History of the Gardens

Stoke Poges Memorial Gardens

The parkland landscape which originally formed part of Stoke Park was originally laid out by Capability Brown and Repton. Much of the area survived until 1909 when, with its opening as a Golf Course, the character changed. In 1911 part of the park and the surrounding land was developed by a private company and sold for housing. In the 1930's land on the south side of the St. Giles Church came under threat from further development. Sir Noel Mobbs, Lord of the Manor of Stoke Poges, acquired the twenty acres of land to the south of the church in order to preserve the tranquil and rural setting of St. Giles church, made famous by Gray's poem 'Elegy in a Country Church' and to have the land as a Memorial Garden, to be a 'living memorial to the dead and of solace to the bereaved'.

On 25th May 1935 the land was dedicated as 'non-denominational grounds' by the Rt. Rev. Lord Bishop of Buckingham, assisted by the provost of Eaton, Mr Noel Mobbs (as he was then) and the Vicar of St. Giles Church, Rev. Mervyn Clare. In 1971 the Memorial Gardens were given to Eton and District Rural Council, which subsequently became part of South Bucks District Council.

They were designed by Edward White, a partner of Milner, White and Son, a leading landscape architect firm of the day. The plan of Stoke Poges Memorial Gardens was completed in 1937. The Gardens were to contain no buildings nor monuments as in a cemetery, but were designed on a generous scale as a complete garden with small gardens and plots available for purchase for the repose of ashes. White felt it imperative that the general appearance of the Gardens should offer satisfactory unity. There were and are in excess of 500 individual family gated gardens, for which there is no existing precedent.

Significant restoration work to the gardens was carried out during 2001-2004, a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, South Bucks District Council and the Mobbs Memorial Trust.