The Churchyard is one our major initiatives at 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.
The St. John's churchyard features a walnut tree, two beautiful cork trees grown from seed, blossom trees, three huge planes, a carefully planted Garden of Remembrance, an apiary in a bee-friendly location, a wild garden and a large parterre with box, bulbs, hellebores and many self-seeded echiums.
Our gardening needs weeding, pruning and leaf-clearing on a weekly basis. Mentored by expert horticulturist Jonathan Trustram, the St. John's Garden Volunteers learn new skills as they seek to build a place of calm in the bustle of Waterloo.
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."
Anyone is welcome to join us as a volunteer gardener!
Gardening takes place on Tuesdays, and is welcome to anyone, regardless of skill level. For more information, or to volunteer, please fill out the form below or get in touch with Viv at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sculpture Show_ Churchyard
Digging the Garden
Floristry in the Belfry
The Churchyard's background & history
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.
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.