The idea was first suggested to me by Grace, who is a keen gardener, that the oval area of grass outside the front door of the church, could be developed into a really lovely public garden space. I liked the idea, and thought that it could be styled as a Quiet Garden – a place for spiritual reflection, rest and refreshment.
However, with everything else that happened in the first few months of our arrival in Battersea, the idea got put on the back burner. With half an hour to pass in church recently, I had a closer look at the William Curtis memorial window, and sniffing out a whiff of inspiration, did some research. I discovered that he was an apothecary and botanist, that he worked at the Chelsea Physic Garden, and that St Mary’s churchyard was one of the places he gathered his samples. He is from an old and well-known family, and there is a family museum in Alton, Hampshire, that is open to the public. And, I have been informed, he is also buried in that very same piece of church yard we thought could make a lovely quiet garden.
I began to see the potential for a quiet garden themed on William Curtis, which could be developed and maintained by the community, and would provide a healing (touching on his being an apothecary) and restful (think of the calming scents of lavender, jasmine and rose) space with some seats. The garden would act, as Simon has suggested, as an extension of the worshipping space of the church, and be a welcoming and hospitable way to greet newcomers. My particular interest is in drawing unchurched people into the creation and ongoing maintenance of the garden.
The Quiet Garden movement has been set up to nurture access to outdoor space for prayer and reflection, and withdrawal from the busyness of life. We could consider becoming associate or affiliate members of the movement, or we could simply use it for inspiration and remain independent.
The PCC has received this idea with approval, and asked me to go away and develop a proposal. I am therefore seeking to build a team from a wide range of stakeholders, and interested members of the public; together we would develop a design for a quiet and beautiful reflection garden. I would also like to involve the Chelsea Physic Garden, where Curtis worked, the Curtis Museum and others. We could form a society of Friends of the Curtis Quiet Garden, who would provide ongoing maintenance. There is also potential for quiet day events to be held there for small groups.
If you would like to be involved, send an email to me on [email protected].