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. To find out more about visiting, go to www.lichfieldhistoricparks.co.uk.

Photo: The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber – © Hannah Golding