A Peace Garden at Oxstalls

Here’s an article written by Journalism student Alicja Shannon about the wonderful Peace Garden we have recently rediscovered and renamed….

The University of Gloucestershire’s chaplaincy team starts a transformation of an outdoor wellbeing space for students

The University of Gloucestershire begins their transformation of an old memorial garden at Oxstalls campus. The Gloucester campus chaplain Sarah Rogaly heads up the project to turn the overlooked space into a wellbeing spot for students and visitors.

Sarah has a clear idea of how this space can become a welcoming and relaxing place on campus. She says: “I would like students that have left, when you say to them ‘What do you remember about Oxstalls?’ they say, ‘Oh it’s got this really lovely Peace Garden. It’s great. You can go there anytime you want and they used to do really nice stuff there.’” 

The space was originally a memorial garden and pond created in 1940 to celebrate 50 years of the Gloucestershire School of Domestic Science. As of this year the space will be given a new meaning. It will also become a space for students to gather, reflect and get together.

The memorial garden was used for this year’s Remembrance Day message from the university.

Over the summer as the university chaplaincy team prepared for the year ahead they had to take into account a year full of uncertainty and potential lockdowns, making an outdoor space where students can meet in a socially distanced way became more important than ever.

While outlining the plans for the new space Sarah says: “It’s a space that will be used by students and looked after by students.” This unique space uses the ground itself as a part of the wellbeing experience. Gardening and nature are a way many stay grounded and find some peace in times of fear and uncertainty.

The idea behind the restoration is to transform the overgrown memorial into a place where students can get together and form wellbeing groups and even do some gentle recreational gardening.

Sarah adds: “In an ideal world it would be a lovely seating area that can be used for everyone, maintained by something like ‘The Garden Group’. That could become a society in its own right.”

This year, COVID-19 has made timelines a difficult topic. While the memorial hasn’t undergone its full transformation yet, its already being looked after by staff and students. The on-going care of the land will be a part of the experience for those who want to regularly use the garden. Sarah says her plans are: “By the end of this academic year we would have some nice seating and some initial clearing done.”

This includes plans to make it wheelchair accessible.

By the end of February, the chaplaincy has plans to have a big snow drop planting day with students to add some magic to the garden.

Alicja Shannon

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