Original WWI Memorial

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Reference WMO254717

Address:

Church of St Michael

High Street

Toseland

St Neots

PE19 6RX

England

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Status: On original site
Type: Non freestanding
Location: Internal
Setting: Inside a building - public/private
Description: Other
Materials:
  • Glass Glass
  • Timber Timber (any)
Lettering: Other
Conflicts:
  • First World War (1914-1918)
About the memorial: This was recently found in the vestry cupboard, where it had possibly been for a very long time – relegated after the brass memorial was installed. Frame: glazed, painted, wooden. Content: Watercolour, pencil and collage on paper, hand-drawn and lettered. Possible date, shortly after the Armistice of November 1918, and before the installation of the official memorial plaque to the war dead. So it was the original memorial. It may be by Robert Topham, who lived at ‘The Limes’ (no.78), High Street, Toseland, fought in the war, eventually as pilot, and was also an artist (see Harold Meeks, Ninety Years of Country Life, Wyton, Cambs.: 1993, inside front cover). He was also a cousin of Harold Meeks’ wife, Hilda Topham. To some extent it follows the design of the 1914 pro-forma Roll of Honour, with the start and end dates of the war set as headers on the left and right margins of the page. Inscription heading: IN HONOURED MEMORY. This is followed by an apparently collaged photographic image of the London cenotaph on a black background, then: THE NATIONS TRIBUTE TO ITS GLORIOUS DEAD. It has a white box at the bottom with the header: IN PROUD AND LOVING MEMORY OF, with a small space for names. This format suggests that it was based on another pro-forma, this time relating to the end of the war, published by D. Warren. Below the cenotaph image, is hand-written in capital letters two columns of the 4 memorialised dead, each set in its own hand-drawn scroll. While, in a sense, this draft work was superceded as the main WWI memorial in the church by the eventual installation of the official WWI memorial, the work, by a local artist who was a surviving participant of WWI, is arguably beyond price, because of what it is. It needs to be carefully and professionally conserved/preserved.
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'In honoured memory', followed by an apparently collaged image of the London cenotaph, then,' The nation's tribute to its glorious dead', with a white box at the bottom with the header, In proud and loving memory of', underneath which are the names and regimental affiliations of the four men who died.

Left-hand side R. Manning S. Hedge Right-hand side E.Wheal G. Meeks

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