‘It’s not a pub garden’: Military heritage association angry with council over memorial garden use

Clifford Hall, historian, at the war memorial in the Abbey Gardens Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

Clifford Hall, historian, at the war memorial in the Abbey Gardens Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD - Credit: Archant

A military heritage association is “absolutely furious” with a council after a memorial garden was closed off to the public for a private wedding party.

The Normandy memorial in the Appleby Garden Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

The Normandy memorial in the Appleby Garden Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD - Credit: Archant

The Rougham Tower Association says St Edmundsbury Borough Council should not deny the public the opportunity to visit the Appleby Rose Garden in Bury St Edmunds’ award-winning Abbey Gardens.

Members of the committee claim it is “highly insensitive” to use the rose garden for that purpose on Saturday – and for financial gain – and have demanded an apology.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council said it “must be creative” with income generation and feels this is a “sensitive way to do so”.

Jo Rayner, St Edmundsbury Borough Council cabinet member for leisure, said: “I understand that any disrespect would cause strong feelings, but I am absolutely clear that none was intended.

The memorial bench made from the wing of an American 'Flying Fortress Bomber' Picture: MICHAEL STEWA

The memorial bench made from the wing of an American 'Flying Fortress Bomber' Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD - Credit: Archant

“I am also sorry that the occasional use of the rose garden for celebrating a life event like marriage is felt to be at odds with the ethos of the garden.

“The proceeds from the book Suffolk Summer were used to establish the rose garden as a quiet place for reflection and it became a focus for memorial later.

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“The award-winning Abbey Gardens remain free for all to enjoy but we must be creative with income generation and feel this is a sensitive way to do so.”

However David Hardy, chairman of the association, said: “We’re absolutely furious. To close it off to the public and hold a reception with drinks is sacrilegious, it’s not a pub garden.”

The Appleby Rose Garden was used for a private event, which has angered members of the Rougham Tower

The Appleby Rose Garden was used for a private event, which has angered members of the Rougham Tower Association Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD - Credit: Archant

Mike Brundle, treasurer of the association, said: “We want an apology and assurances that this will never happen again.

“Some of our older members are absolutely livid. It’s highly insensitive. The council has no right to deny entry to the people of Bury St Edmunds.”

Clifford Hall, historian, who was the driving force behind the 94th Bomb Group’s monument in the garden, said: “We know people use it as a backdrop for wedding pictures and that’s fair enough but I think a drinks reception with confetti is not quite right.”

The rose garden is named after John Appleby, an American serviceman who served with the 487th Bomb Group in Lavenham.

The WW1 trail in Bury St Edmunds also has a piece in the Appleby Garden Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

The WW1 trail in Bury St Edmunds also has a piece in the Appleby Garden Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD - Credit: Archant

A donation of royalties from his book Suffolk Summer funded the garden, which houses a number of memorials to war veterans.

The Appleby Rose Garden at the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

The Appleby Rose Garden at the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD - Credit: Archant

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