Battersea Peace Monk

Peace Pagoda - Lee Campbell

Peace Pagoda – Lee Campbell

Peace Pagoda – Battersea Park

Last weekend we were visited by Reverend Nagase the Buddhist Monk who is the guardian of the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park. I first met him when he visited my shop on Ebury Bridge Road in 1998 and despite not speaking English very well his delight in art was obvious and we have been friends since then. He welcomes visitors and can be contacted on 0207 2289620.

The Rev. Nagase spends his day in Buddhist meditation, ‘other works’ and in maintaining the pagoda, a job not made easy by the fact that people climb up it and make a mess on the second floor, an area forbidden to the public. He relies on donations to live and is grateful to the bread he gets from a local Caribbean bakery and vegetables from a Chinese vegetable shop. Any help is welcome, not least with his heartfelt pleas for assistance in cleaning the pagoda.

The idea of Battersea Park being home to one of Japan’s foremost Buddhist sects may strike the casual visitor as incongruous – to say the least. But to early morning joggers and dog-walkers it will not be a surprise. A saffron-robe clad Buddhist monk, gently beating a drum as he does a daily perambulation at sunrise from his temple to the Peace Pagoda, is a familiar sight.

The Reverend Gyoro Nagase first arrived in England in 1978 from Aichi prefecture, near Nagoya, in Japan, to assist in the construction of the first Peace Pagoda in the UK in Milton Keynes. In 1984 he moved to London, as part of a team of 50 volunteers and Buddhist monks and nuns of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order, to construct the Peace Pagoda in the park, which was completed the following year. They were living in what is now the Children’s Zoo but, as the site was expanded, the Buddhist order was offered a storeroom, in the trees near the Old English Garden, by Wandsworth Council, on the understanding they carried out all renovations and the conversion into a temple. Gratefully the offer was accepted, the work was carried out by volunteers and today, with just one remaining monk, that temple has developed into a successful centre for the sect, attracting Buddhist followers from not just London and Japan, but also people from China, Sri Lanka, India, Burma and Taiwan who are now living in the UK.

The Peace Pagoda stands about 33.5m high, and is made of concrete and wood. It has four large gilded statues of the Buddha, one facing North, one facing South, one facing East and one facing West. A small temple has also been built nearby, with just one monk of the Nipponzan Myohoji order as permanent resident. The monk currently occupying this position is Rev Gyoro Nagase, who came to England in 1978 from Aichi prefecture in Japan. Each morning at sunrise Rev Nagase makes the short journey from the temple to the pagoda, beating his drum and chanting the Daimoku. He spends his day in Buddhist meditation and maintaining the pagoda, among other tasks. Rev Nagase is a regular participant in the annual London Peace Pilgrimage, organised by Westminster Interfaith, under the auspices of the Catholic Church.

Gathering Battersea Park

Each year in June a ceremony for peace is held at the Peace Pagoda. Monks and nuns of the Nipponzan Myohoji sangha are joined by monks and nuns from other Buddhist traditions, in chanting and offering prayers in front of a temporary shrine set up in the environs of the pagoda. Representatives of other faiths and of secular peaceseeking organisations also offer prayers for peace. The ceremony finishes with traditional dances from India and Sri Lanka, and music of various kinds.

Peace Pagoda, Battersea Park

Nasty Scam – Artists Beware

This scam is currently targeting artists and people selling goods on line and from web sites.

It was quite a convoluted scam that took place over 5 weeks from the initial contact from a chap in Denmark asking about the artwork on my web site. This is quite normal  I get a lot of genuine enquiries, and after many e mails he finally selected paintings to the value of £6,000 and said he was also buying some furniture from Manchester and asked if the paintings could be transported there.

He then sent a cheque despite being asked to use Pay Pal or BACs transfer but alarm bells rang when I saw it was a UK company cheque – with someone else’s name.
Then he requested that I send him £2000 to cover transport – by Western Union – and this is where he came unstuck as I’d not agreed to pay for that.
I notified the bank and despite the cheque clearing initially it proved eventually to be stolen.   Easy come  – easy go!   It seems that this scam is being used worldwide and they are particularly targeting artists at the moment.  Such a waste of time but good lesson.

Points to look out for:

The amount offered not same as price of goods

Offer to send cheque only – they are stolen and will bounce

Poor English that becomes increasingly worse

Requests for money

Please pass this on


5 Responses to “Battersea Peace Monk”

  1. January 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Hey Lee,

    Sorry to hear about your scammer, but happy that the story had a reasonably happy ending. The same thing happened to Alick when he advertised our tandem in the mag Loot. He got a call from someone in Africa who had a rather convoluted commercial thing going on whereby someone in Manchester owed him (the scammer) money, and that Alick would receive a cheque from Manchester (comprising of the amount he was asking for the tandem, plus some extra for his time and trouble and a rather large balance that was allegedly still owing to the scammer.) I’ve forgotten the fine detail of the next transaction, but Alick had to send the balance of the money by cash to a Western Union address in Africa.

    The cheque duly arrived, and it was a company cheque from a carpet company in Northern Ireland. I telephoned them, and they told me that the cheque book had been stolen and that I should go to the police, which is what I did.

    In the meantime, Alick was getting almost daily calls from the scammer wanting to know if the cheque had arrived, etc. Alick (the naughty boy) started to play his little game by saying such things as ‘it hasn’t yet cleared through the bank, etc..’

    We had provided the police with all the various envelopes and other footprints, and when Alick mentioned the word ‘police’ in a telephone conversation the scammer hung up. We never did hear what happened next, but it was certainly quite a wake up call, and very sad if any innocent should happen to fall into the trap.

    Hope to see you soon


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