Suffrage Sensory Garden in Rochester

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Suffrage Sensory Garden in Rochester

Suffrage Sensory Garden in Rochester

Natalie Poulton By Natalie Poulton

Utilising an existing raised garden space on Rochester Esplanade, we will create an accessible sensory area for visitors of all ages and abilities as a tribute to local suffragist Vera Conway Gordon.

Rochester Idea stage

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This project will commemorate the Centenary of the Representation of the People Act and the life and work of a local non-militant suffragist. We will enrich the overall landscape of the area and create a sensory garden where disabled and non-disabled visitors can enjoy a range of educational and recreational sensory experiences. This will be achieved using a combination of the existing landscape, together with bee and butterfly friendly plants, herbs and other materials which will generate a range of aromas, colours, textures and sounds to encourage and stimulate the senses. This existing raised garden is centrally placed, easily accessible and directly opposite the family home of Vera Conway Gordon, President and Hon. Secretary of the Rochester branch of the non-militant National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) from 1912 to 1928. This revitalised and enhanced sensory garden will be dedicated as a permanent tribute to her work in the local community and beyond.

What we'll deliver:

  • Remove existing aged shrubs, plants, weeds, topsoil and all grass roots
  • Repair existing brickwork and pointing as necessary
  • Re-plant with a range of hardy low-maintenance sensory plants, bulbs and herbs
  • Create the first dementia and autism friendly greensplace in the local area
  • Include multi-sensory signage with links to an online planting plan, key species information and list of sponsors
  • Dedicate the garden as a permanent memorial to Vera Conway Gordon

Why it's a great idea:

Rochester has a rich history dating back to Roman times when it became an area of great importance due to its location on the main Dover to London road which crosses the Medway river at its lowest point. Situated just 50km from London, and benefiting nearby from a new railway station, a picturesque High Street with a great selection of shops and restaurants, together with the world-famous Castle and Cathedral, Rochester Esplanade is an area already popular with tourists together with a growing and diverse local community. Dedicated as a celebration of the lifetime achievements of a significant local campaigner for women's rights, this colourful and scented sensory garden will enrich the overall landscape and add to the cultural value of the neighbourhood. The project will enhance an existing green space whilst offering an attractive, affordable and accessible outdoor recreational resource suitable for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

Steps to get it done:

  • Work with local experts and Local Authority on final details - Dec 2018
  • Run Campaign - Winter 2018
  • Prepare site and deliver project - Spring/Summer 2019

Background information: The Suffrage movement campaigning for women's right to vote began in Medway around 1870, but did not become a large scale movement until after 1910. As a result of determined campaigning by men and women across the UK, in 1918 women over the age of 30, who met minimum property qualifications, and all men over the age of 21 were first granted the vote, but it was not until 1928 that the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act was passed giving the vote to all women over the age of 21 on equal terms with men. Vera Conway Gordon's family had strong links with area: her maternal great-grandfather was Sir William Cubitt, civil engineer, who was responsible for the cast-iron replacement to the medieval bridge over the Medway at Rochester which opened in 1856; the piers of that bridge still carry Rochester's Old Bridge to this day. Her grandfather was Joseph Cubitt, also a civil engineer, whose projects included the London, Chatham & Dover Railway.

Location Rochester

About the space

Suffragist Sensory Garden


Medway Council

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How will the money be spent?Total £13,280

Rough estimate - to be confirmed - £12,000 (90%)
Other - £1,280 (10%)

Costs Breakdown

This shows how money raised for the project will be spent. Before entering fundraising these costs will be confirmed by the project's Delivery Manager and verified by the verifier.

Rough estimate - to be confirmed
  • Spacehive fees
  • Transaction Fees
  • VAT


This project is enabled for overfunding. If the project hits its funding goal before the end of the campaign period, any extra funds raised will be spent (in order of priority) on:

  • We'll use any additional funds raised to include additional, higher value plants in the garden.

Total £13,280

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