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Gardens of Easton Lodge commemorates First and Second World War memories

Prize-giving day at the Essex Yeomanry camp, 1905 (13343934)
Prize-giving day at the Essex Yeomanry camp, 1905 (13343934)

The Gardens of Easton Lodge are marking their First and Second World War heritage in an open day this month.

The Grade II listed landmark will open to the public on Sunday, July 21, to commemorate the centenary of the peace treaty following the end of the Great War and its contribution to D-Day in 1944.

In the lead up to the First World War, the Countess of Warwick, who owned Easton Lodge, feared the conflict would set back social reform, but she and the Earl regularly hosted training camps for the Essex Yeomanry.

The estate was then briefly taken over by the military authorities in 1914; and the Countess, like others, had to wave her sons off to war.

At the end of the war, the Earl and Countess of Warwick hosted peace celebrations for the l villages surrounding Easton Park, on July 19, 1919, the national "Peace Celebration Day".

The Countess had passed away before the Second World War began the estate was requisitioned again, this time for an airfield and 10,000 trees across the estate were felled.

General Dwight Eisenhower’s visit to Easton Lodge, April1944 (13343936)
General Dwight Eisenhower’s visit to Easton Lodge, April1944 (13343936)

The US Army Air Force 386th Bomb Group was based there and after a visit to by General Dwight D Eisenhower who was a five-star general in the United States Army and served as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe, they were chosen to be responsible for the final wave of bombing before troops landed on D-Day.

The Easton Lodge pilots flew four missions that day and a few minutes after they dropped their bombs, the first troops landed on the beach.

General Eisenhower went on to serve as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

The RAF 190 and 620 Squadrons moved in after the Americans moved on to Beaumont-sur-Oise in France in October 1944. The house was handed back to its owners after the war, but could not be maintained and so was largely demolished, leaving one wing, now known as Warwick House. The house and Gardens were left untended from the 1950s and fell into disrepair.

Visitors to the Gardens on July 21 will be able to learn more about the contribution of the men and women working at Easton Lodge during the wars.

In addition, there will be displays about Nuthampstead Airfield, the 8th Air Force and the Heritage RAF Association, military vehicles and memorabilia and period motorcars.

The Royal British Legion will also be attending and Perfect Vintage will be performing classic wartime songs to sing along or dance to.

The gardens are open from 11.30am to 5pm with last entry at 4pm. Entry is £4.50 for adults and there is free entry for children under 16 and well-behaved dogs on leads.

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