An C18 milestone moved in 1922 and adapted to mark First World War casualties of British and Commonwealth Forces in the Ypres Salient.
Reasons for Designation
The Ypres memorial milestone c20m to the north of Christ Church, Shooter's Hill, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events and the sacrifices made by British and Commonwealth service personnel in the First World War;
* Architectural interest: the adaptation of a milestone is a simple yet eloquent symbolic link with the region in which a quarter of First World War soldiers killed in action died;
* Group value: with Prospect Cottage (Grade II).
The New Cross Turnpike Trust was established by Act of Parliament in 1717 to take control of the maintenance and management of lengths of highway from Borough in south London to Lewisham and Blackheath Hill. By the mid-C18 further amendments of the Act had given the Trust control of the roads in a much greater area. The Trust’s responsibilities included the Dover Road passing over Shooter’s Hill between Blackheath and Bexley. Here, the road approximates the course of the Roman Road, Watling Street. As well as gates to control access to and from its turnpike roads, the Trust erected milestones at the roadsides.
The eighth milestone on this section of road (that is, a marker recording eight miles from London Bridge) was erected at the roadside opposite the school and Christ Church, Shooter’s Hill. Whilst the Trust closed in 1813, its milestones remained and in 1922 this marker was moved a short distance into the churchyard. Associated with the erection of the community’s First World War memorial in that year, a new plaque was added to the milestone to record the distance from Shooter’s Hill to the Cloth Hall, Ypres.
In addition, the new plaque notes the numbers of British and Commonwealth casualties in the Ypres Salient, a low-lying area where the Allied front projected into territory held by the German Army. Here, fighting during the First World War was continuous from late-1914 until the end of the conflict. Of this territory the Commonwealth War Graves Commission writes, “The experience of living and fighting in the Salient was one of the defining features of the Western Front for Commonwealth Soldiers.” Notorious for its mud and appalling conditions, a quarter of soldiers killed in action during the First World War died in the Ypres Salient. More than 40,000 of those buried could not be identified, and the names of more than 54,000 whose bodies were not found or identified are recorded on the Menin Gate.
Following a theft some years ago, one of the plaques is a replacement.
The milestone stands just within the churchyard of Christ Church (unlisted), opposite Prospect Cottage (Grade II). The low stone carries three metal plaques. That facing the road reads 8/ MILES/ TO/ LONDON/ BRIDGE. The plaque facing the church reads 7/ MILES/ TO/ DARTFORD. The third plaque, facing west, reads 130 MILES TO/ YPRES./ IN DEFENDING/ THE SALIENT/ OUR CASUALTIES/ WERE:-/ 90,000 KILLED/ 70,500 MISSING,/ 410,000 WOUNDED.
This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 20 July 2017.
This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 23 November 2017.