It is always a joy to be at the beautiful shrine of St Simon Stock, Aylesford, Kent. The planting is so thoughtfully chosen and each rose is deliciously perfumed. To spend time walking in the gardens, which wrap around each ancient wall of the Friary, brings a calm and peace to the heart. Indeed now there is the Peace Garden itself.
The concept of creating a Peace Garden within the 42 acres that make up the grounds of The Friars was first discussed in 2006 by the Prior , the Estate Manager, and the Project Manager Jayne Hoose. The idea came about because Jayne Hoose had used the site as a place of escape whilst suffering from ME and felt that producing a Peace Garden was a way of giving something back and providing an additional space which would be open to all who sought the sanctuary she had found there.
The fundraising was started with a gift of £1000 from the local Funeral director Paul Rowland. The project has also been support by Gallaghers who undertook the preparation of the site for the garden’s installation. The fundraising and implementation of the project has involved over 150 different individual volunteers including pupils and staff from St Anselm’s school in Canterbury.
A Lottery Grant of £46484.84 was awarded to The Friars in 2010 via Community Spaces and Groundwork UK.
The garden, in the unused main entrance to The Friars Gatehouse, was designed to provide for a quiet space accessible to a wide range of visitors incorporating different seating styles and with flat access for those with mobility problems and families using children’s buggies.Texture and scent have been incorporated to widen the garden’s appeal and provides interest for those with sight impairment.
The Peace Garden is divided by upright sleepers into several small themed gardens allowing the visitor to view the garden as a whole, whilst enjoying the different smaller areas of planting. The first garden entered takes up the busy stressful mood of many visitors and aims to subtly move this energy to a place of warmth and vibrancy. This then enables the visitor to take onboard the energy reduction of the wind and wave garden. Making use of soothing curves and a mauve and pale yellow palette, this is designed to invoke a mood of gentle flowing calm. The central earth and water garden with a blue and white palette encourages tranquillity and stillness. The visitor, supported by the sounds of the water features, is encouraged to rest and ‘to be’
Incorporated throughout the garden are peace tiles in over 200 different languages acting as a symbol of striving for the peaceful integration of all in society – locally, nationally and internationally. Parishioners, visitors and local businesses have sponsored these tiles.