First World War memorial cross, unveiled 1917.
Reasons for Designation
Amington War Memorial, which is situated in Amington Cemetery, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice it made in the First World War;
* as an example of an early First World War memorial which was erected before the end of the conflict.
* a striking stone memorial cross.
The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials erected across England. This was the result of both the huge impact on communities of the loss of three quarters of a million British lives, and also the official policy of not repatriating the dead which meant that the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss. However, this trend had its roots not in the wake of the war but in the midst of the conflict.
As the war progressed and the number of casualties increased memorials were already being built to remember the dead and those still serving on the battlefields abroad. These took the form of private memorials to family members but also a growing number were being erected by, or on behalf of, local communities. The earliest known example of a community memorial is thought to be the War Memorial in Rawtenstall Cemetery, Lancashire (Grade II). Erected in September 1915 at the instigation of Councillor Carrie Whitehead, the intention is clearly inscribed on the memorial for it to act as “some comfort to those who lost men very dear to them.” Another form of early First World War community memorial was the street shrine. This practice originated in the East End of London, but was soon adopted in other towns to commemorate those from a particular street. In some instances these shrines also included relatives from other streets, while some covered whole districts. Surviving examples include those in Eton Street (erected October 1916) and Sharp Street (erected May 1917) in Kingston upon Hull. The erection of memorials in the midst of the conflict was considered controversial by some but by 1917 the desire among communities for some form of commemoration was clear.
Amington is an example of one such community which chose to erect a memorial before the end of the First World War as a permanent testament to the on-going sacrifice being made by members of the local community during the conflict. In the Spring of 1917 the parish council had received the offer of a cross, to be erected free of charge in the cemetery, to commemorate local soldiers who had been killed in the fighting. Presented by EJ Cole, a local businessman, the cross was unveiled later in 1917. It is thought to have been made by local firm Gibbs and Canning. The cemetery itself had been opened only three years previously. In 1916 Cole’s eldest son, a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery, was recorded as missing: perhaps Cole sought to ornament the new cemetery with a suitable monument to mark the community’s sacrifices in the conflict (in the event, Gunner Cole had been held prisoner in Germany and returned home at the end of the war).
Following the end of the conflict a stone wall tablet in the Church of St Editha (Grade II), and a new church porch, were dedicated as memorials to 21 local servicemen who had died in the period 1914-1919. The memorial cross in the cemetery was restored in 2014, in association with a local history research project. Twenty-four names are now recorded on the memorial’s plaques.
The stone memorial stands in Amington Cemetery on Woodhouse Lane. It is at the centre of the cemetery, standing in the intersection of the main footpaths. It takes the form of an elaborate cross fleury that rises from a short, tapered shaft, square on plan. The cross shaft stands on a three-stepped stone base. Small sloping stones abutting the bottom step carry metal plaques recording the commemorated names.