The ‘Evaders Garden’ shows an airman who has just parachuted from his aircraft, his ghostly image shelters briefly in an old abandoned church with his parachute trailed out before him. His eyes look up to a stained-glass window where two young French people are reaching out to help him; people who could help him but would later pay with their lives. The wall also has a code poem engraved into a tablet. Mass planting surrounds the sculpture as nature reclaims the abandoned church.
The Evaders Garden was permanently installed in Astley Park in 2015 for the Chorley Flower Show.
Created by Chorley resident and award-winning designer John Everiss and funded by the Armed Forces Covenant, The Garden of Reflection centres around a performance stage and is a place for people to sit and contemplate, reflect, learn or be entertained.
The flooring is constructed from millboard similar to the duck boards found in the trenches. The dry stone walls are constructed from local sandstone, to replicate many of the local mills where the men and women who joined up would have made a living. The performance building with its giant timbers and steel roof covered by grasses evoke life in the trenches and dugouts. Look closely and you will find small pieces of flint and brick, sourced from the Somme where our local soldiers fought and died. In addition, as a tangible, touchable link to the conflict actual battlefield relics from the Somme and Festubert are embedded into the wall.
Take the opportunity to sit next to the Messenger, created in stone by acclaimed sculptor Thompson Dagnall, hand carved from a large single piece of sandstone, his presence within the garden is to generate thought and contemplation. Is he enjoying a performance in the garden, dwelling on the thought of sounding the bugle to signal a charge from the trenches, or has he just finished playing The Post in honour of fallen comrades?
Carved in the large quarried blocks of stone Last, is the words of a little known poem written during the war. The poem “A Letter to Daddy” was written by a child mill worker from Chorley. Although the poem is not famous by the standards of the time, all we know is that it was written by a little girl with the initials M.L. to her Father serving in action. The inclusion of the poem provides a local link to the past. It allows us to reflect upon the feelings of those whose loved ones served in the war and in the setting of the garden, we can explore the thought whether or not the Father in the poem is “The Messenger” or became one of those our messenger was mourning.