Royal Hospital Chelsea and The Royal Parks host multi-media exhibition commemorating the transition from WW1 into peace

Royal Hospital Chelsea and The Royal Parks host multi-media exhibition commemorating the transition from WW1 into peace


Exhibition commemorates centenary of signing of Treaty of Versailles, June 28 2019

The Royal Hospital Chelsea will host a unique multimedia exhibition charting the roles of The Royal Parks and the Royal Hospital during World War 1 and into peace time, ahead of the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the treaty of Versailles on June 28, 2019.  

The free exhibition, ‘From the World War 1 battlefields and into the peace’, is a partnership between The Royal Hospital Chelsea, The Royal Parks and The Royal Parks Guild, hosted at the Royal Hospital Chelsea’s historic Wren House from 29 to 31 March.

Visitors can uncover the stories of war and peace as told through photographs, original artefacts, historical re-enactments, expert talks and specially-commissioned artwork by Chelsea Pensioner Rick Graham, illustrating the theme of WW1 and its memories.

Read about Sylva Boyden, the first woman to descend from a tethered balloon by a packed parachute in Richmond Park. And find out why the Silver Badge Men, who could not serve but wanted to be treated with dignity, marched in Hyde Park.  

Examine a copy of the Treaty of Versailles, which was given to the Royal Hospital following the Great War, as part of a scheme to provide a copy to every regiment or unit in the military forces.

Interact with the 10th Essex Living History Group, ‘living historians’, who will recreate a section of a WW1 trench, and re-enact the demobilisation of a unit coming back home to England after the war, complete with original tents, cycles, uniforms and equipment to demonstrate the transition back into civilian life. And attend a series of free guest lectures, each day at 2pm.

“The First World War saw fundamental changes in all aspects of society, so when the guns fell silent in November 1918 and people wanted to return to a sense of normality, the world had moved on.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea was to some extent no different; post-Armistice it remained very much the same but now with the added effort of coping with not simply the needs of a regular professional army and its veterans, but the fallout from having had over four years of mass enlistment, service and invalidity.

The exhibition illustrates how the Hospital coped with the war itself and the transition to a much-changed peacetime environment and society” said John Rochester, Heritage Manager at Royal Hospital Chelsea.

“This fascinating exhibition reveals the vital role played by The Royal Parks in aiding the war effort 100 years ago, and marks how the parks celebrated the peace that followed. This is a unique chance to uncover the stories of the gardeners and grounds staff that were called away from their families to fight a devastating war, some of them destined never to return.

The exhibition will honour soldiers like Royal Parks gardener Hori Tribe, a family man who sent his wife pressed flowers from the front line in his letters home, before he was killed in battle on December 8, 1917.

You can also find out why 20,000 Silver Badge Men – those who could not serve in the war due to injury or illness – marched in Hyde Park. These stories form part of the rich heritage of The Royal Parks and must never be forgotten” said Tom Jarvis, Director of Parks at The Royal Parks.

“Through this exhibition, we’re bringing to life the important but under-explored roles that the Royal Parks played in WW1, along with the people who worked in them, some of whom went to war and didn’t return. The exhibition will use images, talks, and displays to reveal the reality of war right through to the celebrations of peace. The Guild has uncovered a wealth of fascinating information that was in danger of being forgotten over time and is sharing this with new generations through an exciting programme of research and interpretation, helping record and preserve the legacy of the conflict” said Mike Fitt, Chairman of the Royal Parks Guild.

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