Last week I was so pleased to have been able to see the most wonderful pink garden, with cherry blossom and magnolia in full bloom. I knew it would not last long with the threat of a cold snap in the weather coming, so I just had to go an see it. And it was a wonderful sight.
This is Stoke Poges Memorial Gardens, and the clue is in its name that this is not an attraction. It’s a quiet, peaceful place for people to remember their loved ones. Ashes are scattered here and it is full of name plaques.
When I walked through here, I actually gasped, it is breathtakingly beautiful. The atmosphere is very peaceful and full of love. And you can see that that it has really been taken care of by the team of gardeners. I thought it would be interesting to learn about the history of the gardens, which are Grade I Listed.
This information is from Historic England:
“In 1928 Sir Noel Mobbs gave a piece of gently sloping open parkland, part of the east side of Stoke Park, for a garden of remembrance. The garden was laid out by landscape architect Edward White during the early 1930s, when it was illustrated as an example of modern design in Landscape and Garden (Summer 1934)… it was described as ‘An idealistic memorial garden to be made on the site of the meadows immortalised by the poet Gray, Stoke Poges Gardens’.
Edward White wrote of his design intention: ‘The gardens are intended for the repose of the ashes of cremated persons and will be designed and maintained in a fashion for which there is no existing precedent. In particular, there will be no buildings, erections or monuments of any kind likely to remind one of a cemetery. A large area has been planned on a generous scale as a complete garden and divided into a series of characteristic features, formal and informal. Inside them there will be designed in detail an indefinite number of small gardens which will become the private property of persons who wish to acquire them. The small gardens will be planned as far as possible to suit individual taste and will be maintained in perpetuity exactly as agreed by the society responsible for the undertaking’.
The gardens were opened on 25th May 1935 and the layout was completed in November 1937. It was an early and pioneering example of a garden of remembrance. It abandoned entirely and deliberately the established Victorian cemetery model in order to provide a new type of funerary landscape to accommodate a rapidly developing type of disposal method, cremation.
The garden has had further memorial features added over the years and remains a garden of remembrance, in which the ashes of Sir Noel and his wife, Helen, were interred. It underwent a major restoration programme, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, in 2002-04.”
So now you know this beautiful memorial gardens is over 80 years old. You are welcome to visit for walks, but remember to keep it quiet and tranquil. Children are also welcome, but do talk to them about the reason for this park so they understand to be not too loud and not to run around. The magnolia and cherry blossom were in full bloom in the last week of March/first week of April this year. Each year the timing will vary, so I would suggest following @memorialgardens on Instagram – this is the Head Gardener’s account and he posts photos of the gardens. Wisteria will be the next flowers in bloom, around May.
Stoke Poges Memorial Gardens
Church Lane, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire SL2 4NZ
Small free car park opposite the gardens, open dawn to dusk