Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund
Wills Cigarette Cards collected from WWI Soldiers
Gardens and War 24/09/14 - 19/12/14
In an encounter with Siegfried Sassoon in parliament in 1918, Winston Churchill claimed ‘War is the normal occupation of man’. When challenged, he added: ‘War – and gardening.’
The relationship between these two seemingly incompatible occupations is explored in our next exhibition ‘Gardens and War’. We also look at how planting and garden-making introduced beauty and normality in the most extreme places - at the Front and in the trenches of both armies, and in internment and Prisoner of War camps. The exhibition will also look at the importance of flowers as symbols of home and remembrance.
It is no surprise that the army organised the growing of vegetables at the Front – the exhibition features a medal awarded for the best grown on the Western Front. What is less well known is that soldiers also grew flowers, and the exhibition features rare photographs of flower gardens established at the Front. Wild flowers were also collected and treasured – on display will be an extraordinary collection of pressed flowers collected by ‘an incurable romantic soldier’ and sent home from the Balkans.
A collaboration with the RHS will tell the story of the British interned at Ruhleben in Germany, where three quarters of the interned soldiers joined the horticultural society. One of the most unusual items on display is a set of intricately carved gnomes, carved by an Austrian prisoner interned on the Isle of Man in 1917.
Flowers were as important as a symbol of remembrance at home as they were on the Front. Floral shrines were created in thousands of households in the absence of the bodies of their loved ones. In 1918, 100,000 people laid flowers at the memorial shrine in Hyde Park. Intended as a temporary structure, the memorial was kept in place for well over a year and led to the establishment of the Cenotaph.
The exhibition will open on 24th September 2014 and run until 5th January 2015.
Research for the exhibition has been undertaken as part of a collaborative project with Parks & Gardens UK. Submit your own research, learn about a new memorial landscape each week, or download a teacher's pack from the Parks & Gardens UK website.
Leave your feedback of the exhibitions here.
Above: a short video about George Marr's pressed flowers featured in our Gardens and War exhibition.
Talks, study days and family events
To coincide with the exhibition, we will be hosting a range of talks, workshops and family events.
The centrepiece of the programme will be a study day in association with the Garden History Society on 8th November. 'Memorial Landscapes' will explore the War's effect on urban parks and gardens, and the destruction and resurrection of the Ypres Salient and more.
In October, Curator Russell Clark will give two exclusive tours of the exhibition. Find out more about the fascinating stories that he has uncovered while researching the exhibition.
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Throughout the autumn, we will be offering informal workshops on a range of topics related to wartime experiences, for adults and for families. Find out more about medicinal herbs, make your own hand cream, or participate in Thrift Day.