The Gardens of Easton Lodge will look back on its significant role in both world wars in an open day later this month.

Archivists at the Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust put together an exhibition in June to commemorate D-Day, which will be on display - along with additional material - in an open day on Sunday, July 21.

The Easton Lodge estate was requisitioned during World War II, the hunting forest was razed and the Great Dunmow Airfield was built there.

Wartime displays at the Gardens of Easton LodgeWartime displays at the Gardens of Easton Lodge (Image: The Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust)

The 386th Bomb Group operated from the airfield, and after the USAAF moved into France the RAF used the airfield and base.

On June 6, 1944, the 386th Bomb Group took to the air before dawn and targeted the front line at Utah Beach two minutes ahead of the beach invasion.

They had been chosen by Eisenhower - the future president and then Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force - to undertake the mission because of the excellence of their past record.

After the war the airfield was used by the Royal Engineers as a vehicle maintenance depot.

Visitors on the day will also be able to learn about the roles of other groups within the American Eighth Air Force, military land vehicles and the war efforts at home - thanks to visiting history groups and vehicle owners.

Essex and Suffolk Austin 7 Club will be at the gardens on the day, and there will be 1940s songs performed by Perfect Vintage.

The Gardens of Easton LodgeThe Gardens of Easton Lodge (Image: The Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust)

Other history displays will focus on the role of the gardens as a training ground during World War I, with a memorial area in the glade to reflect on lives lost in war.

Tickets are available from or direct through

The gardens open at 11am, with last entry at 4pm, and the gardens close at 5pm.

After the war the gardens fell into disrepair, and the trust has worked to restore the gardens and the work of landscape architect and garden designer Harold Peto, as well as adding to the wide variety of specimen trees around the gardens.

On the open day, visitors are invited to explore the gardens - which were a place of repose for the airmen and airwomen stationed there in wartime.

The waterlily pond in the Italian garden looks the same as it did then, with the surrounding flowerbeds and borders awash with colour.

The walled kitchen garden is full of vegetables and flowers, and there will be fresh produce on sale.


Visitors can explore the growing Japanese-style garden at the bottom of the glade, which was designed by the trust's volunteers to celebrate Harold Peto's pioneering introduction of Japanese gardening to Britain in 1902.

Children can take part in a trail and craft activities, and visit the gardens' treehouse and elephant statue.

There will also be plant, craft and local information stalls.

The trust's volunteers will provide hot and cold drinks, bacon, cheese or hummus rolls and a selection of homemade cakes.

Dogs on leads are welcome.