Terra Firma integrates Islamic and English symbols in contemplative space

Wokings Muslim Peace Garden reopens after decades of neglect

A former Muslim burial ground at Horsell Common, near Woking, has reopened with a new peace garden by landscape architect Terra Firma.

The new garden marries the formal geometries of traditional Islamic gardens with natural elements of Horsell Common and symbols from both cultures. It is laid out around a central pool with concentric rectangles of Indian sandstone paths, small lawns and beds of pink and white heather.

At the head of the garden is a raised memorial stone, sitting in a reflective pool and flanked by two stone 'prayer mats' (oriented towards Mecca) and two Irish yew trees, the latter a nod to traditional English cemeteries. The stone bears the names of the 27 WWI and WWII servicemen originally buried in the garden; their graves were moved in 1968 to nearby Brookwood Military Cemetery following vandalism and the site fell into disrepair in the 1980s. Around the garden stand 27 Himalayan birch trees, one for each of the fallen.

The garden is enclosed by listed brickwork walls topped with Portland stone, and around the edge of the site are low evergreens mixed in with shrub roses.

Funding for the new garden has come from a number of sources, including English Heritage, via the Horsell Common Preservation Society and Woking Borough Council. Work was carried out on site by landscape contractor LDC with water feature specialist Fountains Direct.

The garden is  close to Woking's Shah Jahan Mosque, the first purpose-built mosque in the UK, completed in 1889, and it is hoped the space will be a focus for continued integration with the possibility of use for appropriate community events. 

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