Three years ago I was leafing through some papers in my family archive and came across pictures from the 1890’s of Triumphant Arch’s that had been built by the people of Windsor for particular events in the then Sovereign’s reign. These structures were massive in size and ambition and often were constructed from Papier Mache.
Here are some examples
As you can see these arches are impressive in size. The first picture is castle hill where Queen Victoria’s statue now sits and the hight of the arch appears to tower over the top of what is now the Edinburgh Woolen Mill. Pretty substantial.
These magnificent structures gave me the inspiration of the Royal Windsor Rose and Horticultural Society (where I am Chairman) building our own Arch to commemorate Her Majesty’s Coronation and I wrote to Buckingham Palace to suggest the idea. To my surprise they replied that The Queen liked the idea and suddenly we had to think about how we might design an Arch for the 21st century.
A Local with Knowledge
Susann Laughton runs the on-line plant finder site Plantify (www.plantify.com) with her husband Peter. As a member of the RWRHS I had chatted to her and knew that the previous year she had been involved in the production of a garden at Hampton Court that had won Gold Medal. I spoke to Susann about the idea and she arranged a meeting with award-winning garden designer John Warland. The site we had decided on for the Arch was the top of the Long Walk at Cambridge gate one of the most iconic vistas in Britain.
A design for the 21st Century
John Warland is a man with a clear vision of contemporary horticulture and the vision he created for The Coroanation Arch was far removed from anything that that had gone before.
The Vision was expressed by Susann as follows ” It is our vision to present Her Majesty The Queen with a modern coronation arch that will symbolise her traditional roots connected to our modern times by using traditional/natural materials, sourced locally in Berkshire and surroundings, presented in a contemporary and minimalistic way. 2013 is not about being opulent but thrifty and respecting to nature”
Johns design was simply extraordinary:
Once again I wrote back to Buckingham Palace to present this modern design with mixed expectation as to what the reply would be. To my delight and excitement the Palace said yes and the project was accepted. However soon the realisation of the enormity of the design began to sink in and the stark reality of how to construct and fund such a structure.