Page last updated at 13:52 GMT, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 14:52 UK

Desmond Tutu opens peace garden

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu lived in Lewisham in the early 1970s

Archbishop Desmond Tutu formally opened a garden in south-east London honouring his work in peace and reconciliation.

The Chinbrook Meadow Peace Garden in Grove Park was opened during a 60-minute ceremony which also included a speech from Terry Waite CBE.

Archbishop Tutu lived in Grove Park in the early 1970s and was made a Freeman of the Borough in 1990 to mark his links with Lewisham.

The peace garden is sited just 150 yards from his former home.

The archbishop is a South African activist who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid.

Before the ceremony, the archbishop stopped off for tea and cakes with an opera singer in his former south London home.

'Huge challenge'

Suzannah Clarke, who was the first British performer invited to North Korea, discovered he had lived in her house in the 1970s and decided to invite him back to the house to see how the area had changed.

We aimed to create a model garden that could be developed further over years to come.
Garden designer Chris Beardshaw

After contacting the South African embassy, she was astonished when the archbishop himself phoned her to accept her invitation to tea.

"After he accepted, I then realised that there was nothing to note that he had actually lived here for about 10 years in virtual exile so I thought I would build him a commemorative peace garden.

"To begin with I was going to do it in my back garden but was thrilled that Lewisham Council offered us the park to build it in."

The garden was designed by designer and TV presenter Chris Beardshaw and took him six weeks to complete.

"This was a huge challenge as I wanted to create something which is aesthetically rewarding, of educational value, and will promote social interaction and harmony in the community", he said.

"We aimed to create a model garden that could be developed further over years to come. Peace is the catalyst, not the end result."

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Desmond Tutu honoured with garden



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