Lytham in Bloom honours soldiers and nurses from The Great War

Updated: Jun 14, 2018

Whilst working on the herbaceous borders in Lowther Gardens, the gold award winning team from Lytham in Bloom noticed a small monument dedicated to the nurses from the First World War.

“The message on the monument aroused my interest” said Lytham in Bloom committee member Margaret Ashton. I made further enquiries and established a link between those soldiers restored to health by nurses from Star Hills, which in the war, served as a Voluntary Aid Departments as they were known were conceived by the British Red Cross and mobilised during the First World War. At their height, they had 3,000 such hospitals and 90,000 volunteers, two thirds of whom were women. At the end of the war, soldiers nursed at Starr Hills commissioned the small monument as a token of their gratitude to those nurses” added Margaret.

Starr Hills Chaplain Richard Golding said that Starr Hills were completely unaware of the monument. “We knew of Starr Hills past V.A.D. status” said Richard. “Outwardly, the building is little changed from those days. It was designed by the artist Richard Ansdell from whom the area derives its name. In fact, we do have a sober reminder of those days in that the cellar was used as a morgue for those poor souls who did not survive. Star Hills was also used as a V.A.D. hospital in WWII” confirmed Richard.

“The monument has a sun dial on the top – At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them- It was chipped in several places and the garden surrounding it was somewhat neglected, so I decided to do something about it” said a determined Margaret.”

Research revealed that herbs were widely used by nurses to aid healing in the days of the Great War, so as well as having the monument repaired, I decided to create an apothecary garden utilising where possible, herbs used for healing and nursing from those days. The garden is in the shape of a horse shoe. Was this design chosen to remember the huge part horses played in The Great War or is it purely coincidental ? Perhaps we will never know.”

The discovery of the memorial is rather timely. There is a national campaign to uncover lost WW1 monuments currently being run by the National War Memorial Trust and we have contacted them . They are also keen to hear of the part in the Great War played by women. This discovery seems to tick both boxes. The BBC also highlighted the campaign.

Permission for the work to begin was granted by Fylde Borough Council and the Lowther Gardens Trust. Finance for the restoration of the monument and the purchase of herbs was generously offered by Lytham St Annes Skip Hire. Andy Gillett explained that both his Grandfather and his wife’s Grandfather enlisted for the First World War when only 16 years of age. Andy’s Grandfather, Jack Taylor was from Preston and fought in the Somme. “Along with my Dad, my Granddad was my hero” said Andy.”My wife’s Grandfather, Earnest Witts was a Lewis gunner and saw plenty of action. Helping to establish an apothecary garden and restore the soldiers monument is a fitting way for me and my sons to pay tribute” concluded Andy. The herbs we planted, along with their potential medical uses, are listed below.

Please note, Lytham in Bloom is not suggesting that the herbs have medical uses. This is a memorial. This is not medical advice. Please refer to a doctor for medical advice.

  • Lavender Rosea (Headaches, anti fungal, decongestant, Calms nerves, aids depressions)

  • Lavender Hidcote (ditto)

  • Rosemary Officinalis  (helps clean skin & itchy scalps)

  • Common Thyme (anti bacterial, asthma, bronchitis, insomnia)

  • Golden Feverfew. (I wanted common, but none available. Helps migraine & arthritis) 

  • Chives (antibiotic, Blood cleanser, Dysentery & typhoid)

  • Curry Plant (soothes burns & chapped skin)

  • Cotton Lavender (used to expel internal parasites)

  • Purple Sage (Blood tonic, Skin infections, Insect bites) 

  • Marjoram (Asthma, Nerves, rheumatics, flatlulence )

  • Nepeta 6 hills giant (Vitamin C, Colds, Hemorrhoids etc)

  • We also planted 4 English Honeysuckle to climb the archway.

This restored monument and apothecary garden in Lowther Gardens together with the Cenotaph and Memorial Garden in Lytham Square, serve to remind the people of Lytham that we owe our present freedom to the sacrifices made by those who have gone before us.

The original inscription on the restored monument reads:

A Token of Gratitude.

The gift of those soldiers wounded in the Great War 1914-1918 who were restored to health by the skilful nursing of the ladies of the Starr Hills V.A.D. Hospitals and to the generous residents of this District who ministered to their comfort.

Please note: Lytham in Bloom is not providing medical advice. This article is not a medical article and does not contain medical advice of any kind. Lytham in Bloom will not be held responsible if this disclaimer is ignored.


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