National Memorial Arboretum Guide: Discover Britain’s Living Tribute to Fallen Heroes

National Memorial Arboretum guide National Memorial Arboretum guide

The National Memorial Arboretum serves as a poignant testament to the bravery and sacrifice of British service personnel. Sprawling over 150 acres in Staffordshire, this living tribute encapsulates the nation’s gratitude and respect for those who have served and fallen. With its lush landscapes and reflective spaces, the arboretum offers a serene environment for remembrance and education, ensuring the memories of heroes are preserved for generations to come.

Visitors can explore the diverse collection of memorials, each with a unique story to tell, amidst the tranquillity of carefully cultivated flora. The arboretum is not only a site of commemoration but also a community hub where veterans, families, and the public gather to honour service and sacrifice. It’s a place where history is both honoured and made, a landscape that grows with the nation’s narrative of remembrance.

Getting There

Embark on a journey to a place where memories live and history speaks.

By Car or Motorcycle

Arriving by car or motorcycle is straightforward. The National Memorial Arboretum is located in the heart of England, accessible via major motorways. Set your destination to Croxall Road, where ample parking awaits, providing convenient access to this sanctuary of solace and respect.

By Train

For those preferring rail travel, the nearby Lichfield Trent Valley station is the gateway to the arboretum. From there, a taxi ride, lasting approximately 50 minutes, brings you directly to the site. Pre-recorded commentary during the ride offers insights into the area’s history, perfect for groups of 10 or 2 adults alike.

By Bus

Local bus services provide an alternative for visitors travelling to the arboretum. Buses run regularly from surrounding towns, dropping passengers a short walk from the entrance. This option allows visitors to enjoy the scenic approach to this place of national pride and reflection.

By Canal Boat

For a more scenic route, consider arriving by canal boat. Glide along the tranquil waterways that intersect the Staffordshire countryside, disembarking near the arboretum for an unconventional yet serene start to your visit.

History and Background

Conceived in the 1990s, the National Memorial Arboretum was established as a living tribute to national and military heroes. Opening its doors in 2001, it has since grown into a cherished site, intertwining nature with remembrance. The arboretum’s dedication to honouring those who have served the nation spans conflicts and services, creating a tapestry of stories etched into the landscape.

Key figures in the arboretum’s inception include Commander David Childs, who envisioned a place where people could reflect on service and sacrifice in a setting of natural beauty. His vision was realised with the support of the British public and organisations, culminating in a dedication ceremony that marked the beginning of the arboretum’s journey.

Significant events in the arboretum’s history include the unveiling of various memorials, each commemorating different facets of service. From World Wars to recent conflicts, these tributes stand as a testament to the bravery and sacrifice of individuals and units alike. The arboretum continues to evolve, with new memorials and features added, ensuring that the legacies of the fallen are eternally preserved.

What to See and Do

Explore a sanctuary where remembrance is woven into the very fabric of nature’s splendour.

Daily Act of Remembrance

At the heart of the National Memorial Arboretum lies the Millennium Chapel, where visitors gather each day for a moving two-minute silence. This daily act of remembrance, observed at 11 a.m., is a powerful communal experience, providing a moment to honour the fallen in a setting of collective reflection and respect.

The chapel’s solemn ambience and the poignant silence unite visitors in a shared act of homage. It is a daily reminder of the cost of freedom and the enduring spirit of those who have served their country with valour and sacrifice.

Living Remembrance Talk

Within the arboretum’s embrace, the Living Remembrance Talk offers an immersive narrative, connecting visitors with the stories behind the memorials. Engage with the legacy of service as expert speakers bring to life the personal and collective journeys of those commemorated here.

These talks provide context and deepen the understanding of the arboretum’s purpose, ensuring that the tales of heroism and the lessons of history are passed on to all who listen.

Guided Walks

Guided walks traverse the lush landscapes of the arboretum, offering visitors an informed exploration of the site’s significant memorials. Led by knowledgeable guides, these walks unveil the stories of bravery and service encapsulated within the arboretum’s grounds.

As you follow the winding paths, you’ll discover the rich tapestry of remembrance that the arboretum weaves, with each step bringing you closer to the heart of the nation’s collective memory.

Far East Prisoners Of War Talk

Delve into the harrowing tales of the Far East prisoners of war with a dedicated talk that sheds light on their suffering and sacrifice. The arboretum honours these individuals with a poignant war memorial, serving as an enduring reminder of the trials faced during World War II.

Through these narratives, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for the resilience and fortitude of those held captive, as well as the broader historical context of the war in the Pacific arena.

Armed Forces Memorial Talk

The Armed Forces Memorial stands as a moving monument, commemorating the lives lost in the service of the nation since the end of the Second World War. This talk explores the symbolism in its design, conveying the profound loss and remembrance it represents.

Shot At Dawn Talk

The Shot At Dawn memorial is a sombre reminder of the soldiers executed for desertion during World War I. This talk explores the complex historical context of these events, offering insights into the personal tragedies that unfolded amidst the chaos of war.

Special Forces Buggy Tour

Embark on a Special Forces buggy tour, departing from the Remembrance Centre, and immerse yourself in an intimate 40-minute journey through the arboretum’s dedicated special forces area. These buggy tours provide a unique perspective on the memorial landscape, allowing visitors to connect with the stories of elite units in a dynamic and engaging way.

Land Train Tours

Embarking on the Land Train Tours at the National Memorial Arboretum offers a comprehensive journey around the site, complete with pre-recorded commentary to enrich the experience. Suitable for 2 adults or larger groups of 10, the tour allows visitors to explore the grounds comfortably, delving into the stories behind the memorials from the convenience of a seated ride.

Tips for Making the Most of the Visit

Maximize your visit to the National Memorial Arboretum by planning, dressing appropriately for the weather, and bringing along essentials such as water and a camera to capture the serene beauty of this sombre yet uplifting place.

Plan Your Route Using the Site Map

To ensure you don’t miss any key features, it’s advisable to plan your route using the site map available at the Arboretum. Not only does it guide you to the major memorials, but it also highlights less well-known points of interest, like the intricate polar bear sculpture that captivates both young and old.

With the map in hand, you can create a personalized itinerary that covers everything from the Armed Forces Memorial to the tucked-away corners of the Arboretum, allowing for an immersive and fulfilling visit.

Attend Daily Guided Walks or Tours

For those eager to delve deeper into the Arboretum’s history, attending the daily guided walks is a must. Led by knowledgeable guides, these walks bring to life the fascinating stories behind the memorials and the individuals they honour. It’s an opportunity to learn and reflect, surrounded by the tranquillity of nature.

These guided walks are tailored to engage visitors, providing insights and anecdotes that go beyond the plaques and statues, forming a meaningful connection with the Arboretum’s solemn history and its ongoing legacy.

Pack a Picnic Lunch

Embrace the peaceful surroundings of the Arboretum by packing a picnic lunch to enjoy amidst the lush greenery. Numerous benches and designated picnic areas are available, offering a moment of respite where visitors can reflect while surrounded by the beauty of the memorials.

Whether you’re visiting with family or seeking solitude, a picnic allows for a personal and relaxed experience. Just remember to leave no trace behind, respecting the sanctity of this hallowed ground.

Visit the Exhibition Galleries and Interactive Displays

The exhibition galleries at the National Memorial Arboretum provide a poignant look into the sacrifices made by the armed forces. Interactive displays offer an engaging way to understand the stories and significance behind the memorials, ensuring visitors of all ages leave with a deeper appreciation of the grounds.

From personal letters to artefacts of historical importance, the galleries offer a tangible connection to the past, making the experience at the Arboretum not just a visual journey but an educational one as well.

Explore the Children’s Sculpture Trail

Young visitors will be delighted by the Children’s Sculpture Trail, which weaves through the Arboretum. It’s a fantastic way for children to engage with the environment and learn about remembrance through interactive play and discovery.

The trail features a series of imaginative sculptures, each with its own story, allowing families to explore the meaning of the Arboretum together. It’s an experience that educates while also providing joy and wonder for the little ones.

Pay Respect at Significant Memorials

As you wander the grounds of the National Memorial Arboretum, take time to pay respects to the significant memorials that dot the landscape. Each one commemorates the bravery and sacrifice of those who served their country, offering a space for contemplation and honour.

Whether you’re visiting a specific memorial or discovering them as you go, each offers a unique story and a chance to reflect on the values they represent: courage, service, and remembrance.

Use the Free Audio Tours on the Mobile App

The National Memorial Arboretum’s mobile app enhances the visitor experience with free audio tours. These tours provide a self-guided option, allowing you to explore at your own pace while listening to detailed narratives about the memorials and their significance.

With the app, you can delve into the rich tapestry of stories that the Arboretum holds, giving you the flexibility to pause and resume as you wish, ensuring you don’t miss a thing during your visit.

Visit the Gift Shop and Café

Conclude your visit at the National Memorial Arboretum by stopping by the gift shop and café. The gift shop offers a range of memorabilia, from poppy pins to books, allowing you to take home a memento of your visit. Meanwhile, the café serves hot and cold refreshments, providing the perfect spot to relax and reflect on your experience.

Practical Information

Before visiting the National Memorial Arboretum, it’s essential to note the importance of the Armed Forces Memorial. It’s a centrepiece of reflection and a must-see for all visitors. For those seeking a more personal journey, tailor-made tours are available by contacting the Arboretum directly on 01283 245 100.

Opening Hours

The Arboretum welcomes visitors throughout the year, but it’s crucial to check the latest opening hours as they can vary seasonally. Some events and exhibitions may need to be booked in advance, so it’s best to plan to ensure access to all the Arboretum has to offer.

Entry Fees

Entry to the National Memorial Arboretum is generally free, but there may be charges for certain events or activities. Donations are welcomed and greatly appreciated to support the ongoing maintenance and development of this significant site.

Best Times to Visit

The Arboretum is a place of beauty year-round, but visiting during spring or autumn can be particularly rewarding when the landscape is at its most vibrant. To make the most of your visit, aim to arrive early and participate in the daily activities that illuminate the site’s history and significance.

Facilities Available

Visitors to the National Memorial Arboretum have access to a range of facilities, including ample parking, restrooms, baby changing areas, and provision for assistance dogs, ensuring a comfortable experience for all.


Visitors to the National Memorial Arboretum will find ample parking available on-site. The parking area is designed to accommodate a large number of vehicles, ensuring that guests can easily access the grounds. Parking is free for those attending a service or volunteering, while a modest fee is charged for other visitors. This fee goes towards the maintenance of the Arboretum, ensuring that it remains a fitting tribute to our heroes.


The National Memorial Arboretum provides several restroom facilities throughout the site for the convenience of visitors. These are well-maintained and accessible to guests with disabilities. Located near the Remembrance Centre and other strategic points, the restrooms are regularly cleaned and stocked with essential supplies, reflecting the Arboretum’s commitment to a comfortable visitor experience.

Baby Changing Facilities

For those visiting with infants, baby changing facilities are available within the restrooms. These dedicated spaces offer privacy and convenience, ensuring that even the youngest visitors are catered for. The clean and safe environment allows parents and guardians to take care of their children’s needs with ease, contributing to a stress-free visit for the entire family.

Assistance Dogs

The National Memorial Arboretum warmly welcomes assistance dogs, recognising their essential role in supporting many visitors. Owners are asked to ensure that their dogs are clearly identifiable as assistance animals, either by a harness, vest, or identification card. This helps staff and other visitors to understand their special status and ensures that the Arboretum remains accessible to all.

Safety and Etiquette

Visitors are reminded to adhere to safety protocols and maintain a respectful demeanour throughout their time at the Arboretum, ensuring a serene and dignified atmosphere for remembrance.

Maintain Respectful Noise Levels

In the spirit of reflection and respect, visitors are asked to maintain low noise levels, particularly near the Millennium Chapel and during the Daily Act of Remembrance. This allows all guests to partake in moments of contemplation and ensures that ceremonies and talks can be conducted without interruption. By being mindful of our surroundings, we honour those commemorated here.

Stay on Designated Paths

The Arboretum’s layout is carefully designed to protect its plantings and memorials. Visitors are encouraged to stay on the designated paths to safeguard the living remembrance found here. This not only preserves the natural beauty of the grounds but also ensures the safety of all guests exploring the vast array of memorials and exhibits.

Supervise Children

While the Arboretum is a place for visitors of all ages, children must be supervised at all times. This ensures their safety and maintains the site’s tranquillity. Interactive elements and the Children’s Sculpture Trail are specifically designed to engage young minds, making the experience educational and respectful for the entire family.

No Littering or Leaving Items

To maintain the pristine condition of the Arboretum, littering is strictly prohibited. Visitors are expected to dispose of rubbish responsibly in the provided bins. Leaving items or mementoes at memorials is also not permitted without prior arrangement, as it disrupts the careful balance of the living landscape and the solemnity of the memorials.

Dress Respectfully

As a place of remembrance, appropriate attire is expected. Visitors should dress in a manner that is respectful to the memory of those honoured at the Arboretum. This includes avoiding clothing with offensive imagery or text, which could detract from the dignity of this hallowed space.

Follow Staff Instructions and Signage

Staff members are present to assist and ensure the smooth operation of the Arboretum. Visitors are required to follow their instructions and heed the signage around the site. This includes directional signs and rules regarding specific areas, helping to preserve the serene atmosphere and orderliness of the grounds.


For refreshments, the Arboretum offers on-site dining options that serve a variety of meals and beverages, catering to different tastes and dietary requirements.


The on-site restaurant provides a comfortable setting for visitors to enjoy a meal. With a menu featuring locally sourced ingredients, it offers a range of hot and cold options, including seasonal specials. Large windows afford diners views of the picturesque landscape, enhancing the dining experience amidst the Arboretum’s peaceful surroundings.

Coffee Shop

For a quick snack or a warm cup of coffee, the Arboretum’s coffee shop is the perfect stop. Offering a selection of pastries, sandwiches, and refreshments, it’s an ideal place to rest and recharge during your visit. With comfortable seating and a relaxed atmosphere, the coffee shop is a welcoming space for all guests.


For extended visits, there are several comfortable accommodation options nearby, ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly inns, ensuring a restful stay for all visitors.

Hilton at St George’s Park, Burton Upon Trent

Nestled in the serene Staffordshire countryside, the Hilton at St George’s Park offers a luxurious retreat for visitors to the National Memorial Arboretum. As the official hotel of the English Football Association, this establishment boasts top-notch facilities, including a health club, spa, and dining options to cater to every taste. Its proximity to the Arboretum ensures guests can immerse themselves in remembrance and then retreat to the comfort of their well-appointed rooms.

Hoar Cross Hall Hotel And Spa

Hoar Cross Hall Hotel and Spa is a magnificent Grade II listed stately home, providing an opulent stay for those visiting the National Memorial Arboretum. The hotel offers a blend of historic grandeur and modern luxury, featuring a state-of-the-art spa, beautiful gardens, and fine dining. It’s an ideal choice for visitors seeking tranquillity and pampering after a day of reflection and exploration at the nearby Arboretum.

Premier Inn Lichfield City Centre Hotel

The Premier Inn Lichfield City Centre Hotel delivers comfort and convenience to those exploring the National Memorial Arboretum. With its central location, guests have easy access to local amenities and are just a short drive from the Arboretum. The hotel promises a good night’s sleep with its signature Hypnos beds and a hearty breakfast to start the day, ensuring visitors are well-rested and ready to pay their respects.

Travelodge Tamworth M42

For practicality and value, the Travelodge Tamworth M42 is a solid choice for visitors to the National Memorial Arboretum. Positioned close to the M42 motorway, the hotel offers straightforward access to the site of remembrance. Accommodations are comfortable and budget-friendly, making them suitable for families and travellers mindful of their expenses, without compromising on the ease of visiting the Arboretum.

Nearby Attractions

While visiting the National Memorial Arboretum, the surrounding area boasts a variety of attractions that offer enriching experiences for all ages.

Lichfield Cathedral and the City Dungeons

Lichfield Cathedral, an architectural marvel, stands as a testament to medieval craftsmanship. Visitors can explore its storied history and stunning features, such as the three spires, known as the ‘Ladies of the Vale’. Nearby, the City Dungeons offer a glimpse into Lichfield’s darker past, providing an intriguing contrast to the day’s reflective Arboretum visit.

Ashby Canal

A stroll or boat ride along the tranquil Ashby Canal can be the perfect way to unwind. The canal’s gentle waters and picturesque scenery offer a serene backdrop for reflection or a peaceful escape. Along its banks, visitors can discover charming pubs and quaint villages, encapsulating the quintessential English countryside experience.

Moira Furnace Museum

The Moira Furnace Museum presents a fascinating journey into the industrial heritage of the Midlands. This preserved blast furnace from the 19th century offers insights into the lives of the workers and the iron-making process. The museum’s green surroundings and proximity to the National Forest make it a worthwhile detour for those with a penchant for history and nature.

Alton Towers Waterpark

Families visiting the National Memorial Arboretum can add a splash of excitement to their trip with a visit to Alton Towers Waterpark. The waterpark promises a fun-filled day with slides, a lazy river, and various water-based activities suitable for all ages, providing a joyful counterbalance to the solemnity of the Arboretum.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the National Arboretum?

The National Memorial Arboretum serves as a living tribute to honour the memory of those who have served and sacrificed for their country. It is a place of reflection and learning, where visitors can engage with the stories of heroes and connect with the natural beauty that surrounds the memorials.

How much is the train at the National Arboretum?

The Land Train at the National Memorial Arboretum provides an engaging tour of the grounds. Tickets for the train must be purchased in advance to guarantee entry. Prices vary, and it’s recommended to check the latest information on the Arboretum’s website to plan your visit accordingly.

How long do you need at the National Arboretum?

A visit to the National Memorial Arboretum can vary in length, but to truly appreciate the site, a few hours are recommended. Visitors can use the map of the arboretum to strategize their route, ensuring they witness key memorials and participate in activities that resonate with their interests.


The National Memorial Arboretum stands as a poignant symbol of remembrance and a serene sanctuary for reflection. With over 400 memorials nestled within its verdant landscape, the site pays homage to the valiant individuals who have served and sacrificed for their country. It offers visitors a unique opportunity to connect with history, honour the fallen, and appreciate the tranquillity of nature all at once.

Whether you’re seeking a contemplative space to remember loved ones, a chance to learn about Britain’s military heritage, or simply a peaceful day out in the countryside, the National Memorial Arboretum caters to all. It’s a place where personal and national stories intertwine, creating an enduring legacy that will continue to resonate with future generations.

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