Olney War Memorial


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
c35m north-east of The Bull Public House, Market Place, Olney, Milton Keynes, MK46 4BA


Ordnance survey map of Olney War Memorial
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Statutory Address:
c35m north-east of The Bull Public House, Market Place, Olney, Milton Keynes, MK46 4BA

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

Milton Keynes (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


First World War memorial, unveiled 1921, with later additions for the Second World War.

Reasons for Designation

Olney War Memorial, which stands in the Market Place, 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:

* an understated yet well-proportioned and striking war memorial with subtle ornamentation.

Group value:

* with numerous Grade II-listed buildings and the Grade II*-listed Gilpin House and Orchard Side, Cowper House and Newton Museum.


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 Olney as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by 60 members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.

A meeting was held on 19 February 1919 to discuss the steps to be taken to secure a suitable memorial, with J Whitmee in the chair: a scheme for a town hall with a library was proposed. There had been a Men’s Service Fund during the War that had sent £1 to every man serving and it was agreed that the balance of £142 11s 2d should be made available for the memorial. A committee was formed with JC Nicholls as Honorary Secretary. However, it was reported to a meeting on 24 June that the estimated cost of £9,000 was prohibitive, and a meeting would be called to discuss an alternative.

The matter was discussed at a Parish Council meeting on 5 January 1920 with one member, Mr Whitmore, arguing strongly for a recreation field. It was noted that, whilst it was a good idea, the only suitable field was unavailable. A proposal by Mr JW Mann for a memorial on Market Hill was carried unanimously, whereupon he agreed to donate £100 towards the cost. Mr Mann thought that a cenotaph would be appropriate.

Some £190 towards the cost was handed over at a meeting of the War Memorial Committee on 16 February. This included £140 from the Service Men’s Christmas Box Fund and £50 from the Peace Celebrations Committee.

Numerous designs were considered and, by 6 March, one by Messrs JG Pullen and Sons of Northampton was selected. Work duly started and, at a meeting of the Committee on 3 January 1921, it was noted that £200 was requested on account as building work was nearing completion. The memorial was unveiled on 1 May 1921 by Lord Horne.

On 14 May it was reported that the final meeting of the War Memorial Committee had been held. The memorial cost £649 12s 1d against income raised of £672 17s 5d. The committee’s Honorary Secretary Mr Nicholls was presented with an engraved silver cigarette box by Mr Mann, who spoke of the capable manner in which he had carried out his duties.

In 1944 the war memorial was damaged by lorries driving on the Market Place. In October of that year Olney Parish Council met to discuss the erection of a Second World War memorial: a pavilion on the Recreation Ground was suggested. By October 1946, the decision was made not to raise funds for a Second World War memorial, because of a lack of public interest. At some point following this a dedication to the Second World War and the names of 19 local servicemen who died in that conflict were added to the First World War memorial. Four additional First World War names have also been added to the memorial since its erection, including that of Edgar Mobbs (whose memorial in Northampton, by Alfred Turner, is listed at Grade II*).

The war memorial was originally enclosed by low posts carrying a rail, but the landscaping of the Market Place has since been re-designed.


The Derbyshire stone memorial stands in the northern end of the Market Place, adjacent to numerous Grade II-listed buildings and the Grade II*-listed Gilpin House and Orchard Side, Cowper House and Newton Museum. It takes the form of a c6m tall column, square on plan, rising from a pedestal and two-stepped base.

The column is ornamented with wreaths carved in low relief on each face at its foot, and a narrow laurel leaf and ribbon band towards the top. The pedestal below dies back to the column foot. The incised inscriptions are recorded on the pedestal’s faces and the upper stage of the pedestal’s foot.

The principal dedicatory inscription to the front (north) face of the pedestal reads TO THE GLORY OF GOD/ AND IN MEMORY OF THE MEN/ FROM THIS TOWN/ WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR/ 1914 – 1919./ ”THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE” and below IN TOKEN OF SORROW FOR THEIR LOSS,/ OF PRIDE IN THEIR VALOUR./ 1939 – 1945. The First World War names are listed in inset panels on the other three faces, with the Second World War names recorded on the upper stage of the pedestal’s foot.


Milton Keynes Heritage Association, accessed 27 September 2017 from www.mkheritage.org.uk/odhs/olney-war-memorial/
War Memorials Online, accessed 30 April 2018 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/115153/
War Memorials Register, accessed 30 April 2018 from https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/8166
Bedfordshire Times and Independent, 6 May 1921; 6 October 1944; 11 October 1946.
Northampton Mercury, 9 January 1920; 22 April 1921; 6 May 1921; 11 February 1944.
The Bucks Herald, 23 April 1921.
The North Bucks Standard, 22 February, 28 June 1919; 21 February, 6 March 1920; 8 January 1921; 23 April, 7 May, 14 May 1921.


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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