Friarn Community Garden
The Society listened to the views of residents from Friarn Avenue and collaborated with them and Bridgwater (Cannington) College BSc. Landscape Design Students to create a Community Garden. We have helped local people to preserve this historic green space which is the only area left undeveloped since the site housed Somerset's late medieval Franciscan Friary (1245-1538). To date, the Society assisted with re-fencing the area and installed a commemorative Blue Plaque.
With a beautiful design, created by residents and students, we are very happy to be working on transforming the site into an attractive place for everyone to enjoy. We offer our sincerest thanks to the Somerset Community Foundation and Bridgwater Town Council for recently providing funds to buy materials and undertake the necessary works across 2015-16 and into the future.
During 2014 volunteers worked really hard preparing the site which included removing tonnes of litter, glass and metal to make the area safe and, levelling the soil to make the garden accessible to everyone in the future.
Throughout 2015 volunteers worked on creating the raised beds. For our BLOG and updates go to Projects section (top of page) and click on 'Community Garden' or, like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friarn-Community-Garden-Bridgwater/717161205012144
As this garden is being created solely by volunteers we could always do with a helping hand. Local residents and the Society would be very grateful if you could offer an hour of your time to help with the project so please do get in touch. We are happy to offer character references to participants. Please support us in our aim to show just what can be achieved with a bit of willpower and community spirit!
Friarn Community Garden 2014
On 10 May 2013, residents gathered for the grand unveiling of this beautiful community garden design. The Civic Society praised the students hard work, stating 'these students have chosen to work on a project that will make a real difference to the local community. Yvey, Vikkie and Tony have gone beyond all expectations working extremely hard, within the constraints of a comprehensive specification, to produce a wholly beautiful design - one which residents and their children can really be proud of. Enhancement of the site, once home to Somerset's only Franciscan Friary, also raises awareness of Bridgwater's, and indeed Somerset's, rich late medieval history. It is without doubt this project demonstrates just what can be achieved when local people work together for a brighter Bridgwater.' The Society is grateful to English Heritage, Sedgemoor District Council, Bridgwater Town Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and individuals for their support of this project thus far. We are now seeking funding to proceed with the project.
Stage 2: Design Process
Over the last academic year, BSc. Landscape Design students Yvey Phillips, Vikkie Taylor and Tony Carter of Bridgwater College have worked extremely hard with residents and the Civic Society to produce a design for this community garden. The specification was comprehensive to say the least; a final concept not only had to meet extensive criteria determined by the site but also transform the plot into one which for the first time will be accessible for all - access for wheelchairs, buggies, safe for children and attractive to wildlife. Most importantly, the students worked with residents to find out what they would like to see on the site. Suggestions included: a wildlife and butterfly station, a place to tell stories and play, space to relax/contemplate and an interpretation board. As you can see from the design notes, resident suggestions have featured centrally in the design of the community garden.
Stage 1: Petition, Land Transfer, New Fencing, Plinth and Plaque
In August 2009, over 40 residents of Friarn Avenue submitted a petition to the Mayor, Bridgwater Town Council and Sedgemoor District Council to preserve and transform this historic plot of land for the community. Sedgemoor District Council then completed the gifting of this land to Bridgwater Town Council and attractive new green fencing was subsequently installed. In May 2012, a plaque to commemorate Bridgwater's late medieval Franciscan Friary (1245-1538) was placed upon a specially-commissioned stone plinth located over the remains of a building known to have formed part of the Friary. The plinth was constructed from hamstone in the shape of a column taken from the site in the 1930s and now preserved in the Blake Museum.
Exhibition: 'Bridgwater History in the Making' 2007
In 2007 the Society ran an exhibition entitled 'Bridgwater History in the Making' at St Mary's Church. From 5-17 March, the public were able to view images of shops in High Street and Fore Street. The event launched 'A Somerset Architects' Practice' by our President Derek Gibson MBE. Mayor Pat Parker opened the exhibition stating 'I hope as many people as possible get to see these wonderful pieces of local history'.
'Building of Bridgwater' 2006
In 2006 the Society was pleased to work in association with Bridgwater Arts Centre for the 'Building of Bridgwater' project to raise the profile of the town's built and historical environment, promoting pride within the community about achievements and engaging all members of society i.e. young people, families, people with a learning disability, older people and volunteers. The Bridgwater Arts Centre, as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, led the partnership of local organizations: Bridgwater Blake Museum, The Somerset Brick & Tile Museum, Bridgwater Library, Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset Film & Video The Engine Room. We worked in collaboration to highlight the built environment with aid of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £49, 200. Our contribution was the affixing of Blue Plaques (see our Blue Plaque Page). For press coverage follow the link below.