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The History of the Memorial Gardens
When Aubrey Parnell fell into a hole in a thicket in 1971 he did not envisage what that small accident would materialize into. Clandon Park had long been the home of the Earl of Onslow and it was in 1970 that Aubrey and his wife Phyllis came to Clandon as Administrators to ensure the smooth running of this Palladian Mansion.
The faithful restoration of the house and the preparation for showing of the superb Gubbay collection of ceramics, furniture and needlework had all been done, but there was still a lot still to clear up in the grounds. Hence the exploration of the thicket close to the ancient West Clandon Parish Church.
The Dutch Garden was built by Frances Countess of Onslow in the late 19th Century and was copied from the Dutch Garden at Hampton Court, so called after those gardens left at home by William of Orange. It was cared for until the death of the fifth Earl in 1945. Then until 1971 the garden reverted to nature, the paving stones removed, the topiaries lost their shape and elm suckers sprouted 20 to 30 feet high.
In 1971 the National Trust found an unexpectedly valuable painting belonging to Lord Onslow and the proceeds were used to restore the Dutch Garden. Duke of Edinburgh Award boys cleared the garden and in 1973 the British Airways Air Cabin Crew Fund founded in 1971 to support their colleagues gave plants and funds in memory of crew members that had passed away.
In 1973 Memorial Day was started because of the 'Plant a tree in 73' campaign. It was agreed that a tree should be planted as a living memory to deceased colleagues. After discussion a suitable venue was sought and following negotiations with the National Trust Clandon Park was chosen. Recently the planting of a tree has changed to an annual donation from the Air Cabin Crew Fund to the National Trust to help maintain the Memorial Garden.
Every year since 1973 a Memorial Reading has been held in the garden. Until Clandon Patrk reopens, which is projected to be in 2023, the Fund's Memorial Days will be held at Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, Surrey. The Memorial Day is attended by the family, friends and colleagues of crew members who have died in service. At Clandon everyone collected in the Dutch Garden for a prompt 3pm start signalled by the chiming of the nearby Church clock bells.
Following words of welcome two minutes silence were observed to recall our memories followed by the laying of wreaths.
Then the names of loved family, friends and colleagues who have passed away were read out in tribute before everyone adjourns to the Main House for afternoon tea.
Relatives attended from every part of British Airways and its predecessors. So many who attend find solace and comfort in proceedings and those joining us for the first time are always made most welcome and will be at the Brooklands Museum Memorial Garden.
If you wish for the name/s of those you come to remember to be read out, please email us with your details, the number attending in your party and the name/s as you would like them included.
At the top of the garden is a sundial in memory of Dougie East whose vision founded the Fund in 1971. By the wrought iron gate at the entrance to the enclosed garden and given by the Air Cabin Crew Fund is an engraved plaque telling visitors who the garden is in memory of.
The anonymous poem traditionally read each year at the ACCF Memorial Service
Miss me, but let me go
Now that I have come to the end of the day
And the sun has set for me.
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why weep for a soul set free?
So, miss me a little but not too much
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember all the times we shared,
And miss me, but let me go.
For this is a journey we each must make,
And each must make alone.
It is all part of a master plan
It's a step on the road to home.
So, when you feel fearful, tearful, alone, turn to the loved ones we know,
And express your sorrow in compassionate deeds
And miss me,
but let me go.
The Dougie East Memorial Sundial at Clandon Park