On Saturday 21st October the National Trust will mark 200 years since the laying of the foundation stone at Wellington Monument. Together with partners from the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and ActionTrack performance company, the NT will present an evening performance and community celebration at the Monument.
It is said that 200 years ago the laying of the foundation stone for the Monument was celebrated with a procession of 10,000 locals from the town to the area where the Monument stands today.
Enthralled by this local story of community spirit, the National Trust are keen to mark and celebrate the bicentenary together with the Wellington community. As part of this special day, members of ActionTrack performance company are working with a volunteer group of local people – including members of Genesis Youth Theatre – and musicians to bring to life ‘The Story of a Stone’ in words, music and images. The team are currently busy making props and character cut-outs that represent key individuals in the narrative as well as rehearsing the script devised by ActionTrack’s Nick Brace. The window of Odettes Tea Room in the High Street presents a taste of the performance.
This free event will take place on Saturday 21 October from 7pm to 9pm in the glow of the world’s tallest three sided obelisk and everyone is invited to join the celebration. There will be food available to purchase on site and toilet facilities. The event will be held outdoors so everyone should come prepared for all weather and bring camping chairs.
Helen Sharp, Project Manager for the National Trust, said: ‘This is a striking landmark and Wellington’s own memorial to the Duke of Wellington and his victory at the Battle of Waterloo. It’s also a symbolic marker for many travellers on the M5, a landmark on their journey to or from home. We were disappointed to learn last week that our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to repair the monument had been unsuccessful but, whilst we are exploring where to go from here, we are keen to celebrate this momentous day in the Monument’s history with the local community.’
Local MP Rebecca Pow said: ‘The Wellington Monument is such an iconic part of our landscape and commemorates one of our greatest war heroes so I am delighted that we will be celebrating this important anniversary. It’s also much treasured locally and I know there will be a great deal of support for the event.’
For those who love to explore the local countryside there will also be a walk during the afternoon of the 21 October which will follow the footsteps of the community’s ancestors 200 years ago. Walkers will be joined by Colin Spackman, curator of Wellington Museum, who will take them on a journey through time as the group makes their way from the town centre to the Monument site. Those wishing to join the walk should meet at the Wellington Museum at 2pm on 21 October. Please come prepared for a moderate walk that entails a cross-country route.
At 175 feet, Wellington Monument is the tallest three-sided obelisk in the world. It was funded through public subscription with the foundation stone being laid in 1817 and was finally finished in 1853 after more than three decades of building work.