Centenary Seat at Rufford Park

 Girlguiding Nottinghamshire Centenary Seat at Rufford Park

The Centenary Seat was commissioned by Girlguiding Nottinghamshire to celebrate 100 years of Guiding. The design for the seat is a large trefoil. It was created by sculptor Gwen Heeney, who has created many pieces of work using bricks, or blocks which are about the size of three house bricks. Ibstock Brick Company sponsored the bricks and gave Gwen permission to create the seat at their factory at Aldridge, near Walsall. Initially she had to lay down each layer of bricks in the design, cutting most of them because of all the curved surfaces. She gradually built up the layers of bricks until they were about eight high.

When the Seat was commissioned by Nottinghamshire Girlguiding in March 2008 it was decided that Gwen Heeney should have a free hand in what was included in the final sculpture. In Gwen’s original submission she listed the following

Various event dates carved into Seat such as 1966 L.B.P. visits Sheila Walker, 1977 Jane Allen County Commissioner Nottinghamshire. Making the Seat a meeting point with seating area of 30 approx A space to tell stories about the past to develop ideas for the future

Workshops were attended by Guides, Brownies and Rainbows to generate ideas which Gwen incorporated into the final design. The girls were asked to draw things to do with Guiding which meant something to them. Gwen has carved the designs into the clay on the back and sides, together with some words and dates along the front. Once the carving was complete, the bricks were taken down ready to be fired, with Gwen numbering each one so that the sculpture could be rebuilt on site. Each brick then had to be hollowed out to prevent distortion in the kiln.

Centenary seat

The seat is six metres wide, three metres from front to back and about a metre high. It is rather like a large settee and two chairs, and will seat about 15 people at once.

Centenary Seat Explanation

Left hand side

based on the girls’ drawings


Gwen’s own ideas

Right hand side

 based on girls’ ideas

Pair of wings Magpie pecking a jewel(the Campsite at Elton has a Magpie as its logo) Guitar
Boat with three fancy funnels 3 rings (Could be trefoil or jewels collected) Musical stave
Star Acorn and leaf (Nottinghamshire’s own tree and Sherwood Forest) Three hands
Crown Trefoil like leaf (Our Promise badge) Computer mouse
Hand with bent fingers Owl in the horn (Brownie leaders are Brown Owls, and Nottinghamshire Guide badge is based on a military horn (Light Infantry), but it could be Robin Hood’s) Computer
Pine Cone and needles (Gwen’s choice)

Dates on base from the left            

  • 1910  Girl Guides started led by Agnes Baden-Powell (sister to BP)
  • 1914  Brownies (then Rosebuds) started
  • 1918  Lady Olave-Baden Powell Appointed Chief Guide
  • 1924  Fox Lease   Lovely house in New Forest acquired for Training
  • 1926  World Thinking Day Celebrated World Wide. Birthday of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell on 22 February each year
  • 1928  WAGGGS World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts (actually formed 1926)
  • (1929) Ruddington – Lady Baden-Powell came here. 5000 Guides marched past
  • 1930  World Flag    Adopted
  • 1932 (Our) Chalet  Acquired for International Girl Guiding in Switzerland
  • 1937 Princess Elizabeth Enrolled as a Guide
  • 1947  Queen’s Guide – Top challenge for older girls to earn (actually in 1946)
  • 1962  Roughbreck Camp site in Nottinghamshire on Welbeck Estate acquired to lease
  • 1987 Rainbows Units opened for younger girls aged from five to seven
  • 2010  Centenary 100 years on from starting Guides

On the back are actual carvings made by the Guides at the factory and Gwen enhanced