100 years of War…..at The Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Day The World Changed : 100 years after the event, there is no first hand memory of the people who lived through it and yet, memory is persistent. It does its work through faded photographs, family anecdotes passed from one generation to the next, treasured letters, medals, old work ledgers, census and military records; but also the terraces of sorrow, of love cut short, and the joy of lives well lived, if only briefly.
When I heard that the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Wild Works Theatre Group had got together to remember those men from the Parishes of St Ewe, Gorran Haven and Mevagissey. I knew I wanted to be part of the 100 years after and the memories within the garden walls; in which some of the men would have worked.
First let me tell you a little about Wild Works Outdoor Theatre. Founded by Bill Mitchell back in 2005, Wild Works make theatre with landscapes and people, large scale spectacular performances and artworks that grow out of their locations; quarries,cliffs, harbours, derelict industrial sites and castles. From their base in Cornwall they have traveled the world adventuring and bedding down in different locations and teasing out hidden treasures lost in people’s minds and sharing their stories.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan had been in the same family for over 400 years and when war broke out most of the men working the estate left their loved ones to fight for King and country. The thing about gardens is that they die each year and then they come back but the men who had created these magnificent gardens did not. So the gardens laid lost and over grown until in 1990. The rest is history as they say. The Lost Gardens of Heligan are now a thriving international attraction, loved by many including gardeners. Countless back braking days have been spent bringing back the secret atmosphere that the men and woman left behind.
Walking around on Sunday 3rd August 2014 I felt humbled by what Wild Works and The Lost Gardens of Heligan captured. I feel very moved from the stories they told and sorrow of war. “War, what is it good for, absolutely nothing”.