Witton Gilbert War Memorial

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1467964
Date first listed:
13-Jan-2020
Statutory Address:
Junction of Briar Lea with Green Lea, off Sacriston Lane, Witton Gilbert, DH7 6RQ

Map

Ordnance survey map of Witton Gilbert War Memorial
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Location

Statutory Address:
Junction of Briar Lea with Green Lea, off Sacriston Lane, Witton Gilbert, DH7 6RQ

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

District:
County Durham (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Witton Gilbert
National Grid Reference:
NZ2361546303

Summary

A First World War memorial of 1922, by JG Burrell, with later additions for the Second World War, and relocated in 1978.

Reasons for Designation

Witton Gilbert War Memorial, a First World War memorial of 1922 by JG Burrell, with later additions for the Second World War, and relocated in 1978, 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:

* for the strong design interest of its St Cuthbert’s cross and the complex mouldings of its tapering octagonal column and square pedestal.

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 Witton Gilbert as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by 43 members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.

222 men from Witton Gilbert joined up to serve in the war, of whom nearly 20 per cent fell. The memorial was originally erected in the Graham Memorial Park in Witton Dene. It cost £400 which was raised by public subscription. The designer was JG Burrell of Durham. It was unveiled on Saturday 2 September 1922 by Lt Col JR Ritson, TD. Large numbers of representatives from parish and district organisations were also present.

The memorial park provided work for the unemployed but sadly suffered from vandalism even before the unveiling. After the Second World War the names of 10 casualties of that war were added. During the C20 much of the old village was demolished leaving the memorial somewhat isolated. It was relocated in 1978 by members of 105 Squadron, 72 Regiment the Royal Engineers with support from the local community, and rededicated on 5 November that year. It was unveiled in its new position by Capt D Brown and rededicated by Fr Ian Hoskins.

The memorial’s original height was 23 feet, but a photograph taken in its original location shows it had a three-stepped base. It is not clear if the lower step survives in the new location, but if so it is buried beneath the paving surrounding the memorial. The relocation revealed that the memorial comprised 28 pieces, the largest of which weighed 2,800 lbs (more than 1.2 tonnes).

The memorial was cleaned and the inscriptions recut in 2000.

Details

A First World War memorial of 1922, by JG Burrell, with later additions for the Second World War, and relocated in 1978.

MATERIALS: Stainton sandstone.

DESCRIPTION: standing in a small memorial garden accessed from Briar Lea, the memorial faces west and comprises a cross of St Cuthbert on a tapering octagonal column with a square pedestal set on two octagonal steps. The pedestal has stopped chamfers and a hollow-moulded, tapering top. The cross-shaft has an elaborate moulded foot with recessed panels to each face and a tetrahedral band. The abacus is also moulded, and the cross has a three-stepped octagonal foot.

The inscriptions are incised. Around the bottom of the cross-shaft foot is inscribed: GREATER/ LOVE/ HATH/ NO MAN/ THAN TO/ LAY DOWN/ HIS LIFE FOR/ HIS FRIEND.

The west face of the pedestal is inscribed: WITTON GILBERT WAR MEMORIAL/ ROLL OF HONOUR/ OF LOCAL HEROES WHO DIED/ FOR THEIR KING AND COUNTRY/ DURING THE GREAT WAR/ FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS/ LORD GRANT THEM EVERLASTING PEACE.

The rolls of honour are inscribed on the north and south faces. The names are listed by the year of death (which continue to 1920), then alphabetically by surname with rank and regiment. The east face is inscribed with the dates 1939 – 1945 and 10 names listed alphabetically by surname without ranks or units.

Sources

Websites
North East War Memorials Project, accessed 12 November 2019 from http://www.newmp.org.uk/detail.php?contentId=9194
War Memorials Online - Witton Gilbert, accessed 7 January 2020 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/233548/
War Memorials Register, Imperial War Museum - Witton Gilbert, accessed 7 January 2020 from https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/10252

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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