Transfer of Tree Dedication Plaques

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

The National Memorial Arboretum, part of the Royal British Legion, joins the Nation, the Commonwealth and the rest of the World in mourning the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was a Life Member of the Royal British Legion and he was gracious and generous in his support of the National Memorial Arboretum over many years.


There will be some changes to dedication plaque locations as a result of landscaping for the National Police Memorial, Lit by Gilded Absence. 

In looking to accommodate new memorials within a finite space, as part of our landscape master plan, we sometimes make changes to the location of memorials and tree dedication plaques. In doing so, our vision is to improve the layout and flow of the Arboretum, opening up both new lines of sight and iconic focal points, which will create interest and draw increasing numbers of visitors deep into our fascinating woodlands.

Any such change is undertaken with the greatest sensitivity and every effort is made to liaise with people who have placed dedication plaques.

We wish to have the chance to explain the changes and why they are in the best interests of the Arboretum as a whole and the many individuals and organisations that are represented here. As a result of the placing of the National Police Memorial, some dedication plaques in this area will have to move to a different tree, but in a nearby location.

In allocating a different tree, we will be as diligent and apply the same care as we do when a tree dies or has to be removed due to essential thinning or maintenance. While we recognise that moving plaques is far from ideal, we hope you understand that the future development of the Arboretum would be impossible otherwise. We take our roles as guardians of remembrance seriously and believe that these changes are important for the overall good of the site.

Should you have any questions or concerns, you are encouraged to contact us on 01283 245100 or at We will be pleased to speak with you and further explain the rationale and the proposed timings for this latest development.

How many plaques need to be removed?
How many trees are involved - are all the affected trees dedicated?

Approximately 300 trees will be removed but we are planting a woodland of equal ecological value elsewhere on our site, including disease resistant Elms. 

How big is the area involved?

Approximately 0.3HA

What is the Millennium Wood and does it have a special significance?

The Millennium Wood features some individually sponsored mixed-variety trees. Unlike some areas on site, it is not limited to any particular service or eligibility criteria. 

When will the trees be removed?

The trees will be removed before the nesting season begins to minimise the impact on wildlife. In line with recommendations issued by the RSPB, they will all be removed before the end of February 2020.

What type of trees are they and how well established/big are they?

There is a mixture of native species (oak, willow, birch , ash , pine). Trees have struggled to flourish in this area due to the ground conditions and over the years a number of trees have died and been replaced, so none of the trees are particularly large or well established.

Isn’t it rather unnecessary/environmentally unfriendly to cut down the trees?

From time to time, it is necessary to remove some trees from the Arboretum in order to accommodate new memorials within a finite space, as part of our landscape master plan. Our vision is to improve the layout and flow of the Arboretum, opening up both new lines of sight and iconic focal points.

We have identified areas for new planting total just under 900sq metres (just under 0.1ha). By using a mix of native tree and shrub species we can accommodate at least 300 or 400 plants with a good spacing, which should lessen the pressure for future thinning. The mix of the plants will provide for a more diverse range of tree and shrub species than already exists whilst providing habitat and structure for improving the diversity of wildlife in those areas.

When will the Plaques be replaced?
The plaques will be moved prior to the felling of dedicated trees.
Where will they be moved to?

They will be moved to other trees within the same woodland area.

Will the owners get a choice of where they go?

If a plaque owner has a particular place that they would like the plaque moving to then we will try to accommodate this. It will not always be possible as some areas are already densely populated with dedication plaques and future woodland management needs to be considered.

Will there be a dedication event or blessing for the Plaques when they are moved?

This will be down to the individual plaque owners. We do not encourage this as trees sometimes die or need be moved for arboricultural reasons. We hope that the plaque owners share our vision of the whole Arboretum as a focus for Remembrance rather than individual trees.

Who/what do the plaques remember?

The Plaques normally remember individuals, some of whom will have served in the Armed Forces and for others there is no military connection. Some plaques remember groups of people or ships/regiments/squadrons etc.

Are there ashes interred under some of the trees?

In the very early days of the Arboretum some ashes were interred/scattered under trees but since 2005 this has not been allowed. From our records we do not believe that there are any ashes in the area affected by the Police Memorial.

How long have the trees been there?

Some will have been there for 20 years but many will be younger, as replacement trees needed to be planted because some of the original trees failed to thrive due to the lack of optimal growing conditions.

Have you liaised with the owners of the plaques?

We have written to all the plaque owners that we have contact details for.

Did the National Forest donate the trees? What do they think?

The National Forest are great supporters of the Arboretum and are very supportive of the way we manage our woodlands.  

What do the plaque owners think about the situation?

We understand some people may be disappointed by our need to remove trees, but all such decisions are always thoroughly considered. In the case of this particular memorial and location, we believe, on balance, that it will enhance the overall site, the immediate area and result in better quality trees for dedication owners.

What if the plaque owners don’t agree to the plaques being moved?

We will do our best to come to a mutually acceptable solution but it is important for the development of the Arboretum as UK’s year-round centre of Remembrance that we can continue to attract memorials of national significance.

Is it the first time you have done something like this?

No, we often have to make changes to the location of memorials and tree dedication plaques. In line with this, we do make it clear to people who apply for dedication plaques that we reserve the right to relocate a dedication to another tree if the original one perishes or has to be removed.

Why can’t you put the Police Memorial somewhere else?

The Police Memorial is significant both in size and national importance so it will be a focal point on site. The selected location has the least impact on the environment, whilst providing good access for our visitors.

When will the Police Memorial be installed?

Planning permission was granted in March 2019 and work will begin early 2020 with a likely completion in January 2021.

What is the Police Memorial for exactly?

The memorial will pay tribute to the UK Police Service and will honour the dedication, courage and sacrifice of its members, particularly those who have died whilst carrying out their duties.

Since 1749 more than 4,000 men and women have given their lives to serve and protect our communities. The memorial is a project of major national significance supported by leaders, forces and associations of the Police Service.

How big will it be/what will it look like?

The memorial consists of a 25 metre diameter bund planted with Acer campestre. Within the bund is a 14 metre high brass screen and a number of stone walls where the names of the lives lost are recorded.

Why is this signage being installed in the winter when memorial holders are less likely to see it?
Planning permission for the Police Memorial was granted in March 2019, however funding for the memorial and final permissions have only recently been secured. We felt it would have been premature to announce detail of the preparation works prior to this and have moved swiftly to communicate our plans as soon as the timeline for works was confirmed.