During the expansion plans of the early 1990's, there were some plans made that never quite came to fruition. This was one of them, as described by the University Magazine, October 1993.
The Quiet Place
A `Quiet Place' for provate contemplation is to be established on campus if the required £180,000 to build it can be raised. A site, near Spring Lane bridge, has been donated by the University, but money to build a quiet room for up to five people, set in a circular landscaped area, is to be raised through donations.
``Growth and development, both in numbers and in the range of activities undertaken, enhance the life of the University but, as that life gets busier, so the opportunities for quiet reflection diminish for students and staff,'' says Martin Biggs, convener of the Quiet Place Group. ``The Quiet Place would provide a still space, open to all, of any faith or none.''
A grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has made possible the development of detailed plans for the Quiet Place from architects Anthony Richardson and Partners, and the Quiet Place Group has recieved a pledge of £35,000 from the Castlegate Fund, a fund controlled by York Quakers.
Further information is available from Martin Biggs in the Careers Service (ext 2680) and donations can be sent to him. Please make cheques payable to University of York (Quiet Place Fund).
The plan (possibly to be scanned and put here) shows the Quiet Place to be a circular enclosure, taking up much of the grass between Spring Lane and Langwith, as well as including the lake at this point.
The latest plans (1997) are to convert the gazebo next to the Heslington Hall gardens into a Quiet Place. £25,000 has been pledged by the Society of Friends. This article was donated by Jo Dubé:
The Quiet Place is going to be in the gazebo near the topiary place and it will be a place for students to go to get away from university life. There are two rooms in the gazebo and the Quiet Place itself will consist of the lower room and a small area of land just beside it. This will be landscaped. There will be a "no talking" rule within the Quiet Area - if people wish to talk they can go elsewhere to do it. Entrance will be via a door with security code in the wall just in front of the garden. (The code will be available from Derwent Porters.) Initially there will be daytime access only, for security reasons - access will not be restricted to students and staff. There will be another way out that will be exit only (this is necessary for security reasons). The upper room in the gazebo will be available for small groups of eight or ten people to hold quiet meetings (i.e. you will not be able to meet there if you are going to talk a lot!) Martin Biggs had great difficulty in getting this restriction placed on the upper room - the VC wanted to use it for ordinary, noisy meetings, which would be quite inappropriate.
Janet Baker, the Chancellor, has given this project her "full support". Martin says that she was dismayed to realise that there was no "sacred place" on campus. This statement suggests that she has missed the point somewhat - the Quiet Place will be a place for everyone to go when they need to be quiet, be they of any religion or denomination, or no religion or denomination.
Friargate Preparative Meeting, who are responsible for the Castlegate Fund, initially agreed to give £35,000 towards the cost of building the Quiet Place (when it was going to be between Langwith and Spring Lane Bridge). After much lively discussion at last May's PM it was agreed that, although the gazebo was now going to be used, £35000 was still an acceptable sum to give. However, in October we had an even livlier discussion of the issue and in the end the amount was reduced to £15,000. The project is also underwritten to a further £10,000, making £25,000 in all. Some people were dismayed because the sum was reduced so dramatically. Others thought that £25,000 was too much, since this is not a specifically Quaker project. £25,000 was the sum given to Acomb Preparative Meeting to rebuild their Meeting House. It was argued that it was somewhat unethical to give the same sum to a project that is not specifically Quaker. Some people even said that no money should be given at all, since it is always possible to find somewhere quiet even if it's only a church. At which I leapt up and pointed out that when you are a student, even if you don't live on campus it's not always possible to find somewhere quiet, and when you do live on campus it's practically impossible. Heslington Church, the "official" university church, is nearly always locked and anyway churches are not acceptable to everyone.
Some alterations are going to have to be made to the gazebo itself - it must be wheelchair accessible and there must be adequate security provision. There are a few minor problems with this because it is Grade II listed. Martin has had to struggle to get the project to this stage - the VC keeps on being annoying and for a long time no-one wanted to think about ways of raising money. For several years the project was practically static. This is one reason why the amount of money being given by Friends has dropped - had the building work started before last October the full £35,000 would have been given.
Jo Dubé (Y Gymraes o Sir Gaer) firstname.lastname@example.org
An article about the plans appeared in the Autumn/Winter Grapevine. (The gazebo was used as a logo for Grapevine when it first started!) The building work will be carried out from May to July, and the project will be completed ready for the 1998/9 academic year.