Contemplation garden in jute baron’s mansion marks Somme death

Allied troops prepare to go over the top at the Battle of the Somme. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Allied troops prepare to go over the top at the Battle of the Somme. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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He was a Scots soldier killed at the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the First World War.

But this week, to mark the centenary of Second Lieutenant Frank Proctor Kyd’s death, a specially
designed contemplation garden will be opened at his family mansion, now a home for veterans of modern-day conflicts.

Rosendael, in Broughty Ferry, was owned by Dundee jute baron John Normansell Kyd, Second Lt Kyd’s cousin.

In 1932, following John Kyd’s death, his sister donated the house and a £10,000 endowment to the Scottish Veterans’ Residences (SVR) to set up a home for veteran soldiers, sailors and airmen.

Second Lt Kyd, who was killed on 18 August, 1916, aged 28, served with the East Surrey Regiment attached to the Warwickshire Regiment. He was buried in Lonsdale cemetery, near Authille on the Somme. On Wednesday the garden will be opened at a ceremony attended by guests including Major-General Mark Strudwick, former head of the army in Scotland and SVR chairman, veterans and family members.

The garden, surrounding an indoor garden room, includes private areas with benches, decking and a pergola.

Susie Hamilton, fundraising and marketing manager for SVR, said: “The centenary was coming up, so we asked residents at the regular residents meeting what they thought would be a lasting memorial which could be used by everyone. We talked about a sculpture or an artwork before settling on a special garden.

“Some of our residents have a range of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. A quiet garden like this, being in nature outdoors, alone or sharing it with support staff or a friend gives a nice, safe, secure space. It gives them a sense of calm, which is really helpful.”

Veteran Steven Millar, 72, who was a signaller with the 19th Field regiment, Royal Artillery, and who lives in Rosendael with his brother, said: “It’s a great idea. We all work together in the garden and you can just sit there enjoying the sun. No one needs to be lonely here, everyone is watching out for them.”

Former army chaplain the Rev Neil Gardner, minister at the Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh’s military church and a member of the SVR board of management, said: “Commemorating the death of Frank Proctor Kyd in this poignant way brings home, literally, the impact on a family of any death as a consequence of war.

“It’s an impact that was felt in countless thousands of homes across Scotland not just during the course of the costly Battle of the Somme but throughout the First World War, and as a result of so many wars and conflicts ever since.”