Garden of Reflection

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Reference WMO/296400


Astley Hall





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Status: On original site
Type: Freestanding
Location: External
Setting: Within a garden/park/churchyard/enclosure/Marketplace
Description: Garden
  • Flora and Fauna Flora and Fauna (any)
  • Flora and Fauna Grass
  • Metal Metal (any)
  • Stone Stone (any)
  • Stone Sandstone
  • Timber Timber (any)
Lettering: Other
  • First World War (1914-1918)
About the memorial: Garden. it is next to the Coach House (where the toilets, cafe and shop are) on the way to the walled garden. There is also a metal interpretation board. WW1 artillery shell cases, recovered from Serre (France) are built into the sandstone walls. This is where the 'Chorley Pals' went over the top at the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916.
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Interpretation Board-Chorley's Garden of Reflection, which has been funded by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme, was commissioned to provide a lasting memorial to the men and women of Chorley Borough who served during World War One. The garden, created by award-winning designer John Everiss, centres around a performance stage and with the beauty of Astley Hall as a backdrop, the scene is set for people to sit and contemplate, reflect, learn or be entertained. Life in the trenches has come to epitomise our perception of World War One and so it has heavily influenced the design of the garden. Far from glorifying or celebrating conflict, the Garden of Reflection commemorates the lives of all those from Chorley Borough who were a part of it. The flooring is constructed from millboard similar to the duck boards found in the trenches. The dry stone walls are constructed from local sandstone, to replicate many of the local mills where the men and women who joined up would have made a living. The performance building with its giant timbers and steel roof covered by grasses evoke life in the trenches and dugouts. In addition, as a tangible, touchable link to the conflict actual battlefield relics from the Somme and Festubert are embedded into the wall. Step forward into the past and along the pathway which wraps around the building, which is constructed from small Belgian pavers. Made in the same way as 100 years ago pathways such as this were familiar to our service personnel from Chorley Borough, as they walked along the streets of places such as Ypres, Messines and Passchendaele. The planting within the garden is common to Britain, but also typical of the Battlefields of Europe providing year round colour, interest and scent. Take the opportunity to sit next to the stone sculpture, "The Messenger", by acclaimed sculptor Thompson Dagnall. Hand carved from a large single piece of sandstone, his presence within the garden is to generate thought and contemplation: is he enjoying a performance in the garden, dwelling on the thought of sounding the bugle to signal a charge from the trenches, or has he just finished playing The Last Post in honour of fallen comrades? Carved in the large quarried blocks of stone, is the words of a little known poem written during the war. Found within the military collection of local Historian Stuart A. Clelow, the poem "A Letter to Daddy" was written by a child mill worker from Chorley. Although the poem is not famous by the standards of the time, all we know is that it was written by a little girl with the initials M.L. to her Father serving in action. The inclusion of the poem provides a local link to the past. It allows us to reflect upon the feelings of those whose loved ones served in the war. Within the setting of the garden, we can explore the thought of whether or not the Father in the poem is "The Messenger" or became one of those our messenger was mourning. The Garden of Reflection is a fitting and poignant addition to Astley Hall & Park; after all, the estate itself was gifted to the people of Chorley and District and unveiled as a War Memorial in 1924. Within the symbolic sandstone backdrop is a panel of flint which replicates the building material used in the design of the French and British Military cemeteries. These beautiful structures were built across France after the war by French and English stonemasons recruited from the army. Look closely and you will find artillery shells and bricks salvaged from the Somme battlefields where so many Chorley soldiers lost their lives; Poetry stone 1- Where he is I do not know; 2- He is fighting for his country; 3-But I hope he'll get this letter; 4-From his little pet at home


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