Flanders Fields Memorial Garden Project

The Flanders Fields Memorial Garden is to be created at Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, near Buckingham Palace and is due to open in July 2014 in time for the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. Designed by Belgian landscape architect Piet Blanckaert, it will be located adjacent to the Guards’ Chapel which took a direct hit in 1944 killing 121 people. The words of John McCrae’s famous poem “In Flanders Fields” and regimental badges will be carved into a circular Portland stone wall surrounding a raised bed containing soil from war cemeteries in Flanders, in memory of the fallen. Bronze crosses will be integrated and the names of cemeteries and battlefields in Flanders will be engraved. The website www.memorial2014.com illustrates the project which seemingly retains the bronze statue of Earl Alexander of Tunis of 1985 by James Butler. The Guards Chapel was largely rebuilt 1961-3 in modernist style; it incorporates an apse by G E Street of 1877-9 and a memorial cloister of 1954-5 by Goodhart-Rendel. It is well worth visiting (Monday-Thursday 10-4 pm; until 3 pm on Friday), both for its poignancy in remembrance of the sacrifice of soldiers of the Household Division and for its mosaics, stained and engraved glass and other furnishings, created in their honour.

Michael Barker