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MEMORIAL GARDENS

While remembrance and memorial services bring some short-term relief and peace, what remains is the feeling of immense loss, sadness and grief. The concept of a memorial garden brings with it a longer-lasting sense of tranquillity, calm, and beauty and an ever-fixed mark of remembrance. Our loved ones are being honoured with two such gardens, in Grosvenor Square, London and Hanover Square, New York. For some families these will serve as a permanent memorial of their individual loss as they continue to await news on any identified remains. In time these gardens will evolve into beautiful landscapes of love, continuing to live, breath and grow as will the memories of all our loved ones.

Hannah Ali

Secretary, September 11th UK Families Support Group

GROSVENOR SQUARE GARDEN

Grosvenor Square, is one of London's finest garden squares, and is home to a number of embassies, including the American Embassy. Placed centrally within Grosvenor Square, and on axis with the American Embassy, the memorial garden will respect the symmetry of the square's historic layout, and will form a new and intimate space for quiet reflection. The design of the garden itself is simple and dignified. Based on the form of an oval, perhaps the most natural of all geometric shapes, the garden will feel calm and tranquil for visitors.

There was a short ceremony for family members and guests on the 11th September 2003 when HRH The Princess Royal officially opened the garden. The garden was opened to the general public on the 13th September 2003.

You can view the programme of the opening of the Grosvenor Square Garden on September 11, 2003.

View images of Grosvenor Square Garden.


A Beautiful Garden, A Sombre Day - by Mary Jolliffe

My initial feelings on seeing our Memorial Garden in Grosvenor Square were that of intense sadness that it was necessary to have such a Memorial, mixed with pride that our loved ones are being honoured and remembered in this way. The plants reflected the loving care with which they had been chosen, planted and tended. Masses of tall, white lilies contrasted to the many shades of green that was all around. Each plant reflecting poignant memories as they were chosen by the families. On a purely personal note, one perfect little rose was blooming for Dainty Dinah, near to the Rosemary for remembrance of Neil.

The weeks leading up to the Anniversary had been particularly painful, as each day was relived over and over again. Music was played by the Thoresby Colliery Welfare Band as we were taking our seats, and later during the ceremony, it helped to soothe our feelings a little and was much appreciated.

It meant a lot to us that Dame Judi Dench had made special plans in order to join us and, as was the case at our earlier Memorial Services, her reading of Christina Rossetti’s poem “Remember” touched many hearts.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal undertook the formal opening of the Memorial Garden and in a short address she expressed the feelings of so many people who would like to be of some help to the bereaved families except, they did not know how. She hoped that some comfort would be derived from having a dedicated place to visit and that the Garden would remain a living memorial where a little peace might be found and which future generations could continue to visit.

Princess Anne then placed a single white rose on the centre-piece Memorial Stone, inviting representatives of each family to lay a rose. Photographs and cards were added to these by some people and this part of the ceremony – although we needed to be part of it - became almost unbearable, the weight of grief was heavy in the air. A final rose was placed by Firefighter James Kerwin from Ladder 33 of the New York City Fire Department, to commemorate all those members of the emergency services who laid down their lives.

We were particularly pleased that Sophie Brandt, from the British Red Cross was able to be with us that afternoon, her last time with us before her next assignment in Zimbabwe. The help Sophie has given to so many families, both practical and emotional, is immeasurable and she has become a personal friend to all who have had contact with her. She read Henry van Dyke’s moving words on Time.

At the end of the formal proceedings we were grateful to find that refreshments had been prepared for us in a large marquee set up in the Square. There were many people we had not met before and it was an opportunity to exchange experiences, it is remarkable how our common bond makes it natural to talk to each other with a depth that is not always easy to achieve in everyday life. It was evident that many families have found this second year even more difficult than the first, this Anniversary in particular.

Many of us were able to speak to Princess Anne, who showed a genuine interest in talking with us.

We would like to thank all those who looked after us with such kindness, some from the DCMS and many others we did not know, each one of them in their own way helped us to get through the day.

Mary Jolliffe
30.1.2004


Grosvenor Square Memorial Garden - Update

Alex Clarke has become an official Royal Parks Volunteer. This enables her
to spend a few hours each week helping to maintain the memorial garden in Grosvenor Square. Alex will try to keep us up to date with the garden.

Most of you already know how wonderful the garden looked last September. It continued to grow and flourish well into late autumn so it seemed an awful shame to have to strip out the tender bedding in November as it was still flowering profusely. There were however, hundreds of bulbs to plant: tulips, Queen of the Night, Purple Prince and White Triumphator along with Narcissus thalia. Allium Purple sensation has been interspersed among them. The snowdrops we planted are already in flower along with the first Helibores (Christmas roses). We also planted primulas and polyanthus, which are yet to show them selves off. The blue and white forget-me-nots are looking very strong.

The climbing plants on the oak columns are growing away. The wisteria has been lightly pruned and tied in and the clematis Armandii‚ is already flowering.

The garden has a lot of visitors, from tourists passing through to American embassy staff to local residents who enjoy watching things grow. Howard Lutnick, head of Cantor Fitzgerald in New York visited the garden in January and was very impressed.

If anyone would like planting lists or plans of the garden please let me know as I have copies from the designers. All of the plants are widely available and I could also tell you where to source them.

Alex Clarke
February 2004


Letter by Clare Pillman – July 2003

Last month I spent two days in Grosvenor Square meeting many of the families who came to see how the memorial garden was coming along. The sun shone for us, and it was lovely to meet people again.

Spending time in the Square confirmed its rightness as a place for remembering those who lost their lives on 11 September 2001 in America. It is truly the “American Square”, housing memorials to Presidents Roosevelt and Eisenhower and to the Eagle Squadron pilots of World War Two. It is also, however, quintessentially British – a typical garden square providing an oasis of green close to the buzz of Oxford Street – used by residents and tourists alike to take time out from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The construction of the garden is coming along very well. Some families watched in fascination as the workmen from Carpenter Oak from Chippenham in Wiltshire lowered pieces of the pergola into position. The wooden structure is now complete – pegged together using traditional methods – and planting has begun this week. The garden will be completed by the end of July, but will not be open to the public until after the official opening by HRH The Princess Royal, which I hope many of you will be able to attend, on 11 September. However, we hope to be able to welcome those of you attending the Support Group AGM on 9 August to a private view that afternoon. We are also very happy to arrange special visits during August (just contact Matthew Ashwood on 020 7211 2334).

The creation of the garden has been a very special task for all those involved. We have felt it a great privilege to work with the families, and in such a historic and beautiful setting. It is very exciting seeing something move from inspirational ideas, through initial designs to worked-up plans and then into reality. I hope that all those of you who visit the garden over the next months and years find it a place of peace, serenity and healing.

Clare Pillman


Press articles

The official opening of the September 11 Memorial Garden, Grosvenor Square
Tessa Jowell Unveils Design For September 11 Memorial Garden In London
Tessa Jowell And US Ambassador, William Farish Plant White Roses


Design & Images

View the November 2002 Design Proposals booklet

Images of the Grosvenor Square Gardens under Construction.


Contact

For further details please contact Deirdre Wells at deirdre.wells@culture.gsi.gov.uk.

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