The Finest Ruin by Igo de Jager is a play which was staged at the Y Theatre last week. It told the story of the creation of the Leicester war memorial on Victoria Park through the lives and memories of two women who met there by chance. As their friendship deepens they discover a common thread which links them both to Edwin Lutyans.
Lutyens was the architect of the Cenotaph in London, and the Leicester war memorial on the park. He also designed the memorial to the missing in Thiepval which records the names of over 72,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed during the battles of the Somme and for whom there is no known gave. The arches of the Thiepval memorial are very reminiscent of our own memorial arch and it’s not difficult to see their common ancestry. Both are aligned East – West and the play provided some fascinating information about the Leicester memorial.
The East – West alignment and the positioning of the memorial mean that when viewed from along Peace Walk on Remembrance Day the sun rises through the memorial arch. A little bit of history unknown to me and, I suspect, many others. Other interesting bits of history in the play included the story of Sir Jonathan North, Mayor of Leicester 1914 – 1917, donating the money for the park gates in memory of his wife. The gates were also designed by Lutyans, along with the lodges on both sides of the main gates at London Road.
The Finest Ruin was part of the Heritage Lottery funded project ‘The Story of Parks’. The project includes the restoration of the park gates at the main entrance on London Road, and the entrance at Peace Walk.