Nailsworth Quaker Meeting create a community peace garden

Rebecca Stapleford, Warden for Nailsworth Quaker Meeting, shares the story behind Nailsworth Quaker Meeting's new Peace Garden.

Nailsworth Peace Garden
The meeting commissioned local craftspeople to make a bench for the Peace Garden. Photo: Marilyn Miles

Several years ago, back in 2013, Friends at Nailsworth Quaker Meeting wondered if the courtyard garden in front of the meeting house could be transformed into a Peace Garden. Peace gardens are places that bring together natural life, spiritual nourishment, and space for the contemplation and promotion of peace. Peace gardens help us ask the question, what does peace mean to each of us?

Quakers at Nailsworth Meeting have been active on peace issues for a very long time, and so the peace garden project quickly took root. Over a period of five years, led by a Working Group, Friends gradually transformed the front courtyard of the meeting house into a place dedicated to reflection and community.

Launched for the community

On United Nations Day of Peace, Friday the 21st of September 2018, the Nailsworth Quaker Meeting Peace Garden was officially launched to the service of the community, Friends and visitors. The Nailsworth Community Choir sang, the Nailsworth Recorder group played, and there were readings of poems written by those affected by war, and the accounts of conscientious objectors from Gloucestershire.

More than 50 people came, and were encouraged to make use of the space and help spread the message of peace. Members of the Town Council, Churches Together, Gloucester Area Meeting, and local community groups all attended.

There were wonderful contributions to the garden from local individuals, businesses, and groups. Jim Pentney carved a stone plaque, Christoph Rubach carved a birdbath and loaned sculptures, the Nailsworth Community Workshop's Men's Shed made a bench. The meeting gives thanks too to Val Kirby for drawing up detailed designs of the planting scheme, and the family of Lionel Ayliff whose bequest was used to fund the project.

The Peace Garden statement of purpose

We have considered the ministry of Nailsworth Quaker Meeting and Meeting House. Nailsworth Meeting offers an atmosphere of peaceful contemplation which attracts and is appreciated by many visitors and is a witness to our Quaker values.

Nailsworth Meeting would like to communicate this more strongly and coherently through outreach and engagement in the local community, to welcome a diverse range of people of all ages and cultures (Minute 13/01).

We dedicate the front garden of our Meeting House to furthering our Quaker Peace Testimony. This dedication adds to the roles that the garden already plays: it is the way to the Meeting House and our cottages; it is a cemetery; weddings and other events spill out from the Meeting House into the garden; Friends of all ages sit there.

We want our Peace Garden to be a place where people from our whole community can sit, in peaceful contemplation, alone or with others. We want it to be a setting for events, ceremonies and exhibitions that promote and celebrate peace. We want our children and young people to feel it is their space. We see the Peace Garden as a living project that will continue to evolve.