On original site
Within a garden/park/churchyard/enclosure/Marketplace
- First World War (1914-1918)
About the memorial:
The Battle of Gheluvelt was an early engagement in the First World War. The British Expeditionary Force had established a line to prevent the German forces reaching the Channel ports. On 31 October 1914 the Germans broke through this line and the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire regiment was sent to plug the gap and did so with a bayonet charge in the grounds of the Chateau at Gheluvelt in Flanders. They pushed back the German force of more than a thousand men, but with the loss to the battalion of 34 men and 158 injured. The victory was seen by many as highly significant, and a turning point in the early history of the war. At the opening of the park, on 17 June 1922, Field Marshal John French said that 'on that day the 2nd Worcesters saved the British Empire'.
Worcester Council agreed to buy the land and the existing buildings for £2,300 in January 1918, and to accept the mayor’s offer to subsidise the purchase. At a meeting on September 1918 it was agreed that the land should be known as Gheluvelt Park (WMO 255501), in commemoration of the victory in which the Worcesters had played such a significant role, and Alfred Hill Parker, who was both an alderman and an architect presented a plan for the layout of the park.
In July 1923 it was decided that the arch would form the entrance to the park. Alfred Hill Parker, who was both an alderman and an architect, submitted revised sketches and an estimate and in February 1924 he presented a tender from Stoker Brothers for the arch and wing walls at £403 12s, and of £135 for the gates from James Wood. Bronze plaques recording the earlier opening of the park and the laying of the foundation stone and opening of the houses were applied to the arch.
The gateway has brick piers set at either side of the central arch, with angled wing walls and railings to either side and iron gates to the central arch. Both eastern and western faces are similar. The brick arch has banded rustication to the lower body of the piers at either side and this is topped by a projecting band of headers at the level of the springing of the arch. A raised band of stretchers surrounds the semi-circular arch and there is a triple keystone motif of bricks to the head. The spandrels at either side on both the eastern and western flanks have brick carvings of laurel wreaths in high relief. The wall diminishes in thickness by stages and to the top of the wall is a frieze with panels of raised brickwork. Both sides have a stone panel to the centre, and that on the eastern front reads ‘GHELUVELT PARK’. Above this is an ashlar cornice and the monument is topped by a hipped cap of pantiles.
At either side of the arch are half piers, abutting the flanks. These are panelled with moulded ashlar bases and caps. The finials take the form of square vases from which rise stunted obelisks. Angled, wrought-iron screens set above low walls project to either side and connect to full piers with similar dressings and caps. The two central gates have panels of wrought iron and cast metal panels showing the arms of the city with miniature stunted-obelisk finials, in imitation of the stone caps to the piers. The piers are connected to other railings and piers which appear to be of later date and photographs of the Earl of Ypres opening the park, show a picket fence.
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