Well-known TV historian Bryan McNerney,
and his nurse wife Cate
, bought the four-acre Garden of Eden
in 2007 with a vision to provide a spiritual haven and a place of refuge for people who suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves facing homelessness and other in-need people.
But now, following a number of financial misfortunes, they have run out of money and are facing repossession by the end of March unless quick support can be found.
Bryan said: “We believe God gave us a clear directive to reclaim The Garden of Eden for the Kingdom. We have been told to bring it back to life by sharing our home with other people and encouraging and enabling them to find a safe haven here where they can rediscover the spiritually profound pleasures of acceptance, hospitality and peacefulness.
“With the generous help of friends who share our vision, we have begun to make that vision a reality. Throughout the last five years we’ve struggled to make mortgage payments, pay bills and yet still continue to offer some degree of care and support for those who have been sent to us.
“Our personal finances are such that we cannot continue this work from our own strength and resources. We now have a pressing legal deadline for the sale of the property so we are proposing that The Garden of Eden be purchased at its current market value and placed in trust until it can be gifted to a charity which is being set up to formalise and support the continuation of the work we have begun.”
The McNerneys are now appealing for money, skills, wisdom and prayer from as many people as possible so that a support group and charity can be established.
“We would like to be able to complete the refurbishment of the property to be able to offer respite holiday accommodation to people of limited means and provide a temporary home to those who find themselves suddenly homeless,” said Bryan. “Also to continue to revive the garden to allow groups continued access for events such as weddings, prayer meetings and youth camps.
“We’re not asking for help to pay off our mortgage. Once it’s sold we would have no further financial interest in the property. We are, however, prepared to continue our financial, emotional and physical commitment to working here with the charity for the rest of our working lives. At that point we envisage other people being prepared to take over from us to ensure Eden continues to offer a safe home and holiday space for those who need it.
“By March 27 we need to organise sufficient monthly donations to meet the mortgage repayments and the running costs of the house. This would prevent The Garden of Eden being repossessed and would create sufficient breathing space for the charity to be properly constituted and a mortgage acquired to enable it to purchase the property.”
The Garden of Eden was created from former commercial clay-pits which, in the 1920s, were turned into formal gardens and orchards for a cider-making business.
Throughout the 20s and 30s the garden was regularly opened to the public to raise funds for the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital; it became so popular that in 1930 the owner, Fred Rout, built a large tea room, which later became the house. The once formal gardens are now informal, mature woodland and grass - a haven for wildlife and home to several rare species.
If you want to support the project or would like further information you can contact Bryan and Cate at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.gardenofedennorfolk.org.uk
Pictured top are Bryan and Cate McNerney outside the Garden of Eden in South Norfolk.