An innovative labyrinth and peace garden has opened to tackle rural isolation in Northamptonshire

An innovative labyrinth and peace garden has opened in the village of Easton on Hill in Northamptonshire, this unique place of reflection has been supported by a grant from Allchurches Trust.

To mark its launch, the Friends of All Saints Church organised a celebratory service at the site. A time capsule was lowered beneath the central stone of the labyrinth to be discovered by future generations. It contained items such as a knitted poppy - an example of the thousands produced in the village for their WW1 commemorations - and a memory stick containing photographs of the construction of the labyrinth. The formal events were proceeded by a tea party with entertainment from a local jazz band and singers.

The labyrinth and peace garden were completed with help from local students. Fifty people from nearby Stamford College provided construction and design plans for the project and, in return, received tuition from accomplished stonemasons. Local craftsman, Butch Baker, constructed the churchyard wall, and the Labyrinth and Peace Garden was constructed by Messenger BCR Ltd and designed by Ken Rawson - a garden designer who also lives in the village.

The Peace Garden has at its centre a new sculpture by local artist Michael Moralee, kindly sponsored by the family of the late Sandra Watson. This contemporary piece is called “Honouring Life” and provides a focal point for visitors. Thanks to the collaboration of local skilled people, visitors can now enjoy a unique labyrinth experience, quiet reflection garden and walk through the extended churchyard.

Following a churchyard extension in 2015 to increase the church's capacity for burials, the Friends of All Saints Church saw an opportunity to tackle local issues such as loneliness among older people, social division and rural isolation by creating a communal space. Allchurches Trust agreed to give a grant towards the labyrinth and peace garden project.

Robert Woodman, Chairman of Friends of All Saints church said “We know from our village survey that some older villagers, and the bereaved in particular, can feel a sense of isolation and loneliness, and we hope that by providing a peaceful, attractive seating area in the churchyard as well as a labyrinth for contemplation, we will make the churchyard more welcoming, and Easton on the Hill an even better place to live.”

Easton on the Hill is situated on the Jurassic Way, a popular long distance path, as well as being a favourite destination for a local walk, and plans are being made to include the Labyrinth and Peace Garden on walkers’ guides and maps.

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Photograph credit: Michael Moralee