The National Trust Sandham Memorial Chapel

The National Trust’s world-famous Sandham Memorial Chapel contains Stanley Spencer’s iconic paintings inspired by his military experience in WWI. To mark the centenary of the First World War, The National Trust received a grant to create a new garden space behind the Chapel.

Visitors to the red-bricked Chapel and its mural interior traditionally entered and exited the building via its largely meadowed front garden. The rear garden, largely abandoned and formerly used as kitchen gardens by occupants of adjacent alms houses, had never been open to the public. A redesign of this disused space needed to reflect the powerful nature of the chapel, provide a place for visitors to reflect and contemplate on their experiences, and continue to provide a productive garden space.

The final design drew inspiration from the formality of the chapel building, mirroring the back of the building, and the spirit of food production from the old vegetable patches. The garden was divided up into different ‘rooms’ to create different moods from different plantings.

Seating for quiet reflection are situated near flower borders and fruit trees.  Nearby vegetable plots and a poly-tunnel supports the propagation and growing less hardy plants.

The garden is surrounded by native hedging in keeping with that already around the rest of the garden. During the summer months, the garden is a feast of colour: foxgloves, ladies mantle, sweet peas, heucheras and hostas – alliums, scabious and gerberas bring vibrant colour to the raised beds.

“It was really important to me to quietly absorb the special atmosphere of the place and create a design that sits harmoniously next to the historic chapel, existing meadow and orchard.” Dan Lobb – Landscape Designer, Lobb Studio

The project involved extensive consultation and collaboration with multiple stakeholders, including servicemen and women from Tedworth House (run by charity Help for Heroes), horticultural students from Sparsholt College, clients from homeless charity St Mungo’s, and members of horticultural therapy charity Thrive.

I think the garden is fabulous. This is a very special site… People I think need time just to be able to think and reflect and the space will allow them time to do that.

Alison Paton, The National Trust, Sandham Memorial Chapel