Prayer Labyrinth

The Westminster prayer labyrinth is a Classical (aka Cretan or Seven-path) circuit comprising 161 stones. Unusually this labyrinth is followed by walking on the stones with the grass providing the “walls”.

Prayer Labyrinth

Designed by the current Principal, Neil Thorogood, it was placed in 2014 and is set at the rear of the college in the hub of the emerging Westminster Campus. This intersection between the working life of the Cambridge Theological Federation, The Woolf Institute, the Westminster sabbatical cottages and college domestic area, is surrounded by mature trees and shrubs, offering a space for stillness and “reorientation of the heart” in the busy-ness of life.

Admission to the labyrinth is via the main college entrance. Please go to reception, you will then be directed through the college to the back lawn. A guidance leaflet, Westminster College Prayer Labyrinth, is available for visitors in the college Lodge.

Labyrinth’s: A Brief History
The labyrinth design appears along the Bronze Age shores of the Mediterranean, most famously amongst the Minoans and Mycenaeans on Crete.

Roman mosaics used the imagery. The first evidence of Christian adoption of the labyrinth comes from the basilica at Al-Asnam, Algeria, dated to 324 AD. Perhaps the most famous example was built into the nave in Chartres Cathedral in the 13th century. Labyrinths were walked by Christians to celebrate Easter’s journey from death to resurrection. They could symbolise the pilgrim’s journey and offer a focus for prayerful reflection upon the travelling to and the returning home from a place of pilgrimage. Possibly this heritage mutated into the puzzle maze during the Renaissance. The 1980s saw several modern labyrinths built into churches and cathedrals as the ancient traditions were revived. A huge resurgence in interest was prompted by the creation of a replica of the Chartres labyrinth in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, in 1991. Now they are found, newly created, across the world. They can be on the grandest of scales, both inside and outdoors, or as temporary as paths mowed into a lawn. Many companies now offer portable labyrinths printed on fabric.

There is a portable oak labyrinth permanently available for use in the college chapel.

Westminster’s outdoor labyrinth is registered on The Labyrinth Society website.

Links
www.labyrinthos.net (photos, archived articles, resources)
www.labyrinthsociety.org (international network for enthusiasts with much useful advice and content)
www.gracecathedral.com (see Veriditas which is based at Grace Cathedral and provides a wide range of resources and advice to encourage the development of labyrinths and ministry with them)
www.pilgrimpaths.co.uk (a range of resources including mobile labyrinths as well as retreat days and workshops to encourage their use amongst all ages)