Friday, 7 November 2014

Garden of Remembrance, Westminster Abbey

In the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday the lawns of Westminster Abbey in London turn into the Garden of Remembrance and small crosses and poppies start sprouting in neat patches in the grounds of that venerable old church. The Abbey has been there for, sort of, forever, but I don't know when the Garden first appeared.

I work round the corner from the Abbey so it's easy enough to visit at lunchtime. I never cease to be amazed by how many people seem to have travelled from around the globe to see it. The British Legion always seems to do a roaring trade in selling poppies and little wooden crosses and, more recently, crescent moons, on which people can write the name of the person they're remembering and plant it in the appropriate plot.

The Garden is split into small plots for each regiment and country and there's a map at the entrance gates so you can find the plot you need. Some plots are fuller than others but they're all represented. It's also nice to see the range of generations wandering round the Garden and the range of wars (or 'conflicts') represented. Lots of people were wandering round with cameras and you can get good shots of Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament Square  and the Houses of Parliament in the background. Me? I had my phone.

Some of the names of the plots clearly harked back to when King and Empire called and the Empire sent its sons and some daughters to die in Flanders fields. Others are from more modern wars. The plot for Canada was very full (and some patriotic soul planted a flag) and it was nice to see the plots for Polish and Czechoslovakian servicemen from the Second World War when they joined the Allies. There were lots of African regiments and, of course, the Gurkahs of Nepal who are still part of the British Army.

I look for my Grandfather's regiment to make sure it's there. It always is. He didn't die in the First World War but two of his brothers did. I remember the old photographic portraits of them in uniform hanging in my grandparent's back bedroom when I was young. They died for King and country but was it worth it?

Anyway, here are some photos so you can see what it's like.

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