Almost a million Britons died in the First World War, and many times that number suffered injury or bereavement. The over-riding sense at the war’s end was one of loss, and over the following few years most communities across the land erected a memorial of some sort to the fallen. Over the centenary period, the government has pledged itself to ensuring these are respected, and where appropriate repaired and conserved.
Memorials took many forms, but most typically a cross or obelisk carrying the names of those who had been killed. Less well known are the memorials of a socially beneficial character, such as cottage hospitals and village halls. Parks, gardens, playing fields and avenues also fell into the category of living or useful memorials, offering in the words of one dedicatory speech, a place where ‘all people, young and old, could enjoy the beauties of nature in lovely surroundings, near to the centre of the town.’ It is known that many hundred of memorial parks and gardens were created, but until now there has been no national survey of them to encourage their enjoyment, appropriate management and especially an appreciation of their origins.
That is now being addressed via a new, UK-wide, Gazetteer of War Memorial Parks and Gardens hosted by Parks & Gardens UK, the UK’s principal web resource on designed landscapes, working in partnership with the Garden Museum, Association of Gardens Trusts, Garden History Society, English Heritage, Cadw, Historic Scotland, War Memorials Trust and Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales. The Gazetteer is freely available on the Parks & Gardens UK website (https://www.parksandgardens.org/projects/gardening-in-wartime). This Gazetteer currently has over 400 entries, and Parks & Gardens UK is inviting communities and individuals across the UK to add to it either by submitting additional content on those or by nominating new sites.
Submissions and enquiries can be sent directly to Rachael Stamper at firstname.lastname@example.org. For new sites, please include the park or garden’s address; some details of its history and especially how it came about; and a brief description of the key features, especially any dedication stone. We also welcome a few photographs, which can include historic images.
Parks & Gardens UK is a web resource dedicated to historic designed landscapes across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It consists of a secure database linked to a public website, giving online access to more than 7,000 records on historic parks and gardens contributed by England's County Gardens Trusts, the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust and other heritage organisations, such as English Heritage, Cadw, Historic Scotland and the Northern Ireland Heritage Gardens Committee. Digitised maps, plans and images also compliment many of the records. As well as providing access to the database, the web resource features a range of educational resources and articles on aspects of the design, social history, conservation, and people involved with historic designed landscapes.
The project was set up in 2005 as a joint venture between the Association of Gardens Trusts and the University of York, and is now managed by Parks and Gardens Data Services (PGDS), a not-for-profit company and charity. The initial development of this web resource was supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund with contributions in-kind by volunteers.