The Watford Peace Garden

Opening of the new peace arch

19 June 2022

A replacement peace arch constructed and installed by Sri Mohan and his friend Bob was officially opened on 19 July 2022. The original arch, donated by Francoise Murphy and the Watford Bridge of Peace had been vandalised. The materials for the replacement were paid for with money raised by some young volunteers who worked in the garden in the summer of 2021.

Those gathered to mark the opening of the replacement peace arch.

A film of the event can be seen here


This is the assembly of those who had come to commemorate the Association of Jewish Refugees who had taken in those Jewish refugees who had fled Europe, including the late Harold Meyer who was Chair of Watford Interfaith Association, and Victor Garston (centre) and came across on the Kindertransport just before the second world war. An oak tree was planted in the Peace Garden, one of 80 for 80 years since those times.19

Action Day

22 August 2020

Watford’s Interfaith Association designated Saturday 22nd August as an Action Day in the Peace Garden in Cassiobury Park.

The Peace Garden is a small haven of calm on the edge of the park near to the bowls club, which is available for anyone and everyone to enjoy peace and quiet in natural surroundings.

Thanks to those who came and helped.


Tree planting for Peace and Reconciliation
In co-operation with the local Jain community two amanogawa cherry trees were planted in the peace garden on 4 December 2019
Planting for Week of Prayer for World Peace
Planting for the Week of Prayer for World Peace went ahead despite the very wet weather and included this fig tree, a eucalyptus and a Japanese maple. More will be planted on Wednesday 17 October, weather permitting.
Latest work in the Peace Garden
You can help in the peace garden any Wednesday morning or Sunday afternoon.
Contact Jeff on 07973 316689 if a group want to come at another time.
The ever present needs of the Peace Garden.
Every Wednesday morning and most Sunday afternoons we are there to create and maintain the garden, which a lot of people seem to be enjoying.
All are welcome, just ring Jeff to check on 07973 316689.
And do  go and enjoy the peace in the garden any time you want, it is for everyone!

Watford Interfaith Association Peace Garden
Watford Interfaith Association’s Peace Garden was opened to the public by the then Elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill, who is a patron, at a multi faith ceremony.
It contains a labyrinth with grassed seating, flower beds , special trees and a specially donated bench.
It was initiated by the Watford Interfaith Association (WIFA) in 2013 starting from a half acre plot of rough ground in the Orchard. Volunteers from various faith groups and others have worked hard to create the labyrinth from scratch and dug flower beds and mowed the long grass. In Autumn 2017 many members of different faiths came together over two days to plant 2,000 bulbs in the garden.


Cllr Jeffree has kindly given WIFA a donation from his locality budget to the Peace Garden, with which we have purchased blue slates to go round the olive tree and turves to neaten and support the seating area around the labyrinth.

Autumn has come and much work has been done planting bulbs to create a colourful garden next Spring.
In October a morning’s bulb planting was followed by a time of prayer for the
Week of Prayer for World Peace.

Work progressed throughout the Summer.

Some of the beds are created and the garden is taking shape. As you can see above Jeff has installed an archway. Ongoing work includes watering and keeping the grass cut. More beds need planting. Some have been sown with annuals for this summer. Planting perennials would be a good idea for the longer term. Do come forward with your ideas.
The Peace Garden team is offering two sessions a week for the time being, on Wednesdays and Sundays. On Wednesdays it will be from 10am – 12 pm, and on Sundays 3.00pm – 5.00pm, meet at Cafe ChaPlease contact Jeff on 07973 316689 if you wish to come to any session, and please let him know how many you are bringing from your community. For the moment you will need to bring your own tools, soon we can use the council’s supply of tools.
The idea is that the faith communities contribute ideas for the garden based on their faith traditions, and also materials, plants and so on. The Muslim community expressed a wish to have a qibla on site, so hopefully they can contribute one to their liking: the various branches of Islam would need to work together on that. The Hindu community requested an area of marigolds, which are used  to make garlands. So far, there will be beds of blue, red, yellow, green and white flowering plants, which represent the elements, but if any of the communities wishes to contribute ideas, now is the time to do it! If the garden is well planted and flourishing by the end of the summer, there will be a grand opening ceremony and all the faith communities and civic dignitaries will be invited.
The grant from the council has been spent on sand, topsoil and weed suppressant sheets, mostly used to create the labyrinth, and some plants. The bench, stones and scraping of the soil were all gifted to us.
So we look forward to seeing many of you, and your communities in the coming weeks!

The Peace Garden Team.
The labyrinth and the bench round the millenium yew on 25 December 2016
Come to to the Watford Interfaith Association AGM to be held on Tuesday 21st February 2017 7.15 for 7.30pm atWatford Museum
The Business of the meeting – reviews of past year and election of new committee – will be brief to allow time for the talks, which will be about the Interfaith Peace Garden. New members are welcome..
Debbie Brady, Cassiobury Park Ranger will speak about the development of the Orchard and how the Peace Garden came to be a part of it.
Jeff Bateman, Peace Garden Team Leader will speak about the creation of the garden, the input from the faith communities and the need for volunteers to create, plant and maintain the garden.
WIFA has enjoyed much help from Watford Council for this garden, and of course from the faith communities, plus a little serendipity came into play. Now the time has come to start designing the garden in detail and digging and planting flower beds, more help is needed from the communities.
27 October 2016
There has been more progress in the Peace Garden. All the bags of soil are empty now and the level of the soil is rising across the site. Another 10 – 15 tonnes of soil is being delivered on Friday 28 October and we shall need some more help to spread it. Anyone on half term holiday willing to come along??
Meet at Cafe Cha, or ask there for directions, 9am probably going on until 2pm.
It is looking very different now!
Thanks to those who have already helped!


22 October 2016
Today’s progress in the garden, putting the topsoil between the stones. When the topsoil is in place grass seed will be sown.
16 October 2016
The labyrinth is laid out, work has since been done on leveling the stones. The next stage is to fill between the stones with topsoil.
26 April 2016
The digger finally moves in the clear the ground for the labyrinth
digger peace garden 1   digger peace garden 2
1 December 2015
A circular bench has been installed around the Millenium Yew.
The donors of the bench and representatives of WIFA gathered to mark the occasion.Watford M G with Angela and TIM ONE.1.12.15
The first tree has been planted in the Peace Garden this morning, 17 November 2015. It is a Millennium Yew taken from a 2,000 year old root stock. Let us hope its longevity is a symbol for all our communities to continue living well together in peace and harmony.
millenium yew 2
It has been a long time since we last contacted you with regard to the Watford Peace Garden, but quietly in the background things have been happening which are leading to the development of this interfaith garden in Cassiobury Park.
Debbie Brady the Park Ranger looks after the Orchard and is overseeing the development of the area into a new orchard, a wildflower meadow, a gardening area for children, a wild rim to the site for wildlife, and our designated peace garden which is in the centre of this. Several forays have taken place into clearing some of the ground of oak saplings by volunteers from the faith communities.
When funding was not granted as part of the Cassiobury Park scheme, things ground to a halt as there were no specific guidelines for a garden like this. Gradually, things happened. Volunteers such as Green Gym, youth groups, Payback and others came along to work in the garden, and will be available to help with some of the groundwork and maintenance in the Peace Garden. 
The garden was designed by landscape architects, Arabella Stuart-Smith and the faith communities during the bidding process. The gently sloping site includes a figure of eight path that encompasses a seating area to the east of the site and to the west there will be a labyrinth with a raised bank which can be used for seating and overlooking the labyrinth, so an area that looks in on itself and one that looks out over the park, sheltered by two mature oaks in the centre.
A labyrinth designer, Barry Griffin, has worked out a plan for a five ring labyrinth and has offered to come along and set it all out for us, free of charge, when the time comes. The ground needs to be cleared prior to this happening, and Debbie will have this in hand. Currently we are applying for funding from the council for stones to make the labyrinth, a lawnmower to cut the grass between the stones and the rest of the garden, some hand tools and plants.
By the greatest of good fortune, or grace perhaps, a lady speaking to Debbie in the park offered to donate a bench as a memorial to her late father, and with great gratitude we accepted this offer and a circular bench has been purchased which will encompass the Millennium Yew which Jeff Bateman wishes to offer to the garden. It was from David Bellamy at the turn of the century and should last several millennia. From here people will be able to look out over the garden or across the park with its landmark pine.
It has taken a while but at last we have dates for these first events. The tree will be planted at 10.30 am on Tuesday 17th November. The bench will be installed at 8am on Thursday 19th November. This is very short notice and probably very inconvenient times, but all are most welcome to come along and celebrate the material first stage of developing the Peace Garden, either for the tree planting or the bench installation. Perhaps if you have a prayer or a few words to offer this might add to the specialness of the occasion. Fr Geoff, Chair of WIFA will be on hand for the tree planting. Meet near Cafe Cha by the Shepherds Road entrance just before the designated time. Please let Judith know if you are coming so that we can look out for you, the Orchard can be difficult to find.
The Watford Peace Garden
This is a wonderful new opportunity that has arisen for us. Watford Interfaith Association and the Rangers of Cassiobury Park invite members of the faith communities in Watford to join together in the creation of “The Watford Peace Garden”, a shared space for quiet contemplation, meditation or meeting together.
Peace garden sketch 2Click on image to enlarge
We just wanted to extend the warmest of thanks to all those who came to do some digging at the Watford Peace Garden yesterday afternoon. A whole army came and quickly dug up 40 saplings.
There is still much to do in this early preparation stage, so another date will be set soon, perhaps midweek and other weekend dates.
We now have 40 saplings, mostly oak, but some chestnuts too, if anyone wishes to plant them, they can only be stored for a short while.
We should also set aside time for planning more how the garden will look and be used, but until we receive funding (hopefully) in July we can’t be sure of the scope of our plans. Meanwhile, the ground has to be cleared so it will be good to have all the help we can muster from the faith communities so that when work commences in earnest the ground is ready.
The basic design has been created by the faith communities under the guidance of Bella Stuart-Smith, a professional garden designer who has also helped to create many community gardens. The Park Ranger, Debbie Brady and the park landscape designers have also been great advisers in this scheme, and will continue to do so, as will Bella. The layout is very much designed to make use of the contours of the land in the Orchard and details of the evolving design will be in consultation with the faith communities.
But first we must clear some space under the trees, so please let your communities know and encourage them to join in, this is a community garden for all to join in.
If you want to bring children, they are very welcome, but please look after them yourselves as there is no creche facility. Please also ensure safety in the use and care of your tools and belongings.
In the event of inclement weather obviously the digging will not take place and I will send out an email that morning.
We look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!

Watford Peace Garden meeting, Tuesday 28th January 2014, Café Cha Cha Cha

Present: Alex, Andrew, Jeff, Françoise, Malcolm, Owrang, Judith, Bella, Debbie, Harjit

Thanks to Andrew and Alex for getting the plans to us so promptly, and for making A3 coloured versions as well as A4.

Discussion was lively. Jeff pointed out that it was felt an infinity (figure of eight) path might be good for joining the two circles of outward- and inward- looking circles together in a sinuous line. A Muslim lady had queried the figure of eight as being perhaps too involved with religious symbolism, Christian fonts, Jewish circumcision and so on. It was only meant as a wide open expression of infinity though: Bella, Andrew and Alex thought that the path going between the trees on the rough ground might not work anyway, so a slightly different way of joining the circles would be found at a later date. The idea of a yin / yang shape was also discussed, with a view to light and dark and balance, but wasn’t taken any further.

Françoise pointed out that a small yew in the garden area had been left out. (Andrew later added this to the drawing on site).

Andrew suggested getting a craftsman in to create a bespoke circular bench for the west, outward facing circle. Owrang queried the use of wood: metal would be safer from vandalism. Most felt that metal benches weren’t in keeping with the natural forms of the garden. Debbie thought that vandalism wouldn’t be a big problem because the neighbours backing on to the site especially would be keeping a watch, and anyway wooden sculptures around the park had remained unscathed.

Wooden plates would be needed, perhaps with a quote as Ian suggested on Saturday, but definitely to signpost the areas in the orchard. This would be an expense, but the council will be providing signs anyway. The name was discussed: Malcolm thought people might associate the garden with the Peace Hospice. It was finally decided to name it, ’The Watford Peace Garden’.

The top, east end would be left rough as the ground is mainly unworkable and would add ‘texture’ to the orchard as a whole, as well as being a habitat for small wild creatures.

The inward looking circle with the labyrinth might be bounded by bamboos in part with a flat Qibla in the centre giving the direction for Mecca, if this is acceptable. Bella suggested tactile, fragrant herbs such as a bank of chamomile to sit on and others suggested a small recumbent mint nearby as well.

The discussion roved over whether the paths should be gravel, hard material but low maintenance, and more expensive or whether they should just be of mown grass, which is cheaper but higher maintenance. The materials for the labyrinth were also discussed, as it has to look good and also be hard wearing enough for the traffic of feet and wheels over it. After much debate and looking at the site it was decided to go for grass paths, and if they were not successful to go for compacted gravel at a later date. The maintenance of the grass would be an occasional mowing by the parks staff of the main paths in the Orchard, but for the communities to come in with strimmers and keep the inner paths and labyrinth neat. The labyrinth would be grassed with two types of grass held in place with metal strips underground, and cut with strimmers and shears to maintain two heights to make a distinctive path.

The main planting will be drifts of spring and summer bulbs in shades of blue or yellow, representing water and earth, with red-stemmed Cornus Alba as representative of fire, with wood in the seating and newly planted trees. Bella also suggested a tumble of Rosa Rugosa, a wild type of native rose for summer and winter colour (the hips are bright red during winter). The whole effect will be very natural. Bella also suggested paths coming into the garden from two sides, precise details will come later.

Andrew and Alex will make a few amendments to the plan, and any comments must come in during the next few days for any more changes. Then the bid will be sent and Debbie hopes to hear if the bid is successful around July. Meanwhile, after the WIFA AGM in February, working parties can be arranged to start digging the oak saplings, for which we have to supply our own tools.

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