Jeeps and roses at wartime-inspired open day at the Gardens of Easton Lodge
- Credit: The Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust
The next open day at the Gardens of Easton Lodge will be an opportunity for visitors to learn about the history of the area during the two World Wars – and to smell the roses!
There will be a fascinating display of the Countess and Earl of Warwick’s involvement in preparations for World War One and of airmen’s stories, maps and photos of the area in World War Two.
Exhibitors on Sunday, July 17 will show visitors jeeps, a cargo truck and other local artefacts and information about the US Army Air Forces, while the Dunkirk museum team will be at the Essex gardens to give a wider perspective.
On a lovely summer’s day, the gardens at Little Easton, near Great Dunmow, are a beautiful spot for a relaxed day out.
The RAF memorial area in the Glade was planted in memory of the efforts made by the Allies during the war.
There's a gum tree planted in memory of the Australians, a spruce grown from a small tree from a site in Norway where a plane supplying the resistance was shot down, an oak from an acorn brought back from Arnhem, and a maple planted in memory of the Canadians.
It is a shady spot and provides memorial benches for peaceful contemplation.
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In the rest of the Glade visitors can experience the majesty of the old specimen trees, see the new trees planted, and then wander down to enjoy the views onto the fishing lake.
Visitors can also enjoy hot and cold refreshments provided by The Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust’s volunteers.
What could be nicer than tea and homemade cake, while singing or dancing along to 1940s songs performed by Perfect Vintage singing duo?
The roses are looking their best around the gardens, the water lilies are host to many dragonflies, while butterflies and bees settle to feed on the lavender and dahlias.
Children – and their parents – love climbing into the treehouse to get a different perspective and there will be a trail for them to complete and craft activity.
The children’s trail will feature aspects of the Easton Lodge estate during wartime.
There will be a numbers of stalls, including Brian’s extensive and good value plant stall, produce from the Gardens, jams and honey and some craft stalls.
The Gardens of Easton Lodge will open at 11am on Sunday, July 17 and close at 5pm, with last entry at 4pm.
Tickets are available in advance online, through the Gardens’ website at www.eastonlodge.co.uk or Facebook page, or direct through Trybooking.com. They can also be purchased on the gate after 12pm.
The entrance fee is £5.50 for adults, and there’s free entry for children under 16. Dogs on leads are welcome.
History of the Gardens of Easton Lodge during wartime
The Gardens of Easton Lodge in Essex are Historic England Grade II registered.
Frances Evelyn Maynard inherited Easton Lodge in 1865 and became the Countess of Warwick when her husband inherited the Warwick title in 1893.
The Earl of Warwick was Honorary Colonel of the Essex Imperial Yeomanry Regiment and hosted training for the Regiment, before it was called up.
By the time of the First World War, the Countess was a Socialist and in many respects opposed the war.
The story of the onset of the war was fictionalised by HG Wells, who lived in Little Easton at the time, in Mr Britling Sees it Through.
The Countess’ son owned Easton Lodge when it was requisitioned for use in the Second World War.
Some 10,000 trees were felled in the park to make way for the Great Dunmow airfield for the US Army Air Force.
General Dwight D Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, made an official visit to the airfield in April 1944.
Three months later, the resident 386th Bomb Group began trials of the new A-26 Invader bomber from Great Dunmow.
When the Americans moved into France later in 1944, the RAF made it a base for Stirling bombers. Throughout the war, airmen and airwomen took rest and recuperation in the Gardens.
The Gardens fell into disrepair after the war but have been brought back to life by the Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust and its volunteers.
They are the most important legacy of Harold Peto’s work in the East of England.
The Countess commissioned Harold Peto to redesign her gardens in 1902.
Peto’s designs include the sunken Italian garden, and its 100 foot long pool with water lilies, which has recently been restored, a treehouse which has been recreated, and a glade with Japanese rill and other features, which leads down to a trout lake.
The gardens of Warwick House, which are also open on public open days due to the kind permission of their owners, are the front garden of what was Easton Lodge.
They include majestic trees and colourful borders, as well as a pavilion in Peto’s style, which was restored in 1995.