The History of the Wildlife Haven & Peace Garden

The Churchyard

Up to the middle of the 1970’s the layout of the churchyard had remained unchanged since its inception, with most later burials taking place in the cemetery in Albert Road, opened in 1931.  However its upkeep was proving more and more problematical.

Spire Article July 1976

The Vicar wrote a letter about the "jungle of a Churchyard".  Open meeting to decide the future of the Churchyard. There was a related article in the Southern Evening Echo of 12th July and the vicar received offers of the services of three goats and one Shetland pony to assist in taming the undergrowth! A little trimming was done prior to a full scale attack on the undergrowth by many Church members during the period July - September!  

March 1977

PCC proposal that "the mounds of the north side of the churchyard be levelled, the kerbstones removed, all safe headstones left in situation and unsafe ones to be put round the perimeter".  A Faculty was granted in December and work started in July 1978 and was completed the following year on a DIY basis with 30 strong parishioners being named and thanked for their strenuous efforts.  In addition a trench was cut from the top of the bank adjacent to the boiler house leading to the bottom corner in Church Lane, to carry a pipe to facilitate the pumped removal of spring water which had become a problem in the underground chamber.

With the establishment of an essentially flat area regular mowing commenced using a rather ancient rotary machine owned by John Christmas and stored in the vicarage garage.  A willow tree was donated by Helen Hall in memory of her husband and was planted in the lower part and this feature has become central to the Wildlife Haven boardwalk. The St John’s Road aspect of the churchyard has retained its original profile.

The flower beds and shrub areas adjacent to the car park and the Underhill Centre are maintained by volunteers who each have their own patch to look after. 

St. John's and the Underhill Centre from the air, June 2006, before work started on the Wildlife Haven and Peace Garden. Courtesy Newsquest Southern

St John's and the Underhill Centre from the air, June 2006,before work started on the Wildlife Haven and Peace Garden. Courtesy Newsquest Southern

The Wildlife Haven and Peace Garden

13th September 2003  

A Vision and Vocation day was held and one of the outcomes was, "To begin planning a Garden of Peace in the churchyard as a haven of peace for parishioners".  Chris White who was already the Parish Pump contact was appointed as Co-ordinator for The Wildlife Haven and Peace Garden Project. A Parish Pump day was held on 7th September 2004, led by the Rt. Revd. Paul Butler, Bishop of Southampton and after this, things moved quickly. Fund raising started and some £4,000 was raised, half of this coming from four donations of £500 each, from, The Conservation Trust, Co-op, B & Q and Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC). There was also an anonymous donation of £500. However there were also two big contributions in kind.  Eastleigh Borough Council "lent" us Nick Webb, their Wildlife Officer, together with equipment and a team of volunteers. Rick Sharp later took over from Nick. Their help and expertise was invaluable and is a wonderful example of how EBC is able to help with community projects.  

B & Q generously donated us a "wish list" of tools and equipment.  Many other donations were made on behalf of loved ones who had died and we have a, "Book of Remembrance" that can be viewed. Garden seats have been donated as well as plants and seeds.

Plans were made and approved by February 2005 and on 9th April 36 volunteers came for the first of many Workdays.  Sitting in the Peace Garden is so restful and the boardwalk through the Wildlife Haven and by the pond is a delight.  

The Official Opening, by the Bishop of Southampton, took place on 20th June 2006 when over 130 people attended, including many of the 70 people who had worked as volunteers. Regular Workdays are held to maintain and improve the Peace Garden and  Wildlife Haven as a resource for present and future members of our community. 

Bishop Paul opens the Peace Garden 2006

 Official Opening of the Wildlife Haven and Peace Garden by Bishop Paul, 20th June 2006. Left to Right: Nick Webb, Rosemary Butler, Chris White, Rick Sharp, Bishop Paul, Yvonne Thornton, Cliff Bannister, Karen Bannister


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