The Duke of Marlborough officially opened a new Thanksgiving Garden at the St Hugh of Lincoln Church in Woodstock on Sunday, January 28th.
The garden is part of a larger project which included the construction of a new church hall – the St Hugh’s Centre – which will also be officially opened and blessed on the same day by the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley.
The new community garden was designed by Blenheim Palace’s Head of Gardens Hilary Wood, who also attended the opening.
“I was honoured and delighted to be asked to create this wonderful contemplative space in the gardens of the Church of St Hugh of Lincoln,” said Hilary.
“The garden has been designed to provide colour and interest all year round and includes many fine trees and shrubs which will mature and develop over the years.
“It has been a fantastic opportunity to establish links with St Hugh’s and the beautiful oak plinth upon which the commemorative plaque is mounted comes from Blenheim’s ancient woodlands.
“On a personal note, I would like to express my gratitude to Lady Marie Stubbs who has been a leading force behind this project – her enthusiasm, kindness and drive are second to none and very much appreciated,” she added.
The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley said: “Our gathering was a wonderful opportunity to give thanks for the completion of this innovative project that I know will benefit the parish and wider community.”
St Hugh of Lincoln was the church used by the ninth Duke of Marlborough, the cousin and lifelong friend of Sir Winston Churchill, following his conversion to Catholicism in 1927. He also provided the church with a large crucifix which is still there today.
“The Parish of St Hugh of Lincoln is delighted with this generous and thoughtful gift from Blenheim Palace and parishioners and visitors will find the Garden of Thanksgiving a peaceful place in which to reflect,” said Fr Prem, Parish Priest, St Hugh of Lincoln.
“The centre will be a focal point for the parish’s mission and a wonderful resource for the community of Woodstock,” he added.