Dredging of Sussex beauty spot reveals D-Day treasure trove

When staff at Wakehurst Place dredged a pond to encourage more wildlife to the site, they only expected to find leaves and silt.

But instead they discovered wartime relics dropped by soldiers based at the site ahead of the D-Day landings.

The historic finds at the gardens in Ardingly, near Haywards Heath, were discovered when work was carried out on the pond.

They are believed to have been thrown or dropped into the water by British and Canadian soldiers stationed at the 16th Century mansion during the Second World War.

Items included tools, cups, a bullet and vehicle battery.

David Marchant, Wakehurst's logistics manager, said he was enthralled to uncover the treasures.

He said: "I'm quite an amateur historian myself so it was very interesting to be there to see these things come out of the water.

"Wakehurst Place was used as a holding base ahead of the D-Day landings. Military vehicles were hidden here under camouflage nets until they were needed and were transported to the coast.

"I have heard the stories about the soldiers being here during the war and sometimes marrying local girls and staying here.

"They had a big influence on the area."

Mr Marchant has a close affinity with Wakehurst Place - he was born there.

His father was appointed head gardener in 1923 and his mother worked as a housemaid in the mansion and it has been his home ever since.

He organises the machinery and operations behind the scenes at the estate.

He said: "We are hoping for somewhere to put them on display, hopefully here at Wakehurst Place. I don't want them to be hidden away where no one can see them.

"It was fascinating to see what turned up and amazing to think that they have lain undisturbed under the water for all that time.

"Thankfully there were no unexploded bombs."

Wakehurst Place is run by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

More than 440,000 people a year flock to tour its stately mansion and immaculately manicured gardens.

Comments (8)

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3:39pm Tue 20 Jan 09

Ronald says...

The moat at Michelham Priory is the same. Before it was dammed it used to dry out in the summer, and all sorts of ordnance and rubbish was to be found.
The moat at Michelham Priory is the same. Before it was dammed it used to dry out in the summer, and all sorts of ordnance and rubbish was to be found. Ronald

3:45pm Tue 20 Jan 09

mr punch says...

It would be great to keep these items at Wakehurst Place rather than move them elsewhere. The story is a bit vague as to how much stuff was uncovered. Come on Sam, there's surely a great story here for a reporter; isn't there?
It would be great to keep these items at Wakehurst Place rather than move them elsewhere. The story is a bit vague as to how much stuff was uncovered. Come on Sam, there's surely a great story here for a reporter; isn't there? mr punch

3:56pm Tue 20 Jan 09

Jim BB says...

I found some Foster's beer cans in Kemp Town today which I'm sure future generations would love to put on display. Who said littering is bad?
I found some Foster's beer cans in Kemp Town today which I'm sure future generations would love to put on display. Who said littering is bad? Jim BB

5:10pm Tue 20 Jan 09

dollymixture says...

Wow Argus cups,Cans a bullet and an old vehicle battery i was expecting to read that they had found a Sherman Tank or at least a couple of Bren guns what a rubbish story...
Wow Argus cups,Cans a bullet and an old vehicle battery i was expecting to read that they had found a Sherman Tank or at least a couple of Bren guns what a rubbish story... dollymixture

5:46pm Tue 20 Jan 09

Conor says...

I hope they track down those responsible and hand out some fixed penalty notices.
I hope they track down those responsible and hand out some fixed penalty notices. Conor

6:19pm Tue 20 Jan 09

alfieconnection says...

i found a skeleton in my cellar with a medal around its neck, it read, "hide and seek champion 1894"
i found a skeleton in my cellar with a medal around its neck, it read, "hide and seek champion 1894" alfieconnection

9:28pm Tue 20 Jan 09

william of orange says...


Wartime relic... in a pond...that'll be a private "pike" then Captain Mainwaring!

Wartime relic... in a pond...that'll be a private "pike" then Captain Mainwaring! william of orange

11:21pm Tue 20 Jan 09

Mr. Kipling says...

Stupid boy

:)
Stupid boy :) Mr. Kipling
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