One of the projects undertaken by the Bridport Heritage Forum to commemorate the centenary of the The Great War, was the development of a ‘Wild Flower Meadow’ in Jellyfields Nature Reserve, Walditch. The meadow would be a living, tribute to the men and boys of the town who lost their lives in the conflict and never returned to their home.
Thanks to the support of a range of sponsors, the meadow became a reality when it was planted in 2014 to mark 100 years since the start of the War to End All Wars.
It was a huge project: the space allocated in Jellyfields was enormous and a tractor as well as many, many hands were involved in clearing the topsoil before seeding the area.
The results in the first year were fantastic and quite good the following year, but nettles and dock were encroaching. Despite hours of weeding, chopping down and digging the dock took over and despite seasonal cutting down by ‘mechanical means’, the Bridport Heritage Forum and people who helped plant and maintain the site could sadly only stand back and watch the flowers disappear.
Early in 2020, plans were being made by the Town Council to clear, and re-plant an area of the garden at Mountfield, to create a quiet, restful community space near the Millennium Green. The site overlooks the town and is a fitting tribute to those who would never see it again.
The Forum asked if part of this space could be used to develop a small ‘meadow’ which would contain the original memorial plaque and bench from Jellyfields with planting that would reflect the wild country and meadow flowers which had been part of the original brief. The answer was ‘Yes’.
Words spoken by Bridport Heritage Forum Chair Sheila Meaney, in 2014 about the original Wild Flower Memorial Meadow remain true of the new site:
“We wanted to have a memorial as a tribute to the people of that time, not only those who served overseas but those also at home. As the town already has a war memorial on South Street we thought it would be nice to have a renewable memorial and the nature reserve here was perfect. We want the wildflower meadow to be a place of tranquillity and peacefulness where people can remember the sacrifices of those 100 years ago.”
The hard landscaping was completed by the Town Council outdoor works team led by Daryl Chambers. Once it was completed, the members of the Bridport Heritage Forum started digging again and initial planting has begun – the results of which can be seen in the image on the right.
The plaque from Jellyfields was repositioned on Friday November 6th and cowslips, primroses and native daffodils are already surrounding its base.
When I visited the newly planted Memorial Meadow, I was really impressed by how much work had already gone into making it, and it will only get better as the years go by. The rope topped path edges, a reflection of our town’s heritage, are wide enough for wheelchairs and children’s buggies making it accessible to all. I stood for a few moments in the centre of the garden with a light drizzle descending on me and took in the view over the town and surrounding hills, and thought of those who had endured much much worse, who sadly never saw their home and loved ones again.
On Remembrance Sunday, Poppies and a cross were added. A small but heartfelt tribute to the local men who lost their lives so far from home.