Visitors are invited to go on an immersive tour of Kensington Gardens’ very own First World War trench – a reconstruction of the one built in the park 100 years ago, which formed part of the Government’s top-secret plans to devise ways to defeat the enemy.
Two free public events on Sunday, September 17 and 24 invite families to discover the vital – but undercover – role played by London’s Royal Parks during wartime Britain.
The tours are part of a series of activities hosted by The Royal Parks together with The Royal Parks Guild to mark the centenary of the Great War.
During the war, Kensington Gardens was turned into a small slice of the western front to help soldiers get to grips with trench construction, warfare and living. And now visitors can go back in time to experience trench life for themselves.
Every half hour a costumed soldier from the 10th Essex Living History Regiment will lead a 20-minute interactive tour around a specially-constructed open-air trench to give groups a unique glimpse of how the army slept, ate and engaged the enemy during the Battle of the Somme. Events are wheelchair accessible.
To complement the tour, an exhibition will reveal how the original Camouflage School, sited at Kensington Gardens, enabled the army to experiment with innovative tactics to confuse the enemy through disguise - from cardboard cut-outs of soldiers to ships inspired by zebras.
Discover the story of how Solomon J. Solomon, a pioneer of camoflage techniques, established the school. Find out how he convinced the army to translate the camouflage techniques found in nature into cutting-edge techniques to deflect enemy aerial reconnaissance of troops and vehicles - and how he knitted camouflage nets from his mother-in-law’s house.
Families can visit Kensington Gardens' war allotments, tended to by a team of volunteers. During the war, the view from Kensington Gardens was of radishes not roses. Growing-your-own provided a vital boost to a rationed diet. Visitors can learn how Kensington Gardens led the way with a 'model allotment' and discover vegetables produced during that period of history that are no longer grown.
A range of other activities will also be on offer including face painting and the chance for children to play a giant interactive game to bring the story of the First World War to life.