Taking Action to Protect South West War Memorials
Children in Bristol set out to protect their local war memorial
Children from a Henbury History Club helped to get Henbury War Memorial in Bristol listed Grade II as part of Historic England's national pledge to protect 2,500 memorials by 2018 to mark the centenary of the First World War.
When the memorial was unveiled on 25 March 1921, the vicar of St Mary Henbury said "each day, children appointed by the choir and the school would assume the position of guardians of the cross". 95 years later it felt appropriate that children from Henbury Court Primary Academy should take up the mantle of guardians of the memorial.
As part of Historic England’s Heritage Schools Programme the children, aged between seven and ten years old, investigated the story of the memorial and recorded the names of the men whose sacrifice it commemorates. They undertook a condition survey of the memorial, recording the state of repair of the stonework and noting the shape of the structure and the materials it's made from.
Back in the classroom the children used the Commonwealth War Graves website to research some more about the men on the memorial and were also supplied with some photographs of the men by local historian Jan Vaughan. The children finished their project by writing a persuasive letter to Historic England outlining their reasons why they felt the memorial should be listed. It was added to the National Heritage List for England in April 2017.
The war memorial in the churchyard of St Mary, Henbury, is an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice local people made in the conflicts of the 20th century. It's a simple yet imposing wheel-head cross carved in a local stone and because it has not been adapted for Second World War commemoration, it retains its original design intent.
Inspired by the Henbury History Club project?
Get involved! Help protect the South West's war memorials by 2018.
Built by communities in the years following the conflict, memorials are a poignant, physical reminder of the sacrifices and loss the First World War brought about. One hundred years on, it's time to come together again to ensure our memorials are in good condition, and recognised and protected by listing where appropriate.