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The War Memorial

2nd of November 2002

As Remembrance Sunday 2002 approaches, it is an opportune time for me to pass on to you some of the details that my son Andrew has discovered about our village War Memorial in past issues of Parish magazine at the County Record Office.

In February 1919, the vicar, Canon Jeffries, raised the question of war memorials and stated that there was a general consensus that there should be two memorials, one for the church and one for the village. The latter would need to be distinctive and worthy of the occasion, although not necessarily expensive, so that all in the parish and village would be glad to contribute towards it.

A month later, it was reported that after two well-attended meetings had been held, it was unanimously decided that a war memorial should be erected in a public position.

Suggestions for this included almshouses, a home for the village nurse or for soldiers widows, an obelisk, an additional wing to the Village Institute, a soldier monument or a statue. The choice eventually lay between a drinking trough with fountain and a large cross to be erected on the Common inscribed with the names of all who served in the Great War. For hygiene reasons, the former suggestion was rejected and the Cross decided on. By January of the following year it was reported that, as the full amount of £250 had been raised in the form of promises and donations, including a very generous gift of £73, which had completed the sum required, work on the War Memorial could go ahead. A resolution was passed authorising Mr Rivington (of Little Callipers), the joint Honorary Secretary of the Fund, to engage the services of a competent architect, who should come to Chipperfield and advise the committee as to the design, materials and most suitable site for the Memorial Cross. The architect was F.C. Eden, a well-known ecclesiastical architect at that time, who proposed a quadrangular column 15 feet high, inset with red brick alternating with dull white stone and surmounted by a white stone cross, inlaid in front with dark slate. There would be a three-stepped base of the same stone forming together the structure that we know. The Memorial was ready for unveiling and dedication on Sunday, 3rd October 1920 and a large crowd gathered at 3.30pm, when after a short service in St Pauls, a procession led by the choir proceeded to the Common, where the monument had been swathed in white and a large Union Jack. At Canon Jeffries invitation, Mr Rivington unveiled the Memorial and gave ‘an address of restrained, but moving eloquence. The Vicar then solemnly dedicated it. The Kings Langley Scouts, who provided two buglers for the playing of the Last Post and Reveille, between which the flag was lowered, played a significant part in the ceremony, which was not dissimilar to the one we observe today. After the playing of the National Anthem, floral tributes were laid on the three steps of the pedestal of the cross by the bereaved widows and friends. A special arrangement of palm leaves and beautiful white flowers was placed on behalf of the village by the lady, whose husband was the first from the village to lose his life ‘for the cause of Liberty and Right. Only modest changes to the Memorial were made during the subsequent 80 years. After 1945, the names of those from the village who gave their lives in the Second World War were added. A flower border and hedges now surround the plinth. However in autumnal gales in 2000, the surmounting Cross was blown down and broke into fragments. After considerable research, it was ascertained that there was no formal owner of the War Memorial, so the Parish Council then took on the responsibility for restoring the damage. At the time of writing, the stone masons selected for the contract are carving the cross, which they hope to have in place in time for this years Act of Remembrance on November 10.
Mary Nobbs

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