A much-loved green space in Combe Down is to gain official “Centenary Field” designation this week, thanks to a nationwide initiative involving the Royal British Legion.
Centenary Fields is a nationwide initiative of Fields in Trust in partnership with The Royal British Legion, to protect and preserve the UK’s war memorial fields, parks and green spaces, including in particular war memorials and other spaces with significance relating to World War One.
The designation, which was initiated by the previous Liberal Democrat administration of B&NES Council, means the field will be protected in perpetuity through a legal Deed of Dedication between the Council and Fields in Trust.
Councillor Cherry Beath (Liberal Democrat, Combe Down) championed the initiative from the start.
She said: “I am delighted to see Firs Field gain official designation as a Centenary Field. It is a fitting tribute to and reminder of those who gave their lives in the Great War.
“The history of Firs Field is particularly poignant. In 1919 a number of discharged soldiers requested that a memorial Church Army Hut be built on the field in memory of their comrades who had died in the fighting.
“It was the local vicar, Reverend Sweetapple, acting on behalf of residents, arranged for the purchase of the field by public subscription.
“Many local residents remember Harry Patch, known as the ‘Last fighting Tommy’, who grew up in Combe Down.
“He notably took part in the service to unveil the war memorial on 28th May 1921.
“The field is much loved locally and is a focus for the Combe Down community. Residents greatly value the origins of the field and the fact that local people gave subscriptions towards the purchase.
“This official designation will give the field added protection and will publicly honour its links with the First World War.”