Watton War Memorial

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1456887
Date first listed:
08-Aug-2018
Statutory Address:
c120m south of Queen's Hall, Memorial Way, Junction of Thetford Road and Merton Road, Watton, Norfolk, IP25 6BS

Map

Ordnance survey map of Watton War Memorial
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Location

Statutory Address:
c120m south of Queen's Hall, Memorial Way, Junction of Thetford Road and Merton Road, Watton, Norfolk, IP25 6BS

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:
Norfolk
District:
Breckland (District Authority)
Parish:
Watton
National Grid Reference:
TF9174000672

Summary

First World War memorial, unveiled 1920, with later additions for the Second World War.

Reasons for Designation

Watton War Memorial, which stands at the junction of Thetford Road and Merton Road, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:

* as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice it made in the conflicts of the C20.

Architectural interest:

* a striking war memorial cross including a bronze wreath and other commemorative motifs.

History

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.

One such memorial was raised at Watton as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by 30 members of the local community who died in the First World War. A parish meeting held in November 1918 appointed a war memorial committee: the committee developed proposals and in June 1919 presented a scheme to the public, for discussion. The scheme was to build a hall and recreation room with a commemorative tablet built into the exterior, at a cost of approximately £2,000.

Some of those present at the discussion felt it was too ambitious, especially as peace celebrations were still being paid for. They feared that, as no maintenance funds came into the scheme as proposed, it would be doomed to fail. It was moved that the committee seek subscriptions from the public, in order to see how much support would be received.

In the event, a freestanding memorial was built at the western end of Church Walk and, according to a dated archive photograph, was unveiled in 1920. Fundraising continued: in June 1921 a picture show at the Electric Cinema was held to raise funds, and in July, a Grand Fete was staged.

Following the Second World War a plaque was added to the memorial to commemorate the deaths of 16 local servicemen and one woman, Margaret Knott, who served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. The memorial has been moved to its current location at the southern end of the car-park on Memorial Way.

Details

Watton War Memorial is located at the junction of Thetford Road and Merton Road. It comprises a quadrate cross on a tapering pedestal at the top of a tall pylon, square on plan and slightly tapering. The pylon stands on a deep base, raised on two shallow steps. The monument is surrounded by a spiked chain carried by eight urn-shaped ornamental metal posts, each post decorated with wreaths cast in low relief to each side. A square kerb encloses the whole ensemble.

The front face of the pylon bears a cast bronze wreath, below which the principal dedicatory inscription reads IN PROUD AND GRATEFUL/ MEMORY OF THE MEN OF/ WATTON/ WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES/ IN THE GREAT WAR/ 1914 + 1919/ FOR THE SACRED CAUSE/ OF RIGHT AND FREEDOM/ THIS MONUMENT/ HAS BEEN ERECTED BY/ THEIR FELLOW TOWNSMEN/ TO COMMEMORATE THEIR/ GLORIOUS SELF-SACRIFICE/ FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH.

The commemorated First World War names are recorded on the other three sides of the pylon. The Second World War names were added by the affixing of a cast metal plaque to the east face of the pylon. The inscription on that plaque reads 1939 1945/ THE FOLLOWING GAVE THEIR LIVES/ (17 NAMES)/ AND SO THEY PASSED OVER AND ALL/ THE TRUMPETS SOUNDED FOR THEM ON/ THE OTHER SIDE.

Sources

Websites
History of Watton - The War Memorial, accessed 2 May 2018 from http://www.historyofwatton.org.uk/wattonttages/099.htm
War Memorials Online, accessed 2 May 2018 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/181266/
War Memorials Register, accessed 2 May 2018 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/19876
Other
Thetford & Watton Times and People's Weekly Journal: 14 June 1919, p5; 9 October 1920, p3; 18 June 1921, p5; 2 July 1921, p5

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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