The Bishop of Southampton visited St James CE Primary School, West End, Southampton for the formal opening of the school’s new spiritual garden.
The spiritual garden is located in an enclosed courtyard in the heart of the school building and will be used for collective worship and outdoor learning, as well as offering pupils a new calm space for quiet reflection and prayer.
The courtyard had previously been unused and overgrown with weeds, but the renovations have turned it into a wonderful natural habitat for pupils and staff to enjoy. Every class came up with ideas for what the design for the new garden should look like, with pupils contributing an array of imaginative suggestions. Ideas proposed by the children for the garden included exotic plants, water features, mirrored surfaces and bird baths, as well as slightly more whacky options such as garden gnomes or even a chocolate fountain!
The different designs were whittled down to three before a final was chosen. This features a variety of plants and trees as well as elements specifically intended to attract birds. There are shady seating areas for quiet reflection, along with a water fountain and a large wooden cross, which give a spiritual atmosphere to the garden. The transformation of the courtyard into a special and sacred garden took just a week and was funded by the trustees of St James’ School Trust Fund.
The Headteacher of St James CE Primary School, Michelle Marsh, said: “It’s been wonderful for the children to be able to see their vision come to life in front of their eyes! We are grateful to St James’ Church for helping to make it a reality and we know everyone will take great enjoyment from this wonderful new space.”
Bishop Jonathan, the Bishop of Southampton, said: “This spiritual garden is a wonderful addition to a fantastic school. The peaceful, relaxed atmosphere of the garden allows children space and room to breathe in a busy life. I am particularly delighted by the way in which the Christian community at St James’ has been involved to make this possible. St James is a marvellous example of the way in which church schools provide for every aspect of a child’s development, including their spiritual growth, with a commitment to values-led education based on a distinctive Christian ethos.”