Whitchurch on Thames memorial

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Reference WMO/138550


Whitchurch Hill

Whitchurch on Thames




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In 2016, WMT gave a grant towards this war memorial. As it has been a number of years since the grant was given, we would like an up-to-date condition survey and photographs to be added to this war memorial record. Can you help?

Status: On original site
Type: Freestanding
Location: External
Setting: Roadside
Description: Latin cross
  • Stone Stone (any)
Lettering: Leaded
  • First World War (1914-1918)
About the memorial: A stone cross on a tapered stone column mounted on a three-level square stone plinth, the whole on a larger two-level stone plinth with a wall around the back which bears the names of the fallen. The idea of a War Memorial was raised soon after the end of the First World War, and on February 11th 1919 a meeting was called in the school, the date set by the date of a full moon , and various suggestions put forward , including a village cross somewhere in the parish, and by March 1919 a committee had been formed, consisting amongst others of the rector, Lady Rose and Mr C H Palmer. The latter were local landowners, Mr Palmer being the Palmer of Huntley and Palmer, one of Reading’s biggest employers. The committee reported back to another meeting of parishioners on May 31 on their proposal to have a tablet roll of honour in each of the two churches in the parish. This proposal clearly did not go down well, perhaps not surprisingly, as it had not been one of the suggestions that had been put forward at the February public meeting. Mr Hugh Smith proposed an amendment that a cross should be placed in some conspicuous place outside. It is reported that “after some discussion the amendment was carried by a large majority”. The meeting then ended, and it seems that the committee stood down as their proposal had been soundly rejected ! A new committee came together, and met on 24th June under the chairmanship of Sir Frederick Cardew KCMG , with some of the old committee members but not Mr Palmer. In December 1919 a list of names of the fallen was published, with their ranks and regiments, with the invitation to contact the Rector if there were any mistakes. There was also the intention to make a final decision on the memorial, although the rector seemed keen to press ahead with the original idea of rolls of honour tablets in the churches. This of course was the traditional form of memorial, demonstrated by the monuments in many cathedrals listing the fallen of now long forgotten nineteenth century campaigns in various parts of the world. By November 1919, the new committee was unanimous of its new plan, and had an artist preparing a design, and was ready to put it before a meeting of parishioners. By December 1920 a site had been chosen, at a mid point between the two parts of the parish, there having been previously a proposal to have it down by the river. The rector was keen that there should be no railings around the memorial, and also suggested a seat should be part of the design. Not a bad idea considering its location halfway up a hill! In the meantime, Mr Palmer pressed ahead with his original idea for a tablet roll of honour in the church, and also paid for a porch at St Johns Church, while a similar tablet was installed in St Marys Church. The tablet in St Marys was dedicated on January 15th 1921, and the South porch and tablet at St Johns was dedicated on February 21st 1921. The main war memorial was dedicated on November 20th 1921 with a very large crowd of local people, and a former sergeant laid a wreath on behalf of the men of the parish. About 100 men from the parish served in war and came home, their names are listed on a roll of honour in the church. The memorial was designed by Frank Loughborough Pearson, who was the son of the eminent Victorian architect J L Pearson. After his father’s death in 1897, Frank completed many of his father’s commissions.. The contractor was T Boxall & Sons of Pangbourne, and the stone mason Messrs Toms & Son of Forbury Road, Reading. The total cost was £394-17-6, equivalent today of about £16,000. This was paid for by local donations, mostly amounts of one or two guineas, ( £1.05 being a guinea, todays equivalent £42), with a few contributions of ten or twenty guineas. The names of the dead of the 1939-45 war were added, and the memorial was unchanged until a storm of January 1990, when a falling tree toppled the columns and the original celtic cross was shattered. Unfortunately the memorial was at that time uninsured, so the remains of the column were re-erected, and a simple cross added. Parishes in this area were reorganised in about 1951, and the Parish of Goring Heath was formed out of the northern part of Whitchurch parish, resulting in the War Memorial being located close to the boundary of the two civil parishes. The ecclesiastical parish is unchanged.
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Grants to support the repair and conservation of war memorials are available from the charity War Memorials Trust if it has raised funds. Support is focused on war memorials in Very bad or Poor condition or where there is a serious Concern.

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