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The Garden



Unlike many other small towns, Emsworth did not have a public war memorial. The names of the war dead are displayed in St James’ Church but there was no appropriate public space where people of all faiths and none could gather to commemorate those who have died in war and other conflicts.


The idea for the memorial came originally from the Emsworth Community Board, in response to several members of the community, especially by our President, Harold Groom, who had been campaigning to have a memorial in Emsworth for many years. The subsequent memorial sculpture was financed with Central Government funding through the Liveability scheme. And after much discussion, the design and site of the memorial was chosen.


The sculpture ‘Absence’ was erected in May 2006 together with a block paved path. In August 2006, the memorial sculpture was unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mrs Mary Fagan, and dedicated by the Reverend Tom Kennar.



The Memorial Sculpture, ‘Absence’


Central to the Garden is the Sculpture 'Absence', designed by Michael Johnson. The sculpture depicts a uniformed man in the drill position 'Rest on the Arms Reversed' cut out as a silhouette in a stainless steel sail to symbolise Emsworth’s connection with the sea.


‘Absence’ is dedicated to all those local people who have died throughout the world in the name of peace and justice, and whilst giving aid in times of conflict and disaster. The base of the sculpture bears the words in bronze relief, “Lest we forget” and “We will remember them”.


The Garden


The Garden is now a special place for reflection and contemplation to which people of all faiths and none can come, individually or in groups, to reflect in their own way on events in times of trouble.


Improvements completed so far:

  • New entrances, new block paved areas and paths;

  • Seating areas and an information board;

  • Planting of the raised bed and rose and beech hedges to create seclusion was completed in March/April 2008;

  • Ongoing problems with the beech hedge, caused by flooding and drought and beech aphid meant that half of the plants had died and the rest looked miserable, so a decision was made to replace them with hornbeam, which copes much better with these conditions. The beech was removed in November 2009 and replanted with hornbeam in December 2009:

  • Trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials in the raised bed;

  • Dedication plaque commemorating the unveiling and dedication of Absence. 

  • The crowning glory was the installation and dedication on 24 July 2009 of stainless steel plaques lining the path to Absence, commemorating the war dead of the two World Wars and later conflicts (see photo).

  • Teucrium hedge to the sides of the names was planted in October 2009;

  • Crocuses were planted in the raised bed in October 2010, and snowdrops in the green were planted in the raised bed in March 2011:

  • The temporary chestnut pale fence with bright green windbreak around the garden was replaced with a permanent fence in March 2013, using recycled uprights from the recreation ground tennis courts, and new black mesh.

  • Planting bulbs in the grass and raised bed and next to the bench in the southern corner, 1,200 Tete a Tete daffodils and 2,000 Whitewell Purple crocuses were planted in the grass in October 2013, by 23 volunteers.


Still to do:

  • Planting other borders around the entrances and seating areas.




The Garden is situated on the southeast corner of Emsworth Jubilee Recreation Ground off Horndean Road.


From Emsworth town centre go up North Street past the railway station and under the two bridges, bear left at the ‘Y’ junction into Horndean Road (2) The entrance to the Garden is on the left hand side at the junction with Coldharbour Farm Road. There is a free car park in the recreation ground about 200 yards further up Horndean Road.

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