Posted by: michaeldaybath | August 2, 2014

The war memorial heritage of the First World War

I cannot but dread the wave of war-memorials in churches which we must expect after the war. The motives of such memorials will be excellent; but will our venerable old churches be really the better in result or the worse? The age we live in is not one when taste in decoration is common. Of course we cannot expect the Chancellor, in granting Faculties, to go into questions of art. But I hope to get some diocesan committee to work, with some men on it who will command respect, to advise all who will seek their advice about war memorials. Meanwhile I would earnestly ask any clergy in doubt about the suitableness of any proposed memorial to consult me. I may even now be able to help them to competent advice. — Charles Gore, Bishop of Oxford, April 1916 [1]

Already up and down the country memorials of one sort or another have been erected in memory of our brothers and sisters who have fallen in the war. They take various forms, and the spirit that has prompted their erection is a noble and intensely human one. There is some danger, however, not that the thing will be overdone, but that it will be so badly done as to over-shoot its mark, and make our war memorials [a] matter for derision instead of an incitement to high endeavour. The recent suggestion that a war shrine should be placed in Hyde Park, for instance, was greeted with approval; but now that the nature of the so-called shrine is known, approval may be turned into consternation. The shrine, we are told, is to be 70ft. long. Surely this is an attempt to imitate the debased modern art of Germany, with its love of the “kolossal.” Mere bigness is surely the last thing wanted in a war memorial of any sort. The best memorial is the creation of endowment of some charitable work, for that typifies the sacrifice for humanity made by the men and women who have fallen in the war; but that is not enough, because the human spirit craves something more objective and more personal. Just as the devout soul is not content with giving to the poor who are always with us, but would fain empty its alabaster box of ointment on its Master’s feet, so we long to show our admiration for the fallen by something whose very uselessness, as it were, makes it peculiarly a tribute to their worth. For that very reason, the simpler the memorial is the better. A wayside cross, a tablet in a wall — these things speak more eloquently to us of our dead than storied urn or animated bust can do. This 70ft. shrine in Hyde Park, with its pylon at either end, surmounted by a large cone, and a stone in the middle on which flowers may be laid — surely that is not a memorial but a monstrosity! And it is not even to be of marble, but only of plaster. Is our art so dead that this is the best it can achieve?Yorkshire Evening Post, 4 September 1918 [2]

Welsh National Memorial (Sir Ninian Comper), Cardiff

Welsh National Memorial (Sir Ninian Comper), Cardiff

Conservation and commemoration: a study day exploring the significance and stewardship of the architectural and memorial legacy of the First World War, London, 19 June 2014

On the 19th June 2014, I attended a study day on the architectural and memorial legacy of the First World War organised by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) [3], the War Memorials Trust [4], and ChurchCare (the Church of England’s support organisation for cathedral and church buildings) [5]. As with many other events being held this year, the immediate context of the study day was the centenary of the start of the war, which has prompted a large number of other First World War- themed events, books, and exhibitions this year. As the contemporary reports quoted above demonstrate, the form and aesthetics of First World War memorials courted controversy from the very start, both within churches and outside.

Around 40 to 50 people attended the study day, a mixed group representing professionals (e.g. architects, conservation specialists), advisory bodies (e.g. members of Diocesan Advisory Committees), and interested lay observers (including myself). The event started with a welcome from Maggie Goodall of SPAB, followed by a short introduction to the study day from the chair, Daniel Knight of ChurchCare.

Keynote: the architectural legacy of the First World War

An initial ‘keynote’ presentation on the Architectural Legacy of the First World War was given by the architectural historian and writer Gavin Stamp, who is also a trustee of the War Memorials Trust. Stamp started by observing that a full-treatment of the war’s architectural legacy would need to acknowledge the reality of cultural destruction – citing the well-known cases of Rheims and Ypres – as well as artistic reactions to the war like modernism. The bulk of the presentation itself, however, focused on the vast number of monuments built after the war to honour the very many people that had died. Recognising that the First World War had something of the nature of a continental civil war, Stamp deliberately provided an international survey, aiming to demonstrate how different nations and cultures had responded to the need for remembrance.

Stamp’s survey started with Britain, noting the influence in many places of the “secular quality and non-triumphalist tone” of the cemeteries and memorials produced by the Imperial War Graves Commission (since 1960 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission). What impressed most from the survey was the sheer number of memorials in Britain (Stamp commented that the 1920s were probably a good time to be an architect or stone mason) and the many different forms that they took. Many memorials were intended to be functional, including village halls, hospitals (e.g. the Star and Garter Home, Richmond), extensions to schools and colleges (e.g. the Memorial Court at Clare College, Cambridge and the Memorial Chapel at Charterhouse, both designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott; the War Cloister at Winchester College, designed by Sir Herbert Baker), and at least one art gallery (Stockport). Symbolic memorials could be religious (many took the form of crosses) or secular (obelisks); they could be architecturally grand (e.g. municipal memorials at Glasgow, Nottingham, and Leicester) or – on occasion – revolting (the example given was the Waggoners Memorial, Sledmere, East Riding of Yorkshire).

Ploegsteert Memorial

Pleogsteert Memorial (Sir Harold Chalton Bradshaw), Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium

Stamp commented that it was impossible to generalise about style, although the “abstracted classicism” promulgated by the Imperial War Graves Commission and its architects (which included Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Reginald Blomfield and Sir Herbert Baker) had been influential. National memorials included the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh by Sir Robert Lorimer (arts-and-crafts gothic), the Cenotaph in Whitehall by Lutyens (originally designed as a temporary structure), the Welsh National War Memorial in Cardiff by Sir Ninian Comper (a circular colonnade with statues, characterised rather unkindly by Stamp as “Pearl and Dean architecture”), and Phoenix Park in Dublin (also by Lutyens). Memorials to those that had died at sea included memorials for the Royal Navy at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham (obelisks with nautical decoration, designed by Lorimer) and the Tower Hill Memorial for merchant seamen (by Lutyens).

Other British (and Empire) memorials can be found abroad, in particular the memorials to the missing looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). The first to be dedicated (1927) was Blomfield’s Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing at Ypres (Ieper) in Belgium, described by Stamp as a “noble and powerful structure,” on which are inscribed over fifty thousand names, those who died in the Ypres Salient and whose graves are not known (another thirty-five thousand names can be found on another memorial at the nearby Tyne Cot Cemetery, designed by Baker). Other memorials to the missing can be found all along the Western Front, including those at Vis-en-Artois and Le Touret (designed by J. R. Truelove), Louverval and Ploegsteert (by H. Chalton Bradshaw), and Arras (by Lutyens). Above all, there is Lutyens’s masterpiece, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme at Thiepval, a sophisticated memorial that Stamp said plays with the geometry of the arch form [6]. Stamp also directed our attention to corresponding CWGC memorials in Italy and Macedonia (by Lorimer) and Jerusalem (Sir John Burnet), although there are many others.

Royal Artillery Memorial

Royal Artillery Memorial, Hyde Park Corner, London (Charles Sargeant Jagger)

Stamp commented that relatively few CWGC cemeteries and memorials featured prominent sculpture, although he highlighted Eric Kennington’s “stiff soldiers” on the memorial at Soissons. A brief survey of war memorials with sculpture followed, which included the well-known Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner (by Charles Sargeant Jagger), the Liverpool Cenotaph (Herbert Tyson Smith), the National War Memorial of Canada in Ottawa (“The Response,” by Vernon March), the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France (an expressionist monument, by Walter Seymour Allward), the ANZAC War Memorial in Sydney (with sculpture by Rayner Hoff), an intriguing French Memorial at the Butte de Chaumont (Paul Landowski), and the extremely moving sculptures by Käthe Kollwitz at Vladslo German war cemetery in Belgium (The Grieving Parents) and at Schinkel’s Neue Wache in Berlin (Mother with her Dead Son).

Stamp then gave a quick overview of war memorial traditions in other countries. For Germany, he highlighted the memorial at Düsseldorf, the Bavarian War Memorial in Munich (a bunker/crypt containing the effigy of a sleeping soldier), the Tannenberg-Denkmal (a huge, since-destroyed, monument in East Prussia – now Poland – built to resemble the castles of the Teutonic Knights), and the work of Robert Tischler for the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (VDK), e.g. at Langemark German war cemetery in Belgium. The French response was quite different, Stamp thinking that the scale of their loss perhaps meant that they did not know what to do [7]. Examples of French memorials included the French National War Cemetery at Notre Dame de Lorette (with a basilica designed by Louis-Marie Cordonnier), the “vaguely art deco” ossuary at Douaumont (Verdun), and the “extraordinary” monument Aux Morts des Armées de Champagne. The United States built vast classically-inspired monuments in France like the Château-Thierry American Monument and the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial. Stamp noted that perhaps the least well known national memorials were the Italian ones, especially the Mussolini-era battlefield memorials in the Alps, some of which are vast complexes with ossuaries and memorial ways. These include the intriguing sacrario militare di Redipuglia (incorporating a series of steps), the mountain-top sacrario militare del Monte Grappa (both designed by Giovanni Greppi and Giannino Castiglioni), and the sacrario di Oslavia near Gorizia. Returning to the Commonwealth nations, Stamp ended his survey with the mention of: Australian memorials in Melbourne (the Shrine of Remembrance, by Hudson and Wardrop, based on the Tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus) and Villers Bretonneux (by Lutyens), New Zealand’s battlefield memorials (e.g. at Messines Ridge and Polygon Wood, by Holden), the Delville Wood South African National Memorial (by Baker), and the very distinctive Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial (also by Baker).

Turning to the Second World War, Stamp commented that the British response was usually just to provide some additional dates. There certainly was nothing like the vast memorials built by the Soviet Union in the east, e.g. in the Treptower Park in Berlin. The IWGC mostly continued in the broad idiom developed by Lutyens (e.g. La Delivrande War Cemetery in Normandy, by Philip Hepworth), with the odd exception e.g. the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede (by Sir Edward Maufe).

The Cenotaph (Sir Edwin Lutyens), Whitehall, London

The Cenotaph (Sir Edwin Lutyens), Whitehall, London

Stamp ended his presentation by mentioning the puzzling flood of new memorials built since the 1990s, which he considered superfluous, “as we have the Cenotaph.” He singled out for criticism two relatively recent memorials in London: the Animals in War Memorial in Hyde Park (by David Backhouse), for its sentiment (“They had no choice” – neither did most soldiers!), and the RAF Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park (by Liam O’Connor), for its “rather bad classicism.”

A SPAB perspective

The keynote was followed by a presentation by Maggie Goodall on “The Architectural Legacy of the First World War – a SPAB Perspective” [8]. She started with some observations on the legacy of the war on architecture, on war damage and the challenge of ‘reconstruction,’ on the loss of skills, and the development of new building techniques designed to meet the needs of a post-war society. Goodall then briefly explained the origins of the Society and its philosophy (a manifesto written by William Morris in 1877), namely its promotion of protection instead of “restoration,” and its support for the careful on-going stewardship of buildings, e.g. to “stave off decay by daily care.” The cultural destruction occasioned by the war – e.g. at Louvain, Rheims and Ypres in 1914 – had come as a huge shock, as had destruction in the UK from coastal bombardment and zeppelin raids. Goodall commented that several SPAB members had served during the war, noting by way of example that Clough Williams-Ellis (of Portmeirion fame) had been an officer in the Welsh Guards [9]. She also quoted some lines from Edward Thomas’s war diary, which sensitively noted architectural destruction in the Arras area before his death in April 1917 [10].

The question of whether to reconstruct buildings after damage or destruction in war was a topic of major interest to SPAB, one that had already begun to be discussed during the war itself (also evidenced by the debates on the rebuilding of Ypres after it). The death and destruction of war also resulted in the loss of traditional craft and building skills, one which happened to coincide with the development of new construction techniques (a shift from solid wall construction to “double-skin cavity wall building”) aimed at fulfilling the post-war demand for new homes. SPAB had anticipated the need for new housing at the end of the war and published advice on how old cottages could be saved and made habitable rather than demolished to make way for new buildings [11]. On war memorials, Goodall pointed out that SPAB had campaigned to save the Old Town Hall in Faringdon, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) and had helped secure its use as the town’s war memorial. While they had no formal advisory role, SPAB were often asked for support from those objecting to particular war memorials, e.g. in Winchester where proposals for both the Hampshire County war memorial (in the Cathedral Close) and the War Memorial Cloister at Winchester College entailed the demolition of older buildings. Another point of contention was at Norwich Cathedral, where SPAB unsuccessfully opposed the building of a new regimental chapel for the Norfolk Regiment (St. Saviour’s Chapel, designed by Sir Charles Nicholson) on the Norman foundations of its predecessor [12]. In her survey – which also considered the Second World War, when SPAB was a member of the War Memorial Advisory Council – Goodall made good use of the Society’s archive file on war memorials and its annual reports.

War memorials in England

Roger Bowdler of English Heritage then provided a quick overview of war memorials in England, starting with the interesting observation that we still did not really know how many memorials there were (there are probably around 50,000, but we are “still at the stage of discovery”). He also made the obvious point that most memorials were grounded in localities, representing largely personal responses to what had become a world tragedy.

Crimean War Memorial, Bath

The Crimean War Memorial in the Abbey Cemetery in Bath, Somerset

Bowdler started by providing some useful examples of war memorials and cemeteries from the century before the First World War, noting that at least some of them did strive to treat the dead in a (relatively) equal manner, regardless of rank of class. These included a memorial plaque from the German Wars of Liberation in Cottbus (Brandenburg), the American Civil War cemetery at Andersonville, Georgia, and the Crimean War memorial at Bath. In Britain, the South African War (Second Boer War) provided an impetus for a new wave of memorials, which often celebrated the exploits of local volunteers or regimental units. Bowdler noted that, in their diversity, First World War memorials reflected both an older tradition of celebrating heroic figures in war (e.g., the statue of Albert Ball VC in Nottingham) as well as a new search for ways to represent the death of thousands (e.g., Jagger’s Royal Artillery Memorial) or the involvement of civilians (e.g. the Liverpool Cenotaph).

Prudential Assurance War Memorial

Prudential Assurance War Memorial (F. V. Blundstone), High Holborn, London

The main part of Bowdler’s review explored the many different types of memorials that exist, making the obvious point that many places had multiple memorials, both commemorative and practical (e.g., recreation grounds, memorial halls, etc.). Many memorials took the form of crosses, reflecting the continuing power of the Christian tradition. Celtic crosses seemed to be particularly popular, but other types of cross included the adapted Eleanor Cross at Sledmore, East Yorkshire (originally by Temple Moore). Other memorials took the form of cenotaphs, classical in form but the empty tomb symbolism also reflecting Christian tradition in the hope of the resurrection. Memorials with sculpture often included representations of soldiers, Bowdler noting that these were typically “reportage, not abstraction.” Prominent examples cited included the grenade-throwing infantryman at Bridgnorth, Shropshire and the “Returning Soldier” at Cambridge [13]. Memorial sculpture also included more abstract themes like St George and the Dragon or the representation of winged figures – sometimes a Christian angel, perhaps more often Nike the goddess of victory (there were also F. V. Blundstone’s winged figures on the Prudential Assurance memorial in London and the Tyne Cot Memorial). Bowdler also highlighted some unusual memorials, for example a memorial at Limehouse that incorporated a relief of a shell-blasted dugout, the Waggoners Memorial at Sledmore (“exceptional in its depiction of hatred”), a Cornish memorial at Lelant that took the form of a dolmen, and an assemblage of undressed stone in Hartington, Derbyshire. Other memorials were intended to have a mainly practical use, Bowdler (like Stamp) noting the Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery, which had been listed by English Heritage only relatively recently (2007, Grade II*). Landscape memorials took various forms, including a large chalk cross cut on the Pilgrim’s Way (near Lenham, Kent) and the Promenade de Verdun at Purley.  The presentation ended with some observations on the importance of maintaining these memorials, noting that grants were currently available (as well as significant interest from government) and that English Heritage was aiming to list up to 2,500 additional memorials. Bowdler also promoted an exhibition on the memorials maintained by English Heritage (which includes the Cenotaph and the Royal Artillery Memorial), at the Quadriga Gallery at Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, London from the 16 July to 30 November 2014) [14].

War memorials in local context

After lunch, Dr Kate Tiller of the University of Oxford, gave a presentation that focused less on the architectural form of memorials but on their local context. This explored some of the themes covered in her recent publication on war memorials and local history [15]. Unlike the morning presentations, Tiller’s talk was less concerned with architectural form or aesthetics, but instead focused on the social role of memorials, above all on the multiple factors that determined how localities chose to memorialise what had become a global war. The lack of any central co-ordinating body meant that the committees responsible for creating war memorials all had important choices to make about memorial type, location (e.g., inside or outside the church building), the wording of inscriptions, and the ordering and format of names. In addition, there was no comprehensive list of casualties, so local committees also had to make decisions on which names would be included on the memorial, which in practice would often take into account a much wider range of criteria than simple residence.

Maiwand Lion Memorial, Reading

Maiwand Lion Memorial, Reading

Tiller also traced the memorialisation of war in the pre-war era, noting a shift from the commemoration of high-status individuals (e.g. through monuments erected in churches and cathedrals) to a more “democratic” focus on collective public remembrance, e.g. memorials that marked the exploits of locally-recruited units or volunteers. For example, the Maiwand Lion in Reading commemorates the men of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment of Foot that died in the Second Afghan War of 1880, listing all casualties by name. The large-scale shift to collective remembrance by the end of the century, however, is perhaps best demonstrated by the many memorials erected after the Second Boer War, a conflict in which local yeomanry regiments and other volunteers played a full part. Some of the memorials established after civilian disasters reflected many of the same values; Tiller’s examples included the memorials erected after lifeboat disasters at Margate, Kent (1897) and Aldeburgh, Suffolk (1899), and the pit disaster at Abram, Lancashire (1908).

All of this provided a context and pattern for memorialisation after the outbreak of the First World War. A significant decision was the one taken not to repatriate the bodies of the dead, meaning that memorials often represented the main local focus of remembrance. Even during the war itself, memorials began to emerge in a variety of forms (e.g. rolls of honour, war shrines), which in churches could then become the focus of daily prayers, memorial services, or other forms of liturgy. Church leaders were not always sure where this wave of memorialisation would lead, the Bishop of Oxford (Charles Gore) writing in 1916, “I cannot but dread the wave of war-memorials in churches which we must expect after the war;” setting up a diocesan committee to provide advice to church authorities [16].

Horner Memorial, Mells

Memorial for Edward Horner (base by Lutyens; sculpture by Alfred Munnings), Church of St Andrew, Mells, Somerset

Tiller illustrated her talk with a number of examples, many of them from Oxfordshire or East Anglia. One case study that she used to illustrate her wider point was the significant cluster of memorials in St Andrew’s Church in Mells, Somerset. The church contains memorials to two high-status individuals that lived nearby (Mells Manor). Firstly, Lieutenant Raymond Asquith, the son of H. H. Asquith the Prime Minister, who has a bronze wreath (designed by Lutyens) and inscription (by Eric Gill) on the south wall of the tower. Secondly, Lieutenant Edward Horner (Asquith’s brother-in-law) has an impressive equestrian statue in bronze by Sir Alfred Munnings placed on a plinth designed by Lutyens (that also incorporates his battlefield cross). There are also memorial tablets for two local members of the North Somerset Yeomanry that died near Ypres on the same day in May 1915, Captain Geoffrey Bates and Corporal Arthur Long. The main war memorial tablet is in stone and lists all casualties in alphabetical order, as does the lacquered-brass plate memorial that was moved here after the church at nearby Vobster was declared redundant in the 1980s. In the churchyard are buried some of those who survived the war, including Asquith’s widow Katharine (who died in 1976) and the poet Siegfried Sassoon. There is yet another, Lutyens-designed, war memorial in the village itself, the names again listed in alphabetical order. Mells is exceptional – not least because Lutyens was a personal friend of the Horners – but it does perhaps hint at some of the complexity that church and parish authorities had to deal with when it came to making decisions about war memorials (and represents a challenge to the researchers of war memorials).

Perspectives from the War Memorials Trust and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The day concluded with two presentations on the work of the War Memorials Trust and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In the first, Amy Davidson provided an introduction to the War Memorials Trust and its work supporting the protection and conservation of memorials. The Trust is a relatively small organisation and it has to cope with both the large number of  memorials that exist and the wide-variety of memorial-types (and thus materials) that come within scope. They also represent a significant ownership challenge, as many memorials were originally established by local committees and funded by public subscription, meaning that it can sometimes be difficult now to identify a legal owner. The War Memorials Act, 1923 permits local authorities to undertake repairs, although this is not an obligation. Davidson explored some of the main threats to memorials, which include obvious ones like theft and vandalism as well as some that may be less easy to see, e.g. changes in building use or business reorganisation (e.g. for industrial memorials).  She also outlined some of the key condition problems that the Trust had encountered, which included structural problems – which were actually not that common – and specific issues with mortar joints and deposits (including metal staining). The Trust were a conservation charity, and supported the principles of minimal intervention and the use of the same materials for repairs (wherever possible). Inscriptions were a particular challenge, as their legibility is central to the purpose of memorials; re-cutting can only take place a finite number of times before more substantial intervention would be required. All cleaning was abrasive, and therefore needed to be undertaken with extreme care; the Trust’s advice was to do the minimum, although advice would need to take account of specific damage or any obscuring of the inscriptions. Davidson finished her presentation by noting some of the other ways the Trust was supporting the preservation of memorials, which included War Memorials Online (a collaboration with English Heritage), which was working with volunteers to generate an annotated database of UK memorials, recording their current condition.

Caroline Churchill then provided an introduction to the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission [17]. Their work had been referred to throughout the day by several of the speakers, so it was interesting to finish the day with a more detailed consideration of the Commission’s origins and guiding principles. Churchill explained the origins of the Commission during the war, noting the significance of Sir Fabian Ware, its founder and first Vice-Chairman, as well as the important roles played in its early history by General Sir Nevil Macready and Sir Frederick Kenyon. The guiding principle of the Commission from the very start was that of “equality of treatment,” demonstrated in physical form through the many war cemeteries and memorials for which it remains responsible worldwide. Architecturally, the commission developed a consistent “house style,” with standard-sized headstones and regular features, including the Cross of Sacrifice (by Baker) and  Stone of Remembrance (Lutyens) in the larger cemeteries. The main role of the Commission today was maintenance, of both fabric and horticulture. In total, it is responsible for around 940,000 identified burials, 212,000 unidentified burials, and for the names of 760,000 inscribed on various memorials to the missing. In terms of maintenance, and following its Royal Charter, the main focus of the Commission has been on retaining the legibility of names. It’s criteria allow for the regular replacement of headstones once any erosion had been noted (this contrasted with the more conservative advice provided by the War Memorials Trust). Churchill described this as a “military standard of aesthetic,” noting that people traditionally associated the presence of white stone and clear inscriptions with ongoing care and respect. Churchill finished her presentation by noting, however, that public attitudes to decay and weathering may (perhaps) be changing and that the Commission could gradually move towards a more conservation-based approach.

Cambridge War Memorial

Cambridge War Memorial, “The Homecoming,” sculpture by Robert Tait McKenzie


The study day was very interesting, especially for an interested amateur like myself. I got the impression that, even almost one-hundred years on, the war memorials of the First World War can still be a contested space, with debates about their purpose and aesthetics reflecting wider societal attitudes to war and peace, as well as to the First World War itself. Above all, however, there was value in trying to appreciate the sheer number of memorials that exist and the challenges associated with their protection and preservation. The illustrated reviews provided by Gavin Stamp and Roger Bowdler alerted me to the existence of memorials previously unknown, including the (intriguing) Waggoners Memorial in Sledmere as well as important memorials in Italy and Germany. The presentations on the local contexts of memorials was also a reminder of how much information remains to be discovered, for example  from local newspaper reports or from the archives of organisations like SPAB. For example, I was unaware that the Wayside Cross Society had ever proposed the restoration of all of Dorset’s preaching crosses as memorials. In other cases, memorials can easily become lost from view. Readers of my earlier blog on the new Dorsetshire Regiment memorial at Authuille may wonder why there had been no earlier regimental memorial. In fact, there had been an earlier memorial, “with money subscribed by all ranks” [18]. The money was spent on refitting the County Hospital in Dorchester, with a memorial plaque to that effect unveiled by the Earl of Shaftesbury (the Lord-Lieutenant) in January 1925 (although there was also a book of remembrance deposited in Sherborne Abbey). The hospital has since moved to a new site in Dorchester and the older buildings converted into housing (I am not sure whether the memorial plaque still exists). As Roger Bowdler pointed out, when it comes to war memorials, we are still very much in the phase of discovery.


1. Charles Gore, Oxford Diocesan Magazine, No. 170, April 1916, p. 52.

2. Yorkshire Evening Post, 4 September 1918, p. 2.

3. SPAB:

4. War Memorials Trust:

5. ChurchCare:

6. See: Gavin Stamp, The Memorial to the Missing of the Somme (London: Profile Books, 2006);  Gavin Stamp, “Tragic triumph.” In: Anti-Ugly: excursions in English architecture and design (London: Aurum, 2013), pp. 173-177.

7. Stamp has elsewhere written that, “It is as if France was so traumatised by the scale of her loss that a considered artistic response was impossible.” Gavin Stamp, “Memorials.” In: A part of history: aspects of the British experience of the First World War (London: Continuum, 2008), p. 149.

8. The full text of Maggie Goodall’s presentation has since been made available  on the ChurchCare web site [PDF].

9. After the war, Clough Williams-Ellis and his wife Amabel published the earliest regimental history of the Tank Corps: Clough Williams-Ellis and A. Williams-Ellis, The Tank Corps (London: Country Life, 1919).

10. The manuscript of Edward Thomas’s war diary is available from the University of Oxford’s First World War Poetry Digital Archive.

11. A. H. Powell, et al., Report on the treatment of old cottages (London: A. R. Powys, for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, 1919).

12. This controversy is covered briefly in Stefan Goebel, The Great War and medieval memory: war, remembrance and medievalism in Britain and Germany, 1914-1940 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 50-51.

13. K. S. Inglis, “The Homecoming: the war memorial movement in Cambridge, England” Journal of Contemporary History, 27, no. 4 (October 1992), pp. 583-605.

14. We Will Remember Them: London’s Great War Memorials, Quadriga Gallery, Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, London, 16 July – 30 Nov 2014.

15. Kate Tiller, Remembrance and community: war memorials and local history (Ashbourne: British Association for Local History, 2013).

16. Charles Gore, Oxford Diocesan Magazine, No. 170, April 1916, p. 52; In Oxford Diocesan Magazine, No. 178 (December 1916), pp. 189-90, Bishop Gore reproduced a letter to his clergy: “War Memorials. My dear Sir, — this terrible war, with its accompanying losses of the evils of those we love, will bring with it proposals in most of our parishes for Memorials both private and public of the gallant men who have given their lives for their country. You will, in the case of any memorial tablet or monument proposed for your church, seek a Faculty to enable the monument to be lawfully introduced; but the function of the Faculty is hardly that of securing the building from the intrusion of memorials which are open to criticism from an artistic point of view. It is, however, of the greatest importance that we should guard our churches from this point of view also. I have accordingly appointed a committee […] to help you in this direction […]. Relatives in such cases are often importunate and public taste is not always to be trusted. And we hope that it will strengthen your hands to have this Committee to refer to before any plan is accepted, whether public or private.”

17. See: Philip Longworth, The unending vigil: the history of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2010); David Crane, Empires of the dead: how one man’s vision led to the creation of WWI’s war graves (London: William Collins, 2013).

18. “Dorset Regiment’s War Memorial,” The Western Gazette, 30 January 1925, p. 12.



  1. […] my report on the recent study day on the conservation of war memorials, I commented that Roger Bowdler of […]

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