Royal Armouries pledges support for Guards Museum Appeal - Thursday, 13 December 2012

Royal Armouries has pledged its support for a fund-raising appeal to create a Flanders Fields Memorial Garden 1914-2014 at The Guards Museum in Central London.

The unique project will mark the Great War’s centenary anniversary by creating the garden from earth from the battlefields in Flanders – honouring soldiers from the seven regiments of the Household Division who made the ultimate sacrifice on Belgian soil.

The “Flanders Fields Memorial Garden” has been designed by the internationally acclaimed Belgian landscape architect Piet Blanckaert and is supported by the Government of Flanders.

Chairman of Royal Armouries’ Board of Trustees Wes Paul attended the fund-raising launch on December 5, accompanied by Alex Ulster, Chair of the museum’s Arms and Armour Heritage Trust. They joined 80 other guests, including a large contingent from Belgium and the Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Angela Harvey.

Wes said, “As we approach the centenary anniversary of perhaps one of the darkest hours for mankind, it is important that we remember those that have fallen in those tragic years of the First Great War.

“It is also important that we use every opportunity to educate future generations to the tragic costs of conflict. I can think of no more fitting monument to those British Guardsmen that fell on a foreign field to have this simple but elegant garden, filled with the earth from the battlefields of Flanders, where they fell, right here, back home at their Regimental Headquarters. I would like to congratulate all those involved in its development and to help raise its profile, to enlist all the support that we need to bring it to completion.”

The memorial garden is set to open in July 2014, marking the start of the centenary commemorations of the “War to End All Wars”.

Once created, The Guards Museum garden will be a tranquil and poignant place of reflection in the heart of London.

Curator Andrew Wallis said, “We are seeking to create a place to visit for those who are unable to travel to the continent or indeed, those who just want to spend a few minutes of their day to pause for a while and to remember the enormous sacrifice of so many people from so many countries in the Great War.”

The Government of Flanders is providing matched funding to the £600,000 required for this special project which will further strengthen the historic ties between Belgium and Britain.

Geert De Proost, the Government of Flanders’ representative in the UK, said, “This is the opportunity for organisations or individuals to pledge a contribution, however small, to bring this project to fruition. We hope the momentum of the fundraising appeal will also help to raise awareness of the forthcoming centenary. We are proud that the Flanders Fields Memorial Garden will be sited at The Guards Museum which is the ideal location as it is the home of five of the most famous British regiments and attracts many visitors a year.”

The project is supported by The Government of Flanders, The Guards Museum, The House of Lords, the City of Westminster, English Heritage and the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain.

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Notes to editors

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