Bishop’s Palace, Wells

‘“Travellers, there is no path, paths are made by walking”
Antonio Machado

The sensitive design of The Garden of Reflection at the Bishop’s Palace, Wells is intended as an extension of the current atmosphere found within the estate. The gardens have been carefully designed to augment the sense of peace and tranquility and instil a feeling of calm to those who visit it.

The process


The calm centre of the garden and a place for reflection will be a Poustinia. A Poustinia is a small room where one goes to pray alone in the presence of God.
“To go into the poustinia means to listen to God. It means entering into kenosis – the emptying of oneself.” (C. Doherty, 1975)

The design for the Poustinia, within the Garden of Reflection, has evolved to become a simple and contemporary structure. It will provide the function of a traditional Poustinia but it has been designed to respond to its context to enhance the contemplative experience.

The proposed Poustinia is constructed from white cast stone with a polished finish and an etched curved glass surround, creating an envelope in which to relax and contemplate the surroundings. The glass structure will capture the changing landscape, reflecting the passing clouds and moving foliage, mirroring the light and dark sequences, creating a different experience for the visitor with each visit.

Woodland Underplanting
Native forbs, ferns and grasses. Desire lines created by visitors to Sanctuary space.

Prairie Planting
Lush perennials form blocks of strong colour. The formation of the blocks takes inspiration from the stained glass windows in the Bishop’s Palace.

The arrangement of the planting in bold en masse patterns mimics the colours and shapes of the stained glass window in the Bishop’s Palace, creating a direct relationship between hard and soft and new and old elements within the Palace grounds.

The colourful planting will bring seasonal interest and provide a haven for birds, bees and butterflies.

Elsewhere, Birch trees create a striking setting for the Poustinia. The delicate foliage will cast gentle shadows over the Poustinia to arouse emotions and create a changing experience.

The planting has been developed alongside garden staff and will consist mostly of native trees, Taxus baccata (yew) hedges, native but garden-worthy perennials, and herbaceous perennials and grasses in a prairie mix.


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