The Pilgrims Hospices Therapeutic Labyrinth Garden
Set in the grounds of The Pilgrims Hospice at Canterbury, this labyrinth garden was designed by Andrew Wiggins, our senior designer, with input from Jeff Saward on labyrinth design. It is one of a very small number and the first permanent labyrinth to be built in an English hospice.
The Pilgrims Hospices are a registered charity offering physical, social, psychological and spiritual support to those facing life-threatening illness. These services are extended to the families and carers of the patients in the Hospices’ care. Click here for the Pilgrims Hospices web site.
The labyrinth adds a unique and special element to the palliative care services offered. It is set in a newly landscaped garden and accessed by a new reinforced grass car park also constructed by The Labyrinth Builders. The garden is currently newly planted but will create an increasingly private and beautiful labyrinth setting. According to The Rev'd Lizzie Hopthrow, hospice chaplain (until spring 2011), "people gravitate to the garden simply to 'sit and to be' and the labyrinth itself brings spiritual comfort and moments of calm to many".
Natural sandstone paviors cut specially for this labyrinth pattern form a smooth surface, the paths and walls delineated by sandstone of contrasting colours. The labyrinth is derived from a classical seven circuit design but with five circuits and wide paths to create a shorter walk for the less able and those using wheelchairs.
We are grateful to the following contributors who have kindly agreed to share their experiences of walking The Therapeutic Labyrinth.
Walking the Labyrinth
Being pushed in my wheelchair round the labyrinth by my husband, together we found that it was the most spiritual and magical thing we have ever experienced. I have Motor Neurone Disease, and whether or not our emotions were high the feeling of inner calm and love made us both feel complete. It was thought provoking and awe-inspiring, also something together we could both share. Diane – patient
I had time to reflect and to think that the labyrinth would always be there for you if you had need of it. William – patient
Since walking the labyrinth over a period of time the depression that had settled over me when my husband died has lifted – Angela - volunteer
I was very moved by the experience and found a sense of peace, especially as my daughter was able to walk with me. Joyce – patient
Certain geometric forms and proportions are known to govern patterns of organic growth and mineral structure in our physical world. When walking the labyrinth we are seeking unity with nature, our inner selves, spirit or god. This ‘sacred geometry’ is incorporated into the labyrinth garden design to strengthen these connections. Centered on the labyrinth and aligning with the garden paths and features is the form of a pentagram set within a pentagon. These incorporate the ‘golden section ratio’ in their geometry. Marker stones are set into the circumference of the labyrinth to indicate the points and sides of the geometric shapes.