The Bridge at Waterloo is pleased to be working with St. John's, Waterloo, and the churchyard garden project. Run by gardener Viv Williamson, St John's Churchyard seeks to produce an oasis in the heart of the city, whilst providing training opportunities to vulnerable people. "It's all about growing people", says Canon Giles Goddard, vicar of St John's Waterloo.
In 2018 Viv planted pollution-busting plants; hedges with variegated aucuba and fatsia. The golden foliage traps pollution and creates colour in shady corners of the churchyard. Working with volunteers from all walks of life, she also dug out and planted a wildlife garden over a part once covered with cement.
Together with landscape features and a network of pathways, the garden is a treasured and welcoming sanctuary.
The words of the Welsh-born Anglican priest and poet George Herbert (1593 – 1633) can be seen both in the mosaic frieze on the side of the church, and on the churchyard bench. The concrete bench, designed by MSMR Architects in 2017, echoes the arches of nearby Waterloo Bridge.
It is positioned in a sunny spot below Herbert’s mosaic verse, so that the poet’s lines can be read and considered together.
St John's Churchyard is the winner of a Green Flag, the national standard for high-quality open spaces, was awarded the Silver Eco-Church Award and in 2017, entering for the first time, won a London in Bloom Silver award. In 2018 the Churchyard won the Silver Gilt award.
In February 2019, Rishi Sunak MP, Minister for Parks & Green Spaces, visited the Churchyard. The visit was broadcast on ES London Live. He told ES London Live "Green spaces like this are so vital in a big urban city like London. These little patches of greenery are vital to the well-being of Londoners." In March the gardens were covered in South London Press.
The Bridge at Waterloo is working with Roots and Shoots to provide education and apprenticeships in horticulture and floristry. Additionally, we work hard to support ex-rough-sleepers through our volunteer gardening programme.
To find out more about the Churchyard, email Viv at:
The Churchyard is the second major initiative of The Bridge at Waterloo, as we seek to meet people where they are, providing them with the skills and experience they need to unlock their potential.
Philippa Owen, one of the volunteers, says: "Our Churchyard offers an ideal environment to build valuable skills in horticulture and floristry. We reach out to people who have difficulties engaging with traditional education, allowing them to create a better future for themselves".
Viv Williamson, Senior Community Gardener at The Churchyard said: "We want to continue making this beautiful garden a welcoming and tranquil place for everyone, with an expanding group of volunteers."
If you are interested in joining the garden's volunteers, email Viv at: