Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The 7 Wonders of Milton Keynes: Part 2

Following on from Part 1

2. The Peace Pagoda
Photo by Russell Wilkins

Willen Lake is situated in the north of Milton Keynes and comprises of two lakes. The South Lake is home to water sports, fishing, a miniature railway and adventure golf as well as an hotel, restaurant/pub, gym and café facilities. Whilst the North Lake is a designated nature reserve with a rich and varied bird population – there’s a bird-hide for all your bird watching needs. The lake is home to many different bird species including, but certainly not limited to; heron, mallards, wigeon, common terns, kingfishers and woodpeckers. As well as bird-life, you will find a Native American inspired stone circle – the Medicine Wheel – and a pagan maze, the Labyrinth.

Willen Lake North is also the location of the first Peace Pagoda to be built in the Western world. A Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist monument designed to bring together people of all races, united in their search for world peace. Peace Pagodas were built in Japanese cities including Hiroshima and Nagasaki where atomic bombs took the lives of more than 150,000 people at the end of World War II. There are now more than 80 Peace Pagodas in Europe, Asia and the United States. It is impossible to visit Willen Lake and not stop to admire the Peace Pagoda – unlike anything else in Milton Keynes, and indeed the whole of the UK.

The Peace Pagoda at Willen Lake was completed in September 1980, with an inauguration ceremony that was attended by religious leaders and peace-loving people from all over the world. It was built as a symbol of world brotherhood and the ceremony was lead by Nichidatsu Fujii, founder and teacher of the order of Nipponzan Myohoji. Next to the Peace Pagoda is the Nipponzan Myohoji Monastery. This Buddhist monastery consists of a temple, shrine and a beautiful traditional Japanese garden. Surrounding both the temple and pagoda are one thousand cedar and cherry trees, planted in remembrance of all victims of all wars. At the top of the hill between the pagoda and the temple stands the One World Tree which has prayers, messages of hope and small ornaments attached to it as memorials for loved ones lost.

Photos by myself

3. MK Rose
Photo by Mark Coster

Campbell Park is located in the very centre of Milton Keynes, next to the shopping centre – stretching from the Theatre District end of Central Milton Keynes to the Grand Union Canal. The park is a mixture of gardens, water features and woodland, with views across into Bedfordshire from one of the highest points in Milton Keynes. Campbell Park also contains many sculptures, including a totem pole, light pyramid and the distinctive Chain Reaction. These can be discovered, along with many other artworks, on the Milton Keynes Art walk.

There used to be a fountain at the shopping centre end of the park, as a sort of gateway to the rest of Campbell Park, but it became quite run-down and dated. In November 2013, a new piece of public art, The MK Rose, was officially ‘opened’ where the fountain had been. It was created by internationally renowned installation artist Gordon Young as a place of celebration, commemoration and contemplation.

The MK Rose is a calendar of dates important to the people of Milton Keynes. The calendar is represented by 140 pillars arranged in the geometric design of a rose – hence the name – with some left blank for future dedications. Dates include international events such as Midsummer’s Day and Armistice Day, as well as Milton Keynes specific dates. Some of the Milton Keynes specific dates are: 23rd January (1967) – Formal Designation of Milton Keynes as a New Town, 6th May – Wolverton Railway Day and 21st September (1980) – Inauguration of the first Peace Pagoda in the Western Hemisphere (Willen Lake).

Photo by Mark Coster
Part 34

This project has been a long time in the making – mainly because I don’t actually live in Milton Keynes anymore (to take any more photographs) but also because life is busy. So, I am sorry to the people that I intrigued way back in March (?!) with this idea and then wasn’t too quick about pursuing it.

There is an [e-]booklet version of this, coming soon, with more photographs – plus it actually makes use of my editorial design skills – but first of all I wanted to post my words in a series of blog posts…


  1. I like the Peace Pagoda! More than the cows

    1. Oh I love the peace pagoda the most as well. It's my favourite place in the world, let alone MK I reckon. These weren't in my favourite order necessarily. :)