The Herb Garden Project
As well as researching the history and heritage of Stoke Lacy village, we also want to create "new heritage" for the next generation. Not only do we want to restore the Church but we want to make it more accessible to everybody in the community and further afield. One of our aims is to create a herb garden within the Churchyard where people might come to sit quietly and reflect or visit with old friends and chat about past times. The view across the Churchyard towards the Malverns is quite beautiful and offers a place of quiet calm and serenity.
The HLF grant awarded now depends in part on our designing and delivering the herb garden in the Churchyard. The first stage in this process, once the initial plans are drawn up, is to seek a Faculty from the church authorities. This is akin to applying for planning permission and the process can take some time. Fortunately our plans were approved in November 2018 so work can start in earnest. Well it can once the scaffolding is taken down and the weather is more appropriate.
The herb garden has been designed for the Churchyard by Adrian Yeeles and Susan McKeeman, members of the Stoke Lacy and District Garden Club. Below is the plan of the proposed garden together with where it will be situated. It has been sensitively designed as a cross and projects the vision of a shadow of the former medieval cross whose listed base is still present (List entry Number: 1234405) and which will be incorporated into the design without disturbance
To minimise its impact on the churchyard panorama and on the disturbance to hallowed ground the herb garden has been designed:
As a rectangle protruding a proportionate width of just 7.7 metres from the church and 13.5 metres west-east along the exterior wall in the south-east corner of the church and adjacent to it. The location against the church wall is important because there is limited open ground in the churchyard for events and a maintenance corridor between the wall and the garden would reduce this further.
To fit neatly into the contours of the church wall and take a very small proportion of the approximate one acre of the churchyard. To be sited further from the church wall will leave the herb garden adrift in an open space. The borders will be constrained through annual maintenance – any creep that might normally take place will immediately look unsightly to the eye because it will run outside the contours of the church and the porch apron.
Without the construction of hard landscaping except for a pathway suitable for wheelchair access. This pathway will be constructed from sandstone flagstones on a standard cement and sand base. The path would continue from the proposed flagstone apron to the church porch for easy access.
Why a herb garden?
Herbs are historically strongly associated with the wider Church and frequent mentions are to be found in the Old and New Testaments. Herb Gardens are to be found today throughout the land in diocesan and parish churches including such examples as Southwark Cathedral, St John the Baptist, Bridgwater, St John the Baptist, Newcastle upon Tyne, Buckfast Abbey, Lewes Priory to the Church of St Mary de Haura, New Shoreham.
A guiding principle within the Stoke Lacy grant application to HLF was the identification of elements to encourage wider involvement of the community in the heritage and use of its parish church and environs. The churchyard is the only “public” space within the village. A herb garden for enjoyment, interest, education and contemplation adds to the welcome that the church offers to its parishioners and visitors. The sensory element of herb growing will be of interest to those with visual impairment. In conjunction with the daily opening of the church during daylight hours and access to coffee there, the herb garden will add to the attraction of the church as a community meeting point. With seating it will offer a pleasant spot for remembrance for the many who regularly tend the graves of loved ones. Indeed, Rosemary is the herb of remembrance.
Stoke Lacy has had an 85-year association with the growing of herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes. In the early 1930s Mrs Madge Hooper moved into the village just 200 yards from the Church and established a herb farm on 6 acres adjoining her house. Her story can be found here.