On Thursday, 13th September the Reverend David Bond will be giving a talk about war memorials as part of our cultural heritage, and how they reflect artistic, social and military history. The oldest recorded memorial dates back to the 7th century, but the most prolific period for commemorating deaths in conflict was immediately after the First World War.
Almost every small town and village raised funds to pay tribute to those who had given their lives. Local organising committees decided what form the memorial would take and where it should be sited, usually after consulting members of the community. The priority was to create an accurate and lasting record of the names of the fallen. In Deeping St James, Market Deeping and West Deeping, wall plaques were erected inside the respective churches. Deeping St Nicholas has an inscribed memorial stone in its churchyard and the Deeping Gate Roll of Honour is in Maxey churchyard.
In urban centres, more elaborate structures were erected to provide a focus for ceremonies of remembrance. The Cenotaph in Whitehall was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, who was responsible for 43 other First World War memorials across the country, including one at Spalding. He is said to have visited the town and personally selected its site in the gardens of Ascoughfee Hall. Based on the style of a Tuscan pavilion, it is viewed at the end of a rectangular lake and is a Grade I listed building.
Elsewhere memorials take the form of parks and gardens, as well as traditional stone structures of columns and crosses. Peterborough District Memorial Hospital was opened in 1929 in tribute to casualties of the First World War, but it has now been largely demolished. Only its facade survives as part of West Town School in Midland Road.
Memorials dedicated solely to the Second World War are rare, as it was usual to add a second Roll of Honour to existing memorials. This one pictured at Barnards Green, Malvern takes the form of a bus shelter with a clock tower on top. The side windows are decorated with poppies and it contains a brass plaque “… To the memory of the men who made the supreme sacrifice…” (photograph by Philip Butler in 2016)
David Bond is a popular speaker, who will give new insights into how societies honour their war dead. His talk starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School. There is a £2 charge for non-members.
At this first meeting of the season, annual membership can be renewed and new members will be welcomed. Costs remain the same at £6 for concessions (£10 for joint members at the same address) and £7 for non-concessions (£12 joint). Members pay only £1 per meeting, and are entitled to half price tickets for our special event with Jonathan Foyle on 8th November – £3 per ticket, instead of £6.