An historic green space in Combe Down is now protected in perpetuity.
A full meeting of Bath & North East Somerset Council has agreed to apply for Firs Field to be designated a Centenary Field.
The Centenary Fields programme, launched by Fields in Trust, aims to protect and preserve the UK’s war memorial fields, parks and green spaces with significance to World War I.
Firs Field has particular historical significance. In 1919 a group of discharged soldiers asked for a church hut to be built there and for the site to be used as a place for recreation for ex-soldiers, as a memorial to those who had died in the Great War. Local residents subsequently bought the land. The hut was built and a memorial cross, which still stands today, was erected.
A service and ceremony to mark the unveiling was attended by dozens of local people including a young soldier called Harry Patch, who years later, was to become one of the most famous British Soldiers to have fought in the war.
Harry Patch grew up on Combe Down. He saw active service in France and at the end of the war returned to live in the village. He became known as the ‘Last fighting Tommy’, having outlived all other soldiers who had fought in the trenches during the First World War. He died in 2009.
Today Firs Field continues to be at the centre of community life on Combe Down, and has an active Friends group which the Council is working with on this proposal. The site is now held on trust by Bath & North East Somerset Council to provide a public recreation facility for the residents.
Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North) Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “This is a very fitting way to remember those who gave their lives in the Great War and it seems appropriate that we protect this field, as Harry Patch grew up in Combe Down.”
If designated a Centenary Field, Firs Field would be protected in perpetuity through a legal deed of dedication between the Council and Fields in Trust. It would remain Bath & North East Somerset Council’s responsibility to maintain the site.