St Albans district prepares to mark WWI centenary

WWI Centenary

WWI Centenary - Credit: Archant

A community project is being developed that will use the arts to explore the First World War heritage in the district.

A steering group has been set up to drive the project and develop a bid for additional funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of centenary celebrations of the 1914-18 war which will run into 2015.

Last week St Albans council hosted a workshop for community groups and parish councils on the First World War and among the proposals are the creation of an interactive map pinpointing the addresses of people from the district who died fighting in the war and key sites linked to St Albans’ First World War heritage.

Other ideas are arts workshops with schools and community groups, community theatre performances in partnership with Trestle Theatre, research into the social history of the buildings that carry memorial plaques in the Abbey parish and a celebration of the different communities involved in the war effort.

There will be walks organised by the Tour Guides to commemorate battles, the start of the war and the Armistice while Colney Heath parish council will be planting poppy seeds at entry points to the village and a local researcher is looking at the history of 50 parishioners who lost their life in the conflict.

The Museum of St Albans will be creating an exhibition on the impact of the war on family and community life and London Colney parish council is organising a parade and tea dance.

There will also be a project by St Albans Civic Society to raise awareness of the Verdun tree in Waxhouse Gate which was grown from a conker collected from the only tree to survive the 1916 battle at Verdun.

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Additional projects are being run by the Cathedral, the University of Herts, the St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society and St Michael’s Church.

Councillor Brian Ellis, St Albans council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “We will also be sowing poppy seeds at the entrances to the district’s cemeteries for the next four years, symbolising the duration of the war.

“A special paving stone is also being laid in St Albans in honour of St Albans-born Private Edward Warner who received a Victoria Cross in the war.”