A meadow on the iconic White Cliffs of Dover that was saved for the nation by the National Trust has been renamed in memory of Dame Vera Lynn to mark the anniversary of her death.
The Trust, which bought the land in 2017, unveiled the newly-named ‘Dame Vera Lynn Down’ at a ceremony this weekend to pay tribute to the wartime singer and her enduring connection with the landscape. A footpath leading to the clifftops was also renamed in her honour by Dover District Council.
Long associated with the chalk cliffs, Dame Vera Lynn’s famous songs gave hope to a country at war, with lyrics including ‘there’ll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover’ and ‘the valley will bloom again’.
In 2017, she lent her support to a £1million fundraising campaign by the National Trust to buy 178 acres of arable land on the clifftops.
The wheat field, which was part of the purchase, is now being returned to its original grassland state and is already filled with wildflowers, including ox-eye daisy, wild carrot and viper’s bugloss, and attracting corn buntings and skylarks, the nation’s songbird.
Dover District Council meanwhile has renamed the footpath leading from the seafront to the White Cliffs as ‘Dame Vera Lynn Way’ with a new sign featuring the opening line of her famous song, “There’ll be bluebirds over, The White Cliffs of Dover, Tomorrow, Just you wait and see.”
Virginia Lewis-Jones, Dame Vera’s daughter, said:
Ginny Portman, General Manager at the National Trust, said:
Cllr Trevor Bartlett, the Leader of Dover District Council, said:
The Trust and Council further marked the anniversary with a special switching-on of the South Foreland Lighthouse, which has been lit only three times in 33 years.
The Victorian lighthouse was the first to use an electric light and was designed to warn mariners of shifting sands and guide them into the Strait of Dover. It was decommissioned in 1988 but was lit on earlier this year (17th June), with special permission from the Trinity House Lighthouse Authority and HM Coastguard, in honour of Dame Vera Lynn.
The beam of light was switched on at dusk by her daughter, Virginia Lewis-Jones, and shone over the English Channel throughout the night. It was the first time the lighthouse has been lit since 2018, when it was reactivated to mark the First World War Centenary.
Photo courtesy of National Trust / Arnhel de Serra