A woodland, planted as a symbol of peace in Lichfield’s Beacon Park, was formally opened on Tuesday 4 June 2019.
Representatives from Lichfield District Council and Lichfield Cathedral, along with volunteers, sponsors, guests and well-wishers assembled at Beacon Park on Tuesday evening for the official opening of the only Peace Woodland outside of Jerusalem.
The opening event, which despite the rain was attended by around 300 people, included speeches, the unveiling of the six-foot bronze plaque, and featured music from the cathedral choir, directed by Ben Lamb.
Designed by Lichfield Cathedral’s artist in residence Peter Walker as a permanent living artwork, and planted and cared for by Lichfield District Council’s parks team and many volunteers, the woodland marks 100 years since the end of the First World War.
It has been planted with a mix of trees, including Birch, Cherry, and Oak, with a Cedar of Lebanon, donated by G-Scapes, taking centre place.
The opening was a chance to see the 1,300 names that are engraved on the bronze plaque. These are the chosen names of the people who sponsored the project, many of whom had the names of relatives who lost their lives to war inscribed on it. The plaque plinth was provided by Cameron Homes ltd.
Councillor Iain Eadie, Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member responsible for Tourism at Lichfield District Council, said: “Seeing the Peace Woodland now that it has been completed and the trees have come into leaf shows what a massive undertaking it has been. It’s a beautiful way for the district to mark the centenary of the First World War and gives a space to contemplate the great loss of war and the shared mission for peace.
“On behalf of the council we’d like to thank the whole team at Lichfield Cathedral, especially artist Peter Walker, and all of the hard working volunteers who have helped us to plant the stunning woodland.”
The Dean of Lichfield Cathedral, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, said: “The Peace Woodland was at the heart of our Armistice year here at Lichfield Cathedral.
“We are grateful to everyone who chose to sponsor and dedicate a tree and be part of this peace project during 2018. We also thank Lichfield District Council and all the volunteer tree planters who have brought this vision to reality.
“We hope the Peace Woodland will become a potent symbol: one that reminds us of the sacrifices made in war, and our ambition always to strive for peace, for freedom, and for hope.”
Peter Walker, Lichfield Cathedral’s Artist in Residence, said: “Memorials and monuments are made of metal and stone and wood. The Peace Woodland however is an artwork made of young living trees that will grow and prosper. It is a place to be peaceful and to contemplate and to think about peace and for those who have dedicated names, to think about family and friends. It is a unique and individual place that says so much about how peace is at the centre of how so many of us want to live our lives.”
Beacon Park is open all day every day, and everyone can visit the Peace Woodland, which is beyond the park’s golf course.
Background to the Peace Woodland
The Peace Woodland started life as an art installation at Lichfield Cathedral in August 2018. It was a central part of Imagine Peace, an interactive sound and light installation to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.
Almost 12,000 people visited Lichfield Cathedral to see Imagine Peace, which ran over 11 days.
The Peace Woodland installation was made up of 1,918 young trees from across the district, which Lichfield District Council’s parks team saved from being felled and composted.
Working with the team at the cathedral, the council’s parks team and many volunteers helped to plant the trees in pots, water them and move them over to the cathedral and arrange them on the lawns facing the entrance.
Following the exhibition, the trees were moved back to Beacon Park’s Community Garden, where they were looked after ready to be planted out in the permanent Peace Woodland, next to Beacon Park’s golf course.
The first tree was planted by the dean of Lichfield Cathedral on Remembrance Day. A team of volunteers, including the council’s Countryside & Parks Conservation Group and pupils from Queen’s Croft High School planted the rest of the trees in early 2019.
The Peace Woodland was blessed in a special service held by the Dean of Lichfield Cathedral on Easter Sunday 2019.