Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

‘Garden of gratitude’: the National Memorial Arboretum and strategic ‘remembering’

Gough, Paul

Authors

Paul Gough



Abstract

The National Memorial Arboretum in central England proposes itself as the conscience of the nation’s history. In this sprawling 250 acre site in Staffordshire, history, culture and nature meet in an ideological domain. The NMA was conceived as an indexical account of factional participation in every aspect of the British experience in the Second World War. Here every voice would be heard, every sentiment allowed to be expressed – from heroism to desertion. As the design of the garden became more elaborated, many further causes and conflicts were annexed until the landscape was brimming with references and inclusive representation. Amongst its many corners, for example, one can find spaces dedicated to groups as diverse as the Royal National Lifeboat Institute and the Road Peace organization. However, as an index to twentieth century British uniformed conflict, the NMA was intended to be an inclusive, non-aligned space that combined an indexical account of a British century of war and peace (‘this happened and is here recorded’) with an iconic marking of the terrain (‘this matters and is here enshrined’). Its inclusivity reflects a wider concern that all voices be heard but also a wider recognition that the NMA represents the ideal motif for a population popularly characterised as a nation of gardeners. As Paul Fussell has so brilliantly observed of the ‘English’ passion for the rural and the bucolic: ‘if the opposite of war is peace, the opposite of experiencing moments of war is proposing moments of pastoral’.

Citation

Gough, P. (2005, September). ‘Garden of gratitude’: the National Memorial Arboretum and strategic ‘remembering’. Paper presented at People & their Pasts. International Public History Conference, Ruskin College, Oxford

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name People & their Pasts. International Public History Conference
Start Date Sep 16, 2005
End Date Sep 17, 2005
Publication Date Sep 16, 2005
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords National Memorial Arboretum, trees, memory, commemoration, remembrance, heritage
Related Public URLs http://www.vortex.uwe.ac.uk/places_of_peace/index.html

Files






Downloadable Citations