Unveiling of plaque marks site of First World War woodland memorial

AN official unveiling was due to be held at 3pm on Sunday, November 13, of a new memorial at Castle Hill Country Park in Laverstock & Ford Parish.

In 2018, on the centenary of the end of the First World War, trees were planted at Castle Hill Country Park which have now become a woodland memorial to those who gave their lives fighting for their country. Now, as the woodland matures members of The Land Trust, which leases and manages the site, will be returning to place a memorial plaque marking the significance of the site.
A 100-year-old chestnut ‘monolith’ was sourced from Stourhead Estates on which the memorial has been installed.
Parish councillor, Lesley Waller who has been involved with the development of a public open space behind Bishopdown Farm, said: “Daily, we are reminded of the horrors of war by the situation in Ukraine, so it is timely to think about all the people who sacrificed their lives during the First World War, whether at the frontline or on the home front.
“Planting the first oak tree in this wood, back in 2018, was an honour for me, one I treasure. We will remember them, and we do.”

In March 2019, Barratt Homes transferred the Country Park to Laverstock & Ford Parish Council. Following consultation with residents the name Castle Hill Country Park was chosen. The history of the area and proximity to Old Sarum Hillfort and Old Sarum Airfield, formed a large part of the design, while interpretive Iron Age play features, a miz-maize, and a memorial woodland were included in the features formed by re-profiling 15 hectares of the site with approximately 90,000 tonnes of spoil from the Riverdown Park development for habitat creation.
Today, Castle Hill features popular walks and running routes, a much-loved dog agility field, a trim trail, a play park, picnic area, ball sports court, a mountain biking area, and the memorial woodland; a peaceful spot for catching sight of birds of prey and planes landing and taking off from the nearby historic Old Sarum Airfield.
Hannah Bosence from The Land Trust, said: “We are pleased to help care for and maintain the memorial woodland. Not only will it help create a wonderful habitat with the native species provided by the Woodland Trust, but it also helps all of us remember how lucky we are to enjoy our freedom to explore our open spaces, thanks to the efforts of those who have gone before us.”

While not technically fulfilling the requirements for a designated ‘Country Park’, Castle Hill Country Park was the name chosen by residents of Laverstock & Ford parish during consultation on the future of the chalk downs and farmland area not included in development plans for building houses on the site known as Bishopdown Farm.
This happened once it was decided to preserve the open space as a green barrier between Bishopdown Farm and Ford.

The country park, located on former farmland, provides fine views across south Wiltshire as far as Salisbury Plain to the north and the fringes of the New Forest to the south.

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