St.Mary the Virgin, Lewisham Lewisham High Street  SE13 6LE

St.Mary the Virgin Lewisham

346 Lewisham High Street

SE13 6LE   020 8690 2682


Therapeutic Garden Project

Lewisham’s Integrated Psychological Therapies Team and St.Mary’s are setting up a new therapeutic gardening project.

Gardening can be an ideal way or reducing isolation associated with mental illness. The aim is to plant a sensory garden in the meadow behind the church,

St Mary’s has for many years had a vision for reaching out and supporting people recovering from poor mental health. Our church is positioned on busy, noisy Lewisham High Street, with its high levels of pollution and the intrusive noise of sirens and traffic, a constant reminder of hectic modern day living. Lewisham has some of the worst health inequality indicators in the country, especially for black and minority ethnic groups, and areas where social deprivation is among the worst in the country.

Next door to the church is the Ladywell Mental Health Unit, part of the South London and Maudsley (SLAM) NHS Foundation Trust. Over the last three years our vision has become a reality through our growing links with the  

Ladywell Unit. The therapeutic value of green spaces and gardens is well established as they are places of calm and beauty. So, a small group from the Ladywell Unit started gardening regularly with parishioners in the churchyard. This has proved to be so successful that we now want to develop part of our churchyard into a Therapeutic Garden, which will be maintained jointly by the Ladywell Unit and St. Mary’s.

Select the images to see how they may change in the future

At the moment the area is rather barren with a few shrubs, a lot of grass and many empty flowerbeds. We would like to fill these beds with beautiful, colourful plants and flowers, provide pergolas and shrubs, sympathetic seating and new paths, with notice boards explaining the purpose of the garden.

The enhancement of our churchyard in this way feeds directly into our vision of supporting those recovering from poor mental health, but also feeds into a broader vision to benefit the whole community by creating a place of natural beauty and peace.

If you would like more information or like to become involved contact the peer support development Coordinator Carmine De Rosa:


There are five Community Build Days when we need lots of volunteers. Lunch, refreshments. Tools and training will be provided. You can come along at any time and help create something beautiful. Saturday 18th March, 1st April, 6th May, 3rd June, and  10th June from 9.30am til around 4.00pm.

BBC’s Gardeners’ World presenter, Flo Headlam and Vicky Foxcroft MP joined volunteers from the Ladywell Unit and St Mary’s Church in Lewisham, on Saturday March 18th, to start creating a beautiful Therapeutic Garden in part of the churchyard. Councillor Stella Jeffrey was there to encourage everyone in a very worthwhile venture – transforming lives, as well as transforming a rather neglected green space. It’s being created to offer mental wellbeing through gardening, as well as being an oasis of peace and beauty, for the whole community to enjoy.

Fr Steve Hall, Vicar of St Mary’s and Carmine De Rosa, representing South London and Maudsley Mental Health Trust, opened the proceedings with Flo Headlam, and all three worked throughout the day with the volunteers.

A local resident summed up the feelings of many in the community, when he said,

‘What a great initiative to use such a calming and tranquil space for spiritual wellbeing, through a transformative community activity such as gardening and caring for nature.’


Saturday April 1st the second community build day when the beds were earthed, planted and seeded

We have a 12 month plan for developing the Therapeutic Garden, which will include the purchase of five benches, two picnic tables and four apple trees. We would also like to have two wonderful pergola arches over the gate entrances, plus more plants. To be able to do this we need to raise about £2,000 over the next year.

Please support our project by making a donation.  Thank you