Image showing the cleaning of bronze statuary on a a war memorial with super-heated water.
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Cleaning bronze statuary on a war memorial with super-heated water © Rupert Harris Conservation Ltd
Cleaning bronze statuary on a war memorial with super-heated water © Rupert Harris Conservation Ltd

Looking After War Memorials

Do you manage or care for a war memorial or a memorial garden? This page provides practical advice on conserving, protecting and maintaining these unique monuments that stand at the heart of almost every community.

This page covers:

Conserving war memorials and war memorial landscapes

For comprehensive advice on conserving and repairing war memorials and war memorial parks, gardens and landscapes please see our guidance on best practice on planning and carrying out conservation and management work:

The Conservation, Repair and Management of War Memorials
Published 11 June 2015

Guidance and best practice on the understanding, assessment, planning and implementation of conservation work to war memorials as well as their ongoing maintenance and protection.

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Conservation and Management of War Memorial Landscapes
Published 27 January 2016

The aim of this updated guidance provides an overview of how to plan projects. It aims to address queries often raised by volunteers, and draws on the experience of public parks and garden restoration projects.

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Assessing and recording condition

Civic Voice have produced a film showing you how to survey the condition of your war memorial:

Watch Civic Voice's condition survey tutorial

Cleaning

Sensitive removal of disfiguring and damaging soiling and biological growth is an essential part of maintaining war memorials. Our guidance publication on cleaning sets out  good practice for cleaning war memorials, and provides a step-by-step approach to aid decisions on whether cleaning is necessary and the range of techniques available.

Conserving War Memorials: Cleaning
Published 14 June 2017

This technical advice note describes good practice for cleaning war memorials, outlining a step-by-step approach to aid decisions on whether cleaning is necessary and the range of techniques available.

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Find out more about cleaning stone war memorials by watching our videos on:

There is also a case study on cleaning the Cheltenham War Memorial which included hand and steam cleaning:

Conserving War Memorials Case Study: Cleaning
Published 24 November 2017

This case study describes the methods used to clean the Cheltenham War Memorial, which included hand and steam cleaning.

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Conserving incised inscriptions

Inscriptions are fundamental to the purpose and significance of a war memorial. Given the age of most memorials, perfect preservation of their inscriptions is unlikely, but legibility nevertheless remains a critical consideration when assessing the overall condition of a memorial and establishing the need for any intervention.

Find out  more about conserving incised inscriptions on stone war memorials by watching our videos on:

There is also a case study on the challenges of conserving the inscriptions on the Cheltenham War Memorial:

Conserving War Memorials Case Study: The Conservation of Mortar-Filled Inscriptions
Published 24 November 2017

This case study describes the challenges faced when restoring mortar-filled inscriptions on the Cheltenham War Memorial.

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Structural issues and repairs

Understanding if there are structural issues and the causes of them is fundamental. Our guidance provides advice on identifying and diagnosing issues repair.

Conserving War Memorials: Structural Problems and Repairs
Published 14 June 2017

This technical note describes good practice for diagnosing and understanding the structural problems found in war memorials, with a focus on freestanding masonry and memorials built of concrete.

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There are two case studies on structural issues:

  • Grade II listed Waterloo Memorial at Bispham Hall looks at the deformation caused by metal cramps.
  • Grade II listed Civilian War Memorial at Abney Park Cemetery, London  looks at stabilising the foundations
Conserving War Memorials Case Study: Deterioration of Metal Fixings
Published 24 November 2017

This case study describes a conservation project to the Grade-II listed Waterloo Memorial at Bispham Hall. The memorial was in poor condition with deformation caused by ferrous cramps.

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Conserving War Memorials Case Study: Differential Movement of Foundations
Published 24 November 2017

This case study describes the options and chosen solution for the stabilisation of the Civilian War Memorial within Abney Park Cemetery, London.

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Bronze features

Bronze elements are subject to soiling, deterioration and even loss.  Three case studies look at surface treatment and replacement of missing bronze elements:

  • Surface treatment of the Tottenham War Memorial’s bronze statue of Peace, a laurel-crowned angel
  • Surface treatment of the Bootle War Memorial bronze statues and plaques
  • Replacing missing bronze parts to the Bootle War Memorial
Conserving War Memorials Case Study: The Surface Treatment of Bronze Statuary
Published 24 November 2017

This case study describes the conservation work carried out to the bronze elements of the First and Second World Wars Memorial in Tottenham which had previously been treated and painted.

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Conserving War Memorials Case Study: The Surface Treatment of Bronze Statuary
Published 24 November 2017

This document describes the treatment undertaken to the surfaces of the bronze statues and plaques on the Grade-II listed Bootle War Memorial.

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Conserving War Memorials Case Study: The Replacement of Missing Bronze Elements
Published 24 November 2017

This case study describes the treatment undertaken to address missing bronze elements on the Grade-II listed Bootle War Memorial.

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Funding

There are a number of different sources of funding for war memorials, particularly during these centenary years of the First World War. These may include bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and your local authority.

For comprehensive information on funding conservation work for war memorials, visit the Grants section of War Memorials Trust website.

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