DARWIN GARDENS MILLENNIUM GREEN
Several original ideas to commemorate
the millennium within Darwin Gardens are proposed below for consideration.
These may be regarded as 'seeds' for features to be developed, modified
or discarded as conditions permit in the evolution of the scheme. It is
to be expected that further discussion and involvement with interested
parties will naturally lead to alternative or additional proposals.
The proposers of this scheme are fully aware
that its intention should be to celebrate a millennium Anno Domini' rather
than merely Anno Darwinii', and have sought to embody an appropriately
spiritual element within the overall design. It may be appreciated that
a theme common to several of the features would be the symbolic merging
and conciliation of ancient mythological sources, Biblical references,
and modern scientific knowledge.
It is believed that such a 'marriage of ideas',
reaffirming the possibility of a harmonious relationship between long-divided
modes of thought, imbues the Darwin Gardens scheme with a suitably 'millennial'
Scrub clearance alongside the ghylls, with retention
of selected trees would precede replanting, preferably with native wildflowers
and appropriately-sited young trees. There would be considerable scope
to attract both local sponsorship and group involvement in the planting
scheme, which would stimulate and affirm our community's active committment
to the future.
The present grassed areas would be augmented
by landscaping part of the present 'car park' and provide a setting for
planting individual commemorative trees to celebrate the lives of family
members - or of societies and groups. With additional benches, this area
could continue to be a focus for picnics and informal gatherings.
'Tree of Life'
A monument in the form of a time-dial could be
constructed on the site of the former bandstand, surrounding a planted
specimen tree. This monument, based on the theme of the 'Tree of Life',
could also include references to the evolutionary tree arising from Darwin's
discoveries, and be laid out in the style of a mosaic, referring to Ilkley's
Roman heritage. It would have an additional local connection with an important
local prehistoric carved stone known as the 'Tree of Life Stone', and would
celebrate the continuing spirit of environmental regeneration in the local
'Rock of Ages'
A further feature could be a 'Rock of Ages; essentially
a series of pictorial and symbolic designs in the spirit of the ancient
ones found on the adjacent moor, to be carved on the boulder wall of the
former loggia. These could depict life forms illustrative of stages in
evolutionary development, and hence constitute another link with Darwin's
work, as well as celebrating the diversity of life. This is another feature
that lends itself to sponsorship financing, as each carved design could
be selected and/or sponsored by schools, businesses, community groups and
societies, private individuals, etc.
It has been suggested that the last remaining
wall and former water supply of the demolished toilets (built into the
side of one of the ghylls) could be converted to a mural with working spout,
symbolising the regenerative 'Water of Life', and reflecting the spirit
of the famed hydropathic treatments of the locality.
This proposal is for a maze to be laid out using
gritstone flags or setts, a vernacular material for surfacing paths across
the moors in this area of the Pennines. The design of the maze would be
based on the 'fylfot' - an ancient symbol found as another prehistoric
rock carving on the famous 'Swastika Stone' of nearby Rombalds Moor. Designs
based on those of Ilkley's Anglian crosses would also be incorporated,
for the whole work to symbolise the evolution of mankind's spiritual development
over the millennia.
Charles Darwin was arguably the greatest Victorian
visitor to Ilkey. A suitable memorial could be placed at the top end of
the site, adjacent to one of the entrances to the former hydro of Wells
House and looking down to 'Hillside', the house where Darwin and his family
stayed. The memorial could be in the form of a metal plaque bearing a likeness
worked in Victorian style and mounted on a local fossil-bearing boulder.
This would commemorate Darwin's achievements in the field of evolutionary
The lower end of the site could be an ideal location
for a monument to mark the creation of 'Darwin Gardens'. One suitable design
could be a figure of 'Janus' (as already used to mark the gateways of the
Roman Fort), in this instance celebrating the turn of the Millennium, and
our view back to the rich heritage of Ilkley's past, allied to our inspired
vision for the future, as exemplified by the scheme of commemoration and
regeneration at West View Park.
The location of Darwin Gardens is itself an
appropriate one for a Millennial scheme: poised midway between the relatively
primitive 'wilderness' of the Moor and the civilised settlement of the
Town, it symbolises the human situation conceived as a balance between
body and mind - our primal, physical natures and our intellectual, spiritual
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