We restored our beautiful Riverside Garden for the enjoyment of the local community, visitors to Bath and all the natural inhabitants.
Aerial view of St Johns in 1943 – notice the children playing in the playground
The St. John’s Garden had remained neglected and overgrown for many years before the initiative was taken to restore it. We started back in early 2017 and started by raising the funds necessary to pay for materials and 50 volunteers worked in the garden during their free time. The garden was opened in 2019.
If you’re interested in visiting the Statue of Our Lady of Bath – Queen of Peace, the Marian Garden is open daily from 8am to 5pm.
March 2017 – 25 Bags of Rubbish were removed and 10 Tonnes of Soil was re-distributed. We have done our best to re-use all that we find and, through a generous donation of reclaimed stones and acquiring second-hand Railings and Gates, we aspired to beautify what was once a dark and tragic space.
Supported by Canon David Ryan, Parish Priest, a team of volunteers was assembled to help with the heavy clean up required to cleanse the space and allow for safe access.
March – April 2017 – With help from the Young Adult Group and the De Cardenas Family the area at the north side of the Garden began to take shape
August 2017 – Four tonnes of reclaimed bath stone was donated by a generous benefactor and the foundation work for the garden could begin.
September 2017 – Nothing happens without Prayer and our Parish Community and the Bath Deanery rallied around to begin to bless the Garden with hymns and prayers of peace for the world.
January 2018 – An early start with Canon David getting stuck in to keep us on track for completion. Before any more work could be completed however our Yew Trees had to be trimmed to allow for more light and to reduce the burden on the Riverbank Wall.
May 2018 – Flowers arrive for Our Lady and are placed in a new Healing In Bed, with members of the Parish donating Flowers and Shrubs to help bring the Garden to Life. We see the arrival of Bees and Butterflies!
Our dedicated team of volunteers restore our new set of reclaimed railings from Abergavenny
June 2018 – Thanks to support from our neighbour Hein, we are able to collect our new Reclaimed Railings from Wales. Our Railing Team forms to help restore 16 Railings and replace our existing wire fencing. The team spend time sanding down the Railings and then paint them to bring traditional Victorian grace to the Garden. The Youth Group have their first Bonfire & Sing-a-long of the Year.
7th July 2018 – Our Stone arrives and a huge team effort sees it arrive safely with Canon Michael English present to greet the team with prayer and thanksgiving. Ben Dearnley our resident Sculptor begins to form and learn about the stone.
THANK YOU TO THE TRUCK DRIVER (Dave), SPARROW CRANE OPERATOR (Steve), PHELANS SITE MANAGER (Mark), OUR NEIGHBOUR (Hein), PHOTOGRAPHER (Tony), ADORATION TEAM (Marguerite), YOUNG ADULT GROUP (Daniel), CORNERSTONE (Mono), PEREGRINES (John), ARTIST (Ben) and special thanks to Canon Michael.
July 2018 – Ben assesses the monumental task ahead of him as he tackles the biggest project of his career. He begins by shaping the stone and beginning the frame of the statue by removing the excess stone.
July 2018 – Meanwhile, work continues in the garden as we keep cleaning out the space and getting ready for the railings and reclaimed flagstone flooring from St Albans…
August 2018 – The final railings are being cleaned and prepared and we test what the railings will looks like next to the riverbank.
August 2018 – The new riverside wall now takes shape to provide a new boundary to define the space to be accessed by pilgrims.
A reflection of Ben’s work reveals how patiently and ardently he has had to work to reveal the figure within the stone.
August 2018 – The background to Our Lady. Seven rays of light for Our Lady’s Joy and seven for her Sorrows.
September 2018 – The reclaimed railings from Abergavenny, Wales are now situated and ready to be painted. The volunteer work continues with Ben showing the children some carving work.
September 2018 – The reclaimed stone flooring arrives from St. Albans and the team assemble to begin to sort it and arrange it for laying. Much discourse occurs along the riverbank, sharing Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
History was made on Saturday 27th October 2018 as a large crowd gathered in arctic like conditions to celebrate the Blessing of Our Lady of Bath, Queen of Peace Statue. This Project inspired by the Young Adult Group of the Parish and was the culmination of two years work shared by a large team of willing volunteers from the Parish. The inspiration for the Garden was to create a place of light in what was a neglected and dark area of the Church Grounds.
It was a great community effort, showing just how much can be accomplished by willing hands working together. A large and inspiring statue of Mary was unveiled and blessed by Canon David. The statue was created on site by international sculptor Ben Dearnley, who worked tirelessly for thirteen hot weeks during the summer.
Following the recitation of the Rosary a short Liturgy took place including hymns led by our Contemporary Music Group. We were honoured to have the Mayor of Bath attend with his wife as well as a host of visitors with local and retired clergy. All appreciated the reception afterwards provided by the Garden Project Team led by Tom Rynkowski with special thanks to Liz Ganapathy and Zosia Mills for hosting the event.
The Garden has many beautiful features, a variety of flowers in the Marian tradition, stone paving provided by parishioners of the United Reform Church, St Albans, as well as reclaimed traditional fencing, renovated and hand painted by the women of the Parish.
The gate will be open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in the winter with special times for the Spring and summer to be announced. The Garden Project Team are very grateful for the generous donations, large and small that have been given to cover most of the costs to date. If you would like to make a donation use the envelopes at the back of the Church marked ‘Garden Project’.
Congratulations to all who have play a part in this new feature and thank you on behalf of Our Lady, Queen of Peace!
In 1381, England was dedicated to Mary by King Richard II and was ‘set apart for her among the nations. This year, the Christians of England are called to make a personal dedication to Mary, taking up her example as Christ’s first disciple.