THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
An acre of land in Surrey dedicated to former US President John F Kennedy has been given special Grade II protected status. In an announcement today, August 21, Historic England revealed that more than 20 gardens and parks across England would be added to the Register of Parks and Gardens, part of the National Heritage List for England. Today's announcement was the result of a three year collaboration between Historic England and The Gardens Trust.
The Kennedy memorial landscape was designed during 1964 and 1965 by one of Britain's best known post-war architects, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe. It was jointly dedicated on May 14, 1965 by Queen Elizabeth II and Jacqueline Kennedy, two years after the President had been assassinated in November 1963.
Historic England explain that "The landscape is significant because of the light it sheds on Anglo-American relations during this period, and the international regard for President Kennedy. It is also an important part of the historic landscape of Runnymede, the water meadows associated with the signing of the Magna Carta and the development of democratic government."
The memorial is part of an acre of land which was given to the United States by the people of Britain. There is a flight of 50 steps up to the memorial stone monument - each step is different, creating an irregular path, designed to symbolise a pilgrimage. Although the land is in the ownership of the Federal Government, it remains under the sovereignty of the UK, whilst the memorial is preserved by the Kennedy Memorial Trust.
Explaining the importance of today's list of protected gardens, Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said "These past few months have taught us that our green open spaces improve the quality of the environment around us, are good for our wellbeing and give us breathing space. This project shines a light on some amazing landscapes that exist all over the country, celebrating how they enhance our lives, and helping to protect them for generations to come."
Dominic Cole, President of The Gardens Trust, continued, saying "Twentieth-century heritage landscapes have often been overlooked and undervalued so we hope that these additions to the Register will throw a spotlight on the importance and quality of post-war designed landscapes."
The JFK Memorial is free to visit. For more details, go to the National Trust website for Runnymede - www.nationaltrust.org.uk/runnymede. For details on other gardens in today's list, check out historicengland.org.uk.