Did you know that 10,000 First World War memorials in the UK are in such a poor state that they are at risk of being lost forever? That was the worrying statistic that David Young and I learnt at the War Memorials Condition Survey workshop, held in Oxford on 1 March 2017. This statistic is doubly worrying because our War Memorial has started to lean over towards the road. David brought this problem to the attention of the Parish Council in January 2017. There is light at the end of the tunnel, because the War Memorials Trust has some funding which can be used to fund up to 75% of the cost of repairs. First, we need to identify our War Memorial on the Imperial War Museums’ website, then carry out a condition survey on it and upload details onto the database. Historic England has lists of skilled craftsmen that can repair war memorials, and the War Memorials Trust can provide conservation advice.
Before we can apply for a grant from the War Memorials Trust, we need to discover who the owner/custodian of our War Memorial is. At the Parish Council meeting on 22 March, Robert Lynch, the Churchwarden, updated the council on his findings. The Parish Magazines indicate that a War Memorial committee was set up in 1920 and that the Kidmore End War Memorial was dedicated on 1 May 1921. The ‘heirs in law’ of our War Memorial are unknown at this point, but because the War Memorial is situated on consecrated land, it is afforded the protection of the faculty jurisdiction of the diocesan consistory court. This means that although the War Memorial is not the property of the church and the church does not have any legal duty to maintain the War Memorial, permission will have to be sought from the Chancellor of the Oxford Diocese before any remedial work can be carried out. At present, the War Memorial is taped off until civil engineers and a structural architect are instructed to carry out surveys. Please keep away from the War Memorial until we know how structurally sound it is.
The Parish Council and the Church are taking this issue very seriously and will be working together to find a resolution. Extra funding from the War Memorials Trust to conserve First World War memorials is available until the end of 2018, but the custodian of the War Memorial has to be known before any grants are allocated. If you have any information about the War Memorial, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or you could phone me on 9723700. If you enjoy searching archives and Parish records, please let me know because you could be just the person we need to help to find out who the members of the War Memorial committee were, who originally funded it, and whether it was formally handed over to the Parish.