New 'Quiet Garden' at St Philip's Church, Tonbridge

A new ‘Quiet Garden’ at St Philip’s Church in Tonbridge was officially opened to the public on Saturday 19 September.  

Leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, Nicolas Heslop, and Kent County Councillor, Chris Smith, cut the ribbon to declare the garden open amid enthusiastic cheers from Parish Vicar, Mark Brown, Associate Vicar Anthony Hammill, local MP Tom Tugendhat, officers from Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, church members and local residents.

The garden and the adjacent play area (which opened last year) were developed in partnership by St Philip’s Church, Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council and the Medway Valley Countryside Partnership with additional funding from Kent County Council and Russet Homes.

In 2011, St Philip’s Church discussed its plans to transform a nearby unused grassed area into a garden for the local community with Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council.  At the same time, the Borough Council was considering creating a play area for young children nearby and so it was decided to develop the area as one big project with Medway Valley Countryside Partnership acting as project manager for the scheme. The Diocese of Rochester gave permission to transform the church land into a garden and the Borough Council agreed to fund the play area as well as the paths and steps within the garden through a local developer contribution.  Grants from Russet Homes and Kent County Council meant that the garden benches, fence posts and topsoil could also be purchased.  

In 2013, residents living near the Church were invited to take part in a consultation process to help finalise the design for both the garden and the play area and many of their suggestions and ideas were incorporated into the final designs.

The play area opened to the public in March 2014 and, as the Quiet Garden also opens to the public, the project is complete.

The ‘Quiet Garden’ is designed to be a peaceful haven of tranquillity with benches for people to sit and chat or think surrounded by colourful flower beds, which were planted by church volunteers. There is also a path leading through the trees from the garden to play area, where there is a selection of low level wooden play equipment for young children and toddlers to enjoy, and there will be a labyrinth path to explore, and a central sculpture.

The Rev Mark Brown, Vicar of the Parish of St Peter & St Paul (of which St Philip’s Church is part), and says: “I am thrilled at the completion of the garden and the work of the partnership with the local agencies. It will benefit many in the local community”.

Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council Leader, Nicolas Heslop, adds: “This really is a magnificent community project and asset for the local area.  I would like to thank both St Philip’s and the Medway Valley Countryside Partnership for working with the Council to achieve it.  The ‘Quiet Garden’ complements the play area perfectly and I’m pleased we have been able to help provide this oasis of calm for local residents.”

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