National Garden of Peace

#PeaceGarden30 – unveiling the new Welcome Mosaics and Entrance Archway for Temple80 in Nov 2018, with children from Roath Park Primary and Peace Garden Founder Robert Davies (see below).



Peace Garden Memorials Trail

Over 50 memorials can be explored in Wales’ National Garden of Peace today. Visitors to Cardiff’s Civic Centre can follow WCIA’s ‘memorials trail’ from the map lectern adjacent to the Temple of Peace (displayed below); or from the ‘Spanish Archway’ welcoming visitors from the corner of College Rd and North Road. View / Print PDF.

Temple Friends and volunteers have been keen to create a ‘Digital Peace Garden Memorials Trail’ that will enable visitors to use their phones to explore the garden and stories behind the memorials. This will require some small scale funding support which WCIA are seeking over 2023-4.

The Story of the Peace Garden

Founded in 1988 by United Nations Association (UNA) Trustee Robert Davies – an International Youth Service (IYS) volunteer since the 1950s – Wales’ National Garden of Peace was created by a series of international exchange youth work camps to celebrate the values of the Temple of Peace & Health, and to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the building.

28 May 1988 media article launching Peace Garden (click for more detail). UNA Officer Sheila Smith has worked with the Temple of Peace since 1988.

The Peace Garden had first been part of Lord David Davies’ original vision for the Temple of Peace, conceptualised within the designs of the Temple’s Architect, Sir Percy Thomas, in 1929. The garden was intended as a place of contemplation within the Civic Centre of Cathays Park, where the public could enjoy a beautiful space dedicated to, and inspired by, Wales’ peace makers.

However, the outbreak of WW2 shortly after construction and opening of the Temple of Peace itself (in 1938) brought a halt to works; and following WW2, energies focused on supporting establishment of the United Nations. The space remained open lawns until the 50th anniversary of the Temple – when founders of UNA Exchange took on the challenge of realising Lord Davies’ founding vision for the Peace Garden.

International volunteers from all over the world (including 1 from Russia, then still in the Cold War) dug out and landscaped the space, planted the first trees, and – around a central flagpole – laid a mosaic designed around the UN blue laurel and dedicated to the ideals of the United Nations.

Three flagpoles fly the flags of the Wales, the United Nations, and alternately the Peace flag (rainbow), European and / or other international institutions or campaigns with which theTemple was founded to promote Welsh engagement.

Irene Chamberlain (93) and Richard Mears (8) open the Peace Garden in 1988.

The Peace Garden was formally opened in November 1988 by 93-year old Irene Chamberlain, who had been one of the women at the opening ceremony of 1938, alongside 8 year old Richard Mears from Cathays Primary School, the youngest member of UNA. Together they buried a Time Capsule of objects to be dug up for the Temple’s 100th anniversary in 2038 (a record of which is in the Temple Archives).

Peace Garden Memorials

The Peace Garden is a space where the contribution of the people of Wales to peace and social justice can be remembered. Many trees and shrubs have been planted in memory of special people, movements or events, identified by commemorative plaques and monuments, as well as memorial stones, commemorative benches and pieces of art. By 2018, nearly 50 memorials remember some of Wales’ most inspiring peacemakers.

Between 2016-18, Wales for Peace volunteers helped WCIA to gather together the ‘hidden histories’ of these peace memorials, with interpretation for visitors. Peacemakers memorials include:

Conscientious Objectors’ Stone, Welsh National Garden of Peace
  • Conscientious Objectors stone , and tree to George M Ll Davies
  • Greenham Common Women, and memorial to Helen Thomas
  • Spanish Civil War ‘International Brigades’ archway (rebuilt in 2018 with support of Rotary International Cardiff)
  • Sri Chemnoy Oneness Peace Run, 1997
  • Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF)
  • With financial support from the Tesco Community Fund ‘Bags of Help’ scheme, and participation from UNA Exchange international volunteers, Wales for Peace renovated the garden as part of WCIA’s #Somme100 events, ahead of its 30th anniversary in 2018. Ideas for new art installations from young people across Wales focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), now defining world development challenges for current and future generations.

    Due to the change in ownership of the Temple over 2016-18 (from Public Health Wales to Cardiff University), the groundworks and relaying of the mosaic were unable to proceed; but WCIA is seeking a funder who will enable us to ‘complete the vision’ for a new Peace Garden SDGs Mosaic and art installations over 2019-24 (the 75th anniversary of the UN).

    International Youth Exchange ‘Peace Camps’

    Between 2015-18, working with UNA Exchange, Wales for Peace supported three ‘Peace Camps’, bringing international volunteers together with youth volunteers from across South Wales to work on the peace garden.

    Peace Garden Clearance

    The Summer 2015 peace camp focused on clearing and renovating the Peace Garden, producing new mini-mosiacs for the entrance portico, and sharing youth views on current peace issues.

    Growing Peace Stories
    Growing Peace Stories -Riverside BME Women and UNA Exchange Volunteers Peace Camp 2016

    The Summer 2016 peace camp worked with BME Women from the Riverside Community to build relationships and gather stories through growing food together, producing a series of digital stories – collected together on the ‘Growing Peace Stories’ blog.

    Youth Responses of Peace & Goodwill

    The Summer 2017-18 Peace Camp in Aberystwyth worked with Urdd Gobaith Cymru and the National Library of Wales to explore and digitise responses to the Welsh Youth Message of Peace and Goodwill that had been sent from youth movements all over the world from the 1920s to 1970s; and to exchange ideas on what peace means to young people today.

    Cardiff Peace Trail

    In August 2018, marking the visit of the National Eisteddfod of Wales to Cardiff and the centenary of the Welsh League of Nations Union, the Peace Garden was improved and bilingual interpretation produced for the launch of Taith Heddwch yn y Ddinas, the City of Cardiff Peace Trail – curated by broadcaster Jon Gower and funded by Cymdeithas y Cymod.

    #PeaceGarden30, 2018

    In November 2018, as part of #Temple80, WCIA organised a family fun day to mark the 30th anniversary of the Garden of Peace – at which founder Robert Davies joined with primary school children from Roath Park Primary to bury a time capsule, led by 8 year old Lexi Tsegay.

    The Time Capsules from both the 50th and 80th anniversaries are intended to be dug up for the 100th anniversary of the Temple of Peace, in 2038.