Garden of reflection

NAME : Garden of Reflection DATE : 2013  CLIENT : Wells Cathedral  LOCATION : Wells Palace Garden PARTNERS : BCA Landscape

It has been a great privilege to help Bishop Peter Price and his wife Dee realise their vision for a contemporary garden in the palace gardens at Wells. It was a project that began in 2002 with the first phase completed in 2013.

The Garden of Reflection is a piece of stunning landscape artwork in the form of a contemporary garden, located in the former kitchen garden, which was once a derelict space, behind the famous Wells pools and under the gaze of Wells Cathedral. 

Bringing designers BCA Landscape into the project team assured it’s transformation into a unique garden space of outstanding modern design and for the first time in many decades this area is now open to the public.


The garden reflects the medieval buildings, landscape and heritage around it, and also reaches into the experience of Christian history for its inspiration.

Elements include a Poustinia - an enclosed 9ft high seating structure manufactured from Ductal and made in Northern Italy by Il Cantiere.

A sweeping sculptural seat rises from the ground, looking towards the Poustinia. It is formed from 12 large blocks of a very hard, fine-grained limestone from a quarry that has been used since Roman times at Massangis in Burgundy, France. The stone was supplied by the Doulting Stone Quarry in Shepton Mallet, and carved by Somerset masons at Wolff Stone Ltd.

The carved and part revealed text along the seat, is an extract from a poem by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado - “Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking”

Poustinia - 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.