Former St Clare Chair opens garden in memory of wife

Published on: Thursday 09 Jun 2016 at 09:53

A whole host of beautiful local gardens will be opening their gates to visitors during St Clare Hospice’s 22nd annual Open Gardens Weekend. The two-day event, which is being held on 25 and 26 June, is an opportunity to explore some of the area’s hidden treasures and best kept green spaces and is a must for all lovers of flora and fauna.

One of the new gardens opening its gates to the public for 2016 belongs to former St Clare Hospice Chairman and Deputy Lieutenant of Essex, Michael Chapman. The garden sits in the grounds of the Grade II listed 17th century Goosebury Hall, and is a real treasure trove as well as including a Labyrinth for visitors to explore.

Michael Chapman, who was Chairman of St Clare Hospice from 2000 to 2009, was moved to open his garden in support of St Clare following the death of his wife Janet at the Hospice in January 2016.

Michael said: “Jan and I first met in Theydon Garnon at a Christmas carols by candlelight service in 1963 – I remember her coming in to the carols by candlelight in her nurse’s uniform and we were together from then on. We both grew up locally, I am from Theydon and Jan was from Loughton, and we lived in various houses in Epping and Theydon Bois over the years. Our gardens were always very important to Jan and she was a keen horticulturist.”

“We moved to Goosebury Hall over 30 years ago and when we first arrived the garden was non-existent – it was just a muddy paddock. It was a blank canvas for Jan to design upon!”

“Over the years Jan and I worked together to create the garden. Jan was very much the designer, and I did the handiwork – together we made the garden into a real haven. The garden is registered with the national Quiet Gardens Movement and is full of secluded nooks and crannies to sit alone, meditate and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.”

“I am still coming to terms with life without Jan. St Clare was there for us in our time of need and Jan had such a peaceful death at St Clare Hospice.”

“During my time as Chairman I was privileged to witness the care St Clare gave to thousands of people. I just never thought I would be on the receiving end of that care. I now know firsthand how the families of St Clare patients feel and will always be grateful for the amazing care that the staff provide. We could not have asked for more at the end of Jan’s life and I will be forever grateful for the support we both received.”

“I am delighted to open the garden for this wonderful St Clare event and look forward to people enjoying the beauty of the garden which Jan helped to create.”

Goosebury Hall

Goosebury Hall is one of 27 gardens in the Harlow, Church Langley and Hastingwood area participating in this year’s Open Gardens Weekend.

Entry to all the participating gardens is by brochure only. They cost £5 each and contain all the details and locations of the gardens that will be open over the weekend. This year’s Open Gardens Weekend is kindly sponsored by Pawley & Malyon Chartered Accountants.

Brochures for the Open Gardens Weekend are available to purchase from all eight of the Hospice’s shops as well as from The Laurels on Hastingwood Road, Hastingwood (corner of Glovers Lane), CM17 9JX.

Refreshments, including homemade cakes and ploughman lunches, will be available at the majority of venues. St Clare will also be hosting a Family Fun Day at The Link in Harlow from 1.00pm-5.00pm on Saturday 25 June – entry is free with the Open Gardens brochure.

For more information about the event contact St Clare Community Fundraiser Dani De’ath on 01279 773738 or

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