04 Apr Church unveils bronze bust of poet to mark garden restoration

A bronze bust of a Southend poet, Robert Buchanan, marked the opening of a recently restored church in England last month.  At Church Road in Southend, St. John’s Church held a ceremony marking its reopening, where it revealed the bust of poet Robert Buchanan. During the renovations to St. John’s Church,  many of the memorials and gravestones were refurbished, railings were replaced and the churchyard wall was restored.
Two additional access points and new paths were created, several trees were planted and plant borders were refreshed.
The project was initiated and designed by Renaissance Southend and funded by the Homes and Communities Agency.
Southend Council’s culture department managed the construction phase of the 18-month project, which was completed on time and within budget.

The opening ceremony on Tuesday (15th March) was conducted by Canon Stephen Burdett and included a reading by Councillor Ian Robertson, Executive Councillor for Entertprise, Tourism and Regeneration.

Mike Lambert, former Chief Executive of Renaissance Southend read extracts from Robert Buchanan’s poem Victory and there was an address by The Venerable David Lowman, Archdeacon of Southend.

At the end of the service invited guests filed outside into the churchyard for a blessing and to witness the unveiling of Lisa Hawker’s bust of Buchanan, which replaces the original bust that had been missing for many years.

A new website has been created that can be accessed and used by local schoolchildren to carry out research into the local history of the site.

The church and churchyard date from the mid 19th Century and are locally important as several notable citizens in the history of Southend are buried or commemorated there.

These include the first mayor of Southend, Thomas Dowsett, and the novelist Warwick Deeping as well as Robert Buchanan.

Following the completion of the project the churchyard is now more attractive and accessible and an ideal spot for quiet relaxation and contemplation away from the busy High Street and sea front.

It is also an oasis for birds, flowers, insects and other wildlife located in the heart of the town.

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