A reconstruction of the trench built in Kensington Gardens during the First World War to provide training for troops is opening to the public.
Visitors are being invited to go on an immersive tour of the gardens’ very own Great War trench, which a century ago formed part of the government’s top secret plans to devise ways to defeat the enemy.
It takes place on the next two Sundays (September 17 and 24) and is part of a series of activities hosted by The Royal Parks together with The Royal Parks Guild to mark the centenary of the war.
During the conflict, 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 wheelchair-accessible 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.
An exhibition complementing the tour 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.
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.
Eleanor Harding, First World War lead at The Royal Parks, said: “This one-off interactive tour brings to life the story of how techniques developed at Kensington Gardens’ Camouflage School helped baffle and ultimately defeat the enemy – from painting ships with zebra stripes to disguising key look-out points as trees."
Ms Harding added: “Today the Royal Parks are the heart and lungs of London, providing a slice of nature away from the hustle and bustle of the city for millions of visitors.
"But not many people realise that 100 years ago they played a more dramatic role to provide top secret information to the army which helped save many lives on the battlefield.”
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