Penrith “Armistice Oak” will keep war memories alive

Date: Monday 15th April 2019

THE wide range of Penrith-area events that have commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Great War 1914-18 is to culminate with the planting and dedication of an English oak tree in Castle Park.

It will be known as the Armistice Oak, says Rory Stewart MP, president of the Penrith Remembers voluntary group that was formed in 2014. A programme of war remembrance events has taken place in association with local authorities, voluntary groups, individuals and businesses in the town.

At the public ceremony on Wednesday at the Castle Park bandstand (starting 2pm) the sapling tree of the species Querus Robur will be ceremonially planted by Ann Risman, founder of Penrith Remembers, and then dedicated by Canon David Sergant. It could grow to almost 40ft.

The Armistice Oak will be positioned between two other mature memorial oaks — the Verdun Oak planted at the opening of the Castle Park on Empire Day, 24th May, 1923, and what is believed to be the Festive Oak, which marks the 1951 Festival of Britain. The Verdun Oak is reportedly linked to symbolic acorns brought to England from the French battlefield of Verdun, France.

Centenary events over the last four years include laying of a memorial stone in the Castle Park for a Glassonby-born Australian VC soldier, two books of First World War memories, talks, exhibitions, concerts, excursions and a performance by Penrith Players.

With help from the Heritage Lottery and Cumbria County Library, Richard Preston, co-chairman of Penrith Remembers, and a small team of volunteers have compiled a public historic reference of 200 local servicemen who lost their lives.

Mr Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, said: “A great deal of interest has been shown nationally in what is happening in Penrith. The Armistice Oak is a life-affirming symbol, a living legend and one we will use to remember those who have fallen, the injured and those left behind.”