In the aftermath of the First World War, the people of Britain needed a focus for their grief, loss and pride. War memorials were erected across the UK in the greatest wave of remembrance this nation has ever seen. They form an important part of our rich cultural heritage and connect us with the global conflict that shaped the world we live in today. They provide insight into the changing face of commemoration as well as artistic, social, local, military and international history.
Who has created the UK War Memorials website and why?
UK War Memorials has been created with support from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It provides a single place where everyone can find information from all the major national organisations involved in the recording, conservation and listing of war memorials as well as those who provide expertise, access to funding and ways to get involved.
What is a war memorial?
Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) memorials exist in order to officially record servicemen and women who died during the designated war years in service, or of causes attributable to service, and have no known grave or were buried or lost at sea.
Other war memorials can be any tangible object which has been erected or dedicated to commemorate war, conflict, victory or peace; or casualties who served in, were affected by or killed as a result of war, conflict or peacekeeping; or those who died as a result of accident or disease whilst engaged in military service.
Read the full description of what objects are recorded by IWM’s War Memorials Register.
IWM’s War Memorials Register (WMR) uses this definition to help the public and organisations identify a shared understanding of what is meant by a war memorial. Other organisations may only fund, list or identify certain types or categories of war memorial.
- memorials located in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man
- memorials to conflicts from any point in history to the present day
- memorials that commemorate the impact or acts of war, conflict or victory
- memorials that record thanksgiving for the safe return of individuals, the coming of peace or the prevention of war
- dedications that have been added to other gravestones which commemorate a war casualty buried elsewhere
- memorials that commemorate the service, return or death of military personnel during war, conflict or peacetime irrespective of the cause of death, as well as deaths after the end of the conflict as a result of wounds or the effects of war
- memorials that commemorate the wartime service or death of civilians serving in non-combatant organisations
- memorials that commemorate civilians, including refugees and internees who suffered or died as a result of enemy action or in a war related accident as well as a consequence of war or conflict
- memorials to the service, suffering and death of animals during wartime
WMR does not record:
- memorials located outside the UK, Channel island and Isle of Man, even if they commemorate British citizens
- headstones, grave-markers or memorials marking the place of burial or official commemoration of an individual or group of people killed as a result of war or conflict (including any grave, Memorial to the Missing, Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance that is the responsibility of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission)
- houses, buildings or artefacts (e.g. medals) associated with people who died, served or suffered in war but which have no dedication as a memorial to that wartime experience
- plaques, badges, medals or symbols recognising the existence of military units solely as units but not representing their active service or a war/conflict role
- commemorations to those who had once served in the armed forces or in a civilian non-combatant organisation during wartime but whose death occurred subsequently and was not a result of their service
- dedication plaques marking wartime non-military campaigns or activities
- memorials, plaques, badges or symbols at the birth place, home or to the life of a well-known individual not dedicated to their wartime service
- published or mass produced rolls of honour
- individual horticultural elements within a larger horticulture setting
- official items such as Next of Kin Memorial Plaques (known as Dead Man’s Pennies), scrolls or service medals
- body art or body parts
- any intangible items such as events created in memory of conflict such as charity runs
What do you mean by ‘erected or dedicated’?
To be considered a memorial the object must have a clearly defined and stated commemorative purpose. This purpose can be expressed in the wording on the memorial itself or in a printed document, or it might be a newspaper announcement. A formal unveiling ceremony need not have taken place, although these are very common.
What types of events do you include within the terms ‘conflict’ or ‘war’?
Conflict/war includes formally declared states of war, armed conflict, civil war, rebellion and acts of terrorism. None of those organisations party to this definition neither makes any judgment on conflicts nor promotes any political or other viewpoint associated with either specific conflicts or the general principle of conflict.
What do you mean by military service?
Military service refers to service in any of the armed forces during war, conflict or peacetime and the subsequent return home as well as deaths after the end of the conflict as a result of wounds or the effects of war.
Do you include civilian commemorations? WMA includes commemorations to civilians
- who served in wartime non-combatant services including, but not exclusive to Merchant Marine Service, Red Cross, Home Guard, Air Raid Wardens, Fire Watchers and similar groups involved with a war effort.
- whose death occurred as a result of enemy action or in a war related accident as well as a consequence of war or conflict
What do you mean by ‘published roll of honour’?
Unique items such as a handwritten or printed scroll or illustrated book are recorded by WMA. Published rolls of honour where many copies were produced are not recorded.
What do you mean by ‘individual horticultural elements’?
Where specific planting of trees, hedging or flowers has taken place to form a memorial garden or arboretum, WMA would record the memorial as a whole. For example an avenue of trees will be recorded as a single memorial even if each tree has a separate dedication. However, if a tree is planted in isolation to any other elements, for example it is a war memorial tree in a council park the individual tree will be recorded.
Can any object be a war memorial?
Any tangible object can, in theory, be a war memorial but it must commemorate war, conflict, victory or peace and have a clearly intended memorial purpose. Non-tangible objects, e.g. a charity run in memory of a casualty, would not be considered to be a war memorial. The national organisations involved in the recording, conservation and listing of war memorials have an agreed definition that they use.
What forms can a war memorial take?
A war memorial can take many forms including but not limited to:
- Sculpted figures, crosses, obelisks, cenotaphs, columns, etc
- Boards, plaques and tablets (inside or outside a building)
- Roll of Honour or Book of Remembrance
- Community halls, hospitals, bus shelters, clock towers, streets etc
- Church fittings like bells, pews, lecterns, lighting, windows,altars, screens, candlesticks, etc
- Trophies and relics like a preserved gun or the wreckage at an aircraft crash site
- Land, including parks, gardens, playing fields and woodland
- Additions to gravestones (but not graves)
Who owns a war memorial?
Ownership or custodianship of a war memorial can be very complex. The majority of local war memorials were originally overseen by a committee, which was usually wound up once the memorial was dedicated. Some individuals, associations, regiments or companies or their legal successors, have retained ownership. However, often there was no provision for future care and many local authorities have taken on responsibility. Parish Minutes or the online lists of trusts/charities from the Charity Commission in England and Wales, from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator or the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, may indicate if ownership has been formally transferred at any time. War Memorials Trust has further information to guide you in identifying ownership and the legal position around war memorials.
What information is included on a war memorial?
Each war memorial can take a different approach so there is no standard amount or pattern of information. Some memorials represent a collective and do not list individuals, e.g. The Cenotaph. Others may provide a list with minimal information, e.g. Rank, Initials, Surname. Some include many more details, including a full name, service number and unit and whether they died or served and returned.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials exist in order to officially record the names of dead who have no known grave or those buried or lost at sea and so always record names and units. Some display dates of death but this depends on the design of the individual memorial.
What wars are commemorated on war memorials in the UK?
There are war memorials in the UK commemorating events from the 7th Century onwards, but the majority date from the First World War. The term ‘war’ can include wars, uprisings, emergencies or conflicts, civil wars, rebellion and acts of terrorism whether or not war was formally declared.
Why do some memorials have the dates 1914-1919 or 1921, rather than 1914-1918 inscribed on them?
Many communities considered the First World War to be over when the Armistice was agreed (11 November 1918), when the Peace Treaty of Versailles was signed (28 June 1919) or when Parliament officially declared the war ended (31 August 1921). Some British troops continued to serve during the 1920s in the Army of Occupation in Germany, in Palestine or in North Russia so some war memorials may use other dates that are relevant to them.
Why are there war memorials to animals?
War memorials represent the diversity of people’s experiences of war and conflict and this includes their wish to commemorate the role of animals and those that were killed, or gave assistance or companionship, in war or conflict.
How reliable and accurate is the information inscribed on war memorials?
It is possible that mistakes were made when information was collected and then inscribed. However what may now appear to be a mistake may have been a deliberate choice at the time. Families may not have wanted to include the name of relatives listed as ‘missing in action’. Individuals may be commemorated on a war memorial where they had no personal connection but where their only surviving family member lived. Nicknames might have been used or an incorrect spelling of a name might occur if there was no family to check with when the memorial was built.
What is an addition to a gravestone?
It is quite common for an additional dedication to commemorate a wartime casualty to be added to the head stone, grave kerbs or memorial of another family member. Where the wartime casualty is buried elsewhere, the addition to the gravestone is considered to be a war memorial. If the gravestone marks the burial place of the wartime casualty then it is a grave and would not be considered a war memorial.
Which countries are included when you refer to UK War Memorials?
UK War Memorials covers England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which make up the United Kingdom, plus the Crown Territories of the Isle of Man, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
Do you have any information about war memorials outside the UK?
The responsibility of IWM’s War Memorials Register is the recording of war memorials within the UK, Channel Islands and Isle or Man so there are no records for memorials elsewhere.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for the war graves and official Memorials to the Missing of British and Commonwealth war dead of the First and Second World Wars in some 153 countries and so provide information about their memorials which are in the UK and around the world.
How can I find out more about the history of my local memorial?
There are a number of potential sources, particularly for war memorials erected after 1900: Search IWM’s War Memorials Register for information and references; check War Memorials Online for the condition of the memorial; to see if there is any designation look at the Historic Environment Record. Ask your Local or Family History Society if they have already carried out any research and your Record Office or Local History Centre if they hold Committee minutes and plans. Local newspapers often reported on every stage of the story of a war memorial from its inception to its unveiling. If the war memorial is on Church property then Church records, including faculties, i.e. church planning permission, may provide detail about the erection of the memorial. Try asking if local people have retained any records.
How can I find out more about a memorial park or garden?
Many communities chose to commemorate those who served and fell through the creation of a memorial park or garden. Some of the finest examples in England are included on Historic England’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. A UK-wide gazetteer of examples is being compiled by Parks & Gardens UK.
Where do I find a list of all the war memorials in the UK?
Most war memorials were established at a local level and there has never been any requirement to ‘register’ a war memorial with any central authority. The aim of IWM’s War Memorials Register is to create a complete list of all war memorials in the UK, including those now lost. At present (November 2014) there are over 66,000 entries on the database and a public recording programme during the centenary will help identify the remaining war memorials. Search all the records.
War Memorials Online is seeking to create a greater understanding of the condition of war memorials in the UK and is developing a condition record.
What is a ‘lost’ memorial?
Where there is evidence, e.g. a photograph or newspaper report, that a war memorial existed but it has subsequently been stolen or its location is no longer known then it will be recorded by IWM’s War Memorials Register as ‘lost’. As such it will only have a previous location, not a current one.
Who is considered to be a war casualty in the context of war memorials?
War casualties commemorated on non-CWGC war memorials can include military personnel, civilians and animals who were affected by or killed as a result of war, conflict or peacekeeping; or those who died as a result of accident or disease whilst engaged in military service. They may recognise the service, return or death of military personnel during war, conflict or peacetime irrespective of the cause of death, as well as deaths after the end of the conflict as a result of wounds or the effects of war; the wartime service or death of civilians serving in non-combatant organisations; civilians, including refugees and internees who suffered or died as a result of enemy action or in a war related accident as well as a consequence of war or conflict; the service, suffering and death of animals during wartime.
Who is considered a war casualty by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission?
As the official record of Commonwealth war dead of the two world wars, the definition under which the Commonwealth War Graves Commission does its work has to be precise: CWGC memorials bear the names of servicemen and women who died during the designated war years in service or of causes attributable to service and have no known grave or were buried or lost at sea. For the First World War the dates are 4 August 1914 to 31 August 1921.
Do war memorials only commemorate the people who died?
There are many different events or groups of people who may be commemorated on a war memorial, not just those who were killed on active service. War memorials can commemorate war, conflict, victory or peace; or casualties who served in, were affected by or killed as a result of war, conflict or peacekeeping; or those who died as a result of accident or disease whilst engaged in military service. Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials commemorate only those who died whilst serving during the two world wars.
Who decided who should be commemorated on a war memorial?
Usually the organising committee determined who they wished to commemorate. Criteria might limit it to those killed or include those who had served and returned. Strict geographical boundaries or membership records might be applied. Sometimes a financial donation was required. Some committees were flexible and open to individual requests. Whatever their choice, there was no central list so information had to be collected door-to-door or by post, through church or local press announcements or by word of mouth. The reasons for decisions and the process of information gathering is often now lost. Local newspapers or Parish Meeting minutes may describe discussions. For official Memorials to the Missing, the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission received instructions and casualty information from the relevant military authorities and governments.
Where will I find someone commemorated?
An individual can be commemorated in many different places. If they died in the First or Second World Wars while serving with the forces of the Commonwealth they will be officially commemorated in a war grave or on a Memorial to the Missing maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Search the CWGC’s online casualty database to locate their grave or memorial.
As well as their official point of commemoration, servicemen and women may be commemorated in several other places. They may be named on a war memorial in the community where they lived, or commemorated in the place where they were born or had family, where they went to school, college or university, at their place of work or on a military unit memorial. Other aspects of their life might be also be reflected, e.g. membership of a sports club, religious group or professional body.
How can I find out which war memorial someone is commemorated on?
IWM’s War Memorials Register is compiling an index to the names from the First World War that appear on war memorials across the UK. It is hoped to make the first version of the index available to the public online in 2015 with regular updates throughout the Centenary years. Whilst the work to create the index is ongoing it is not possible for individual name searches to be carried out. For First and Second World War dead, you can search the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s online casualty database to find out where someone is officially commemorated, which might be in the UK or overseas.
How can I find out more about a name on a war memorial?
Details about the burial or commemoration of casualties from the First and Second World Wars are listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission casualty database.
IWM’s Lives of the First World War has a personal Life Story page for each individual to which information may already have been added. It also provides access to essential official records including service records, census and births, marriages and deaths which may help with your research.
Am I likely to find someone commemorated by name on a war memorial before 1900?
Before 1900 it is very unusual for Other Ranks to be commemorated by name on a war memorial although there are some examples dating from the Afghan and Sikh wars (1840′s) and the Crimean War (1853-1856). Officers, who tended to be from wealthier families, may have personal memorials containing detailed family information as well as being named on regimental memorials.
Am I likely to find someone commemorated by name on a war memorial after 1900?
After 1900 it is more likely that both Other Ranks and officers will be commemorated by name on a war memorial. A number of factors from the Cardwell reforms of the army in the 1870s, which linked communities with local regiments, to the magnitude of losses in the First World War, resulted in a vast number of memorials and shrines being erected across the country in the largest public arts project ever seen in the UK. Memorials began to commemorate not just those who died but also those who served and returned and with the advent of total war civilian casualties are also recorded. Foreign nationals may also be commemorated on war memorials in the UK.
Who is commemorated on a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) memorial?
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) was founded in 1917 and commemorates some 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died in the two world wars. More than 935,000 identified casualties and almost 212,000 unidentified individuals are buried in graves marked with a CWGC headstone. The names of almost 760,000 people whose bodies have never been recovered or cannot be identified can be found on the official Memorials to the Missing. More than 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action during the Second World War are listed on a roll of honour, housed near St George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey, London.
How can I find out which Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) memorial someone is commemorated on?
You can search the CWGC casualty database for free online. You can search by name and discover where an individual is either buried or commemorated by name on a memorial across 23,000 sites in some 153 countries.
Where can I find service records for individuals who served before 1920?
There are many different sets of service records for those who served and either died or left military service from approx 1760-1920, depending on which service they served with and whether they were an officer or other rank. The originals are held by The National Archives (TNA). Many have been digitised and can be viewed online either through TNA or other genealogy sites.
Where can I find service records for individuals who served after 1920?
For confidentiality reasons the records of those who served after 1921 are still held by the relevant branch of the UK forces. A copy can be requested by the individual themselves, or if they are deceased by their next of kin. Information and applications forms are available for each of the different services.
Where can I find details of post-1945 casualties?
You can search the Armed Forces Roll of Honour by name and/or service number and find their date of death. However there may not be any information about where the person came from. Local newspapers may include obituaries of those killed on active service.
Is there any UK Government funding to support the protection of war memorials during the First World War Centenary?
In December 2013 the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP announced that £5m would be made available during the First World War Centenary to support the recording, conservation and listing of war memorials across the UK. It will support projects by Civic Voice, Historic England, IWM’s War Memorials Register and War Memorials Trust.
What should I consider before I start fundraising?
It’s important to establish what you want to achieve. Does the war memorial need cleaning, conservation, repairs or restoration? Do you want to encourage community involvement with the war memorial? Depending on your objective there may be funding available. You can find out about the major funding organisations and schemes on this site. See what conditions apply to each grant scheme and seek advice from the relevant organisation.
Where can I apply for funds to build a new war memorial?
Before deciding that a new memorial is needed, check to see if the group of people you wish to commemorate are already represented on an exisiting memorial. There has never been national funding for building war memorials; any group planning a new memorial will need to consider fundraising, the purchase of land, agreement with the relevant community, future ownership and maintenance agreements etc. If your project is part of a wider programme to help people understand their past, then the Heritage Lottery Fund may be able to help.
Where can I apply for funds for the conservation, repair or restoration of a war memorial anywhere in the UK?
War Memorials Trust works to protect and conserve war memorials in the UK and administers grant schemes to support repair and conservation works. It administers a number of different grant schemes including one-off additional government funding through the centenary for First World War memorials. Grants range from £1 to £30,000 up to 75% of project costs depending on the scheme. Maintenance is not funded as this is the responsibility of the custodian. Heritage Lottery Fund also has a number of funding programmes.
Where can I apply for funds for the maintenance or conservation of an addition to a gravestone?
The maintenance or conservation of an addition to a gravestone can be a very complex matter because of issues such as family ownership and the presence of human remains. Advice is provided by Historic England and Historic Scotland. War Memorials Trust do not provide funding for work on additions to gravestones.
Where can I apply for funds for a local First World War Centenary project?
Heritage Lottery Fund: First World War: then and now provides grants of £3,000–£10,000 for projects that present new perspectives of the war and bring to light previously untold stories. Historic Scotland also support non-recurring heritage related events through their Historic Environment Support Fund.
Where can I apply for funds to learn about or interpret a war memorial?
Where can I apply for funds for a heritage project, e.g. restoring a war memorial?
The Heritage Lottery Fund and War Memorials Trust can fund groups and communities to conserve the war memorials they care about, while helping more people to engage with them. HLF has suggestions on exploring or conserving First World War heritage, including war memorials at Understanding the First World War.
Where can I apply for funds to engage young people and volunteers in exploring UK heritage?
A number of Heritage Lottery Fund grant programmes can support projects which involve young people in exploring war memorial heritage. The Young Roots programme offers grant of £10,000-£50,000 specifically to help young people aged 11 to 25 to explore their heritage. Historic Scotland supports organisations who work with volunteers for projects that last up to 3 years through Voluntary Sector Funding.
Where can I apply for funds for a very large project, e.g. rescuing an historic building?
Heritage Lottery Fund: The Heritage Grants open programme is for any larger type of project related to national, regional or local heritage in the UK. Grants over £100,000 could help you rescue an historic building, breathe new life into a collection, set up an archaeological dig or help people learn long-lost traditional skills. Historic Scotland provide support for major high quality repairs and restoration (not maintenance) to buildings of historic interest in Scotland through their Building Repair Grants. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency provides grant-aid of up to £150,000 (up to 35% of repair costs) to fund repairs to listed buildings.
Where can I apply for funds for the conservation, repair or restoration of a war memorial in England?
In England, there are several grant schemes available tor war memorials of all types, funded by Historic England, the Wolfson Foundation, the Government and War Memorials Trust. Applications are all managed by War Memorials Trust for grants for a maximum of 75% of the eligible costs – anything between £300 and £30,000 (and even more in exceptional cases). For more information, see War Memorials Trust’s website
The Small Grants Scheme currently offers grants of up to 50% eligible costs at a maximum grant of £2,500. The scheme is open to all types of war memorials of all dates. Special larger grants can be made on occasion.
The Heritage Lottery Fund also supports groups and communities in England to run projects to mark the centenary of the First World War. This can also include conservation and repair of war memorials.
Where can I apply for funds for the conservation, repair or restoration of a war memorial in Northern Ireland?
In Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency is responsible for recording and protecting Northern Ireland’s built heritage, including war memorials. It provides grant-aid of up to £150,000 (up to 35% of repair costs) to fund repairs to listed buildings. If a memorial is listed then it may be eligible.
War Memorials Trust administers the Small Grants Scheme which currently offers grants of up to 50% eligible costs at a maximum grant of £2,500. The scheme is open to all types of war memorials of all dates. Special larger grants can be made on occasion. A number of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant programmes can fund also groups and communities in Northern Ireland to conserve the war memorials they care about.
Where can I apply for funds for the conservation, repair or restoration of a war memorial in Scotland?
In Scotland, the Scottish Government’s Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund is providing £1million from 2013 to 2018, to restore all types of war memorials in Scotland. Applications can be made for grants for a maximum of 75% of the eligible costs of up to £30,000 for all types of war memorials irrespective of the conflict they commemorate. Historic Scotland’s Technical Conservation Group support conservation training costs of up to £1,000 with their Conservation Training Grants Scheme. Major high quality repairs and restoration (not maintenance) to buildings of historic interest may qualify for Building Repair Grants and there is also support available through the Ancient Monuments Grants for monuments that are not inhabited buildings or those in ecclesiastical use. A number of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant programmes can also fund groups and communities in Scotland to conserve the war memorials they care about.
Where can I apply for funds for the conservation, repair or restoration of a war memorial in Wales?
In Wales, Cadw’s Grants for War Memorials offer funding to help safeguard memorials for future generations by repairing and conserving them. Applications can be made for grants for a maximum of 70% of the eligible costs of up to £10,000 for all types of war memorials. War Memorials Trust is working with Cadw to offer additional grants in certain circumstances. All enquiries should go through Cadw. A number of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant programmes can also fund groups and communities in Wales to conserve the war memorials they care about.
Where can I apply for funds for the conservation, repair or restoration of a war memorial in the Channel Islands or Isle of Man?
War Memorials Trust administers the Small Grants Scheme which currently offers grants of up to 50% eligible costs at a maximum grant of £2,500. The scheme is open to all types of war memorials of all dates. Special larger grants can be made on occasion.
Will the costs of any work on a war memorial be subject to VAT?
It will depend on different factors such as whether the work is to the existing fabric of a memorial or for new works. The Customs and Excise VAT Notice 708: Buildings and Construction (August 2014) is a useful guide and HM Revenue and Customs have a national advice service helpline on 0845 010 9000 or visit www.hmrc.gov.uk
Can I reclaim any of the VAT paid for work on a war memorial?
The Memorials Grant Scheme allows charities and faith groups to claim, as a grant, the equivalent of the VAT paid on the eligible costs of erecting, maintaining or repairing public memorials. The scheme is administered by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for the whole of the UK. The scheme is due to end in 2015.
What is the difference between cleaning, conservation, repair and restoration?
Each memorial presents a unique set of circumstances and materials so assessing what is needed has to be done on a case-by-case basis. Cleaning might be required if the visual appearance of the war memorial has deteriorated over time, e.g. as a result of traffic pollution or overhanging vegetation. However, over-cleaning can cause more damage then leaving it as it is, so this is a sensitive area that needs to be carefully considered. Conservation might include cleaning, but will also address any issues affecting the future condition of the memorial, e.g. repairing flaking mortar, which if left untreated could lead to other problems. If elements of the memorial are broken or damaged, then repairs would be necessary. If the memorial’s condition has deteriorated in a number of areas and/or components are damaged or lost then restoration would return it to as close to its original state as possible.
Who is responsible for the maintenance of a war memorial?
The committees who erected war memorials often did not consider long term care and maintenance. Therefore today a war memorial may not have anyone responsible for its upkeep. Many Local Authorities/Councils have a nominated War Memorials Officer who will know who the owners or custodians are and who is responsible for the maintenance of the war memorials in the local area. The War Memorials (Local Authorities) Act 1948 gives the power, but does not impose a duty, on the local authority (Civic or Parish Councils) to maintain those memorials that do not have an ownership body. It gives them the power to adapt, move and restore memorials and to make corrections and additions, e.g. to commemorate subsequent conflicts on an existing memorial. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is responsible for the mainenance of its war graves and memorials to the missing, both in the UK and overseas.
How do I know if a war memorial needs cleaning, conservation, repair, restoration or maintenance?
War Memorials Trust works to protect and conserve war memorials in the UK and provides free advice and guidance to anyone on all war memorials related issues. The Trust’s Conservation Team can assist you in assessing a memorial’s condition and taking the appropriate steps to address any problems. You can also submit concerns about the condition of a war memorial through War Memorials Online which will enable War Memorials Trust to review issues.
Historic England publish guidance online on the The Conservation, Repair and Management of War Memorials. In partnership with War Memorials Trust, the Garden History Society and Historic Scotland they also offer guidance on Conserving and Managing Memorial Landscapes. The repair and maintenance of war memorials is available online from Historic Scotland and Caring for War Memorials in Wales by Cadw.
Is it ok for me to clean a war memorial?
Using inappropriate materials or techniques can cause long term damage. Although light cleaning of sound stone with a bristle brush (non-metallic) and clean water is unlikely to cause damage, it is strongly recommended that any other cleaning of a war memorial should only be carried out by experienced craftsmen or conservators. The Institute of Conservation has a register of conservation specialists and the Building Conservation Directory is a useful resource for conservation products and services.
For advice online see The Conservation, Repair and Management of War Memorials, by Historic England; The repair and maintenance of war memorials from Historic Scotland and Caring for War Memorials in Wales by Cadw.
As part of the First World War Centenary commemorations Civic Voice, Historic England and War Memorials Trust are working in partnership to train volunteers to look after their local war memorial.
Do I need to get permission before I clean, conserve, repair or restore a war memorial?
You should always contact the owner or custodian of a war memorial before attempting to carry out any work. Check the IWM’s War Memorials Register database, War Memorials Online and your local council. The memorial may also be protected by certain statutory designations, notably listing, which might require special permissions. Check your National Heritage List to be sure.
What should I consider when planning the upkeep of a war memorial?
An accurate record of the war memorial as it is now and a knowledge of its history are essential. They will enable you to make decisions if any future repairs or replacements are required. An assessment of the current condition will help you consider what immediate works might be required as well as plan a longer term schedule of regular maintenance. Always keep the local community up to date with your plans.
How do I find the right professional to undertake work on a war memorial?
The Institute of Conservation provides advice about how to choose a conservator or restorer from their register of conservation specialists. The Institute of Historic Building Conservation is another professional body for specialists.
The Conservation, Repair and Management of War Memorials, by Historic England, The repair and maintenance of war memorials from Historic Scotland and War Memorials in Wales: Technical Guidance by Cadw all published online, include useful addresses.
How can I get involved in the cleaning, conservation, repair or restoration of war memorials?
You can become a volunteer: as part of the First World War Centenary commemorations Civic Voice, Historic England and War Memorials Trust are working in partnership to train volunteers to look after their local war memorial. Adding information about the condition of war memorials to War Memorials Online is another simple way of getting involved.
Where can I find advice on preventing war memorial related theft?
Historic England in partnership with War Memorials Trust and Historic Scotland have developed guidance on War Memorial Theft: Prevention and Solutions. The advice is also applicable in Wales.
In Memoriam 2014 is a partnership between War Memorials Trust and the SmartWater Foundation to support custodians in marking their war memorials and preventing theft.
Why would a war memorial be up for sale?
A war memorial may be offered for sale if the building or location in which it was located has been closed, demolished or changed purpose. If a new location cannot be found then it is possible the memorial will be offered for sale rather than left for disposal. Unfortunately war memorials or components of memorials may also be stolen and offered for sale.
What problems does the sale of war memorials cause?
It is generally beleived that war memorials are part of our national heritage and that they should be accessible by the public and not hold a commercial value. Whilst there may a legitimate reason for a war memorial being offered for sale, purchasing them encourages further sales. This increases the commercial value and can drive up theft.
What should I do if I see a war memorial for sale?
If you believe the war memorial for sale has been stolen, take down details of both the memorial and the vendor and report it to the police and/or inform War Memorials Trust. Not all war memorials offered for sale have been stolen. There can be legitimate reasons, e.g. if the vendor has rescued a memorial from destruction. Try and find out from them where the memorial was previously located and the circumstances under which they obtained it. Politely explain the issues that the sale of war memorials can cause and encourage them to find an appropriate new location.
How should I replace damaged, lost or stolen items from a war memorial?
When replacing components it is important to respect the historical integrity of the war memorial and the choices made by those who commissioned and designed it. Altering the materials used may change the interaction between components, causing different rates of weathering, aging and decay. Although some substitute materials may be cheaper to purchase, consider the need for replacement over a prolonged period. When replacing metal items there are precautions which can be taken to deter theft and vandalism. War Memorials Trust can provide further guidance and advise on how funding may be available to assist.
Why would a war memorial be re-located?
Ideally a war memorial should be preserved in its original location. However, re-location may be inevitable if it is at risk, e.g. if a building is due for closure or demolition, or an external location is no longer suitable because of road changes or development.
What factors should be considered when re-locating a war memorial?
Re-locating war memorials within churches or church yards will require advice from the Diocesan Advisory Committee and a faculty (planning approval from the Church authorities). The relocation of war memorials in other locations may still be subject to planning permission. The relocation of a listed memorial would require listed building consent.
Who do I tell if I’m worried that a planning application is putting a war memorial at risk?
Contact the local authority or respond to the relevant planning application with your concerns. Contact War Memorials Trust who may be able to provide advice or contact the relevant organisations to discuss the matter. If a war memorial at risk is freestanding it may be appropriate to investigate listing to offer protection.
Who do I tell if I’m worried that anti-social behaviour is putting a war memorial at risk?
Contact War Memorials Trust directly or report your concern through War Memorials Online (this can be done anonymously). If it is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) memorial in the UK, contact their UK office. Report the issue to your local police team. Heritage crime is a serious issue being addressed by organisations such as Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage (ARCH).
What different conditions might apply to war memorials in churches or churchyards?
Normally, listed building consent is required for any works which are considered by the local authority to affect the special architectural or historic interest of a listed building or structure. However, some religious denominations benefit from exemption where they have alternative controls in place.
Can I correct an error or ommission on a war memorial?
There can be many reasons for it to appear as though there is an error on a war memorial: names can be spelled in different ways, the person may have been commemorated elsewhere (e.g. their school, parish, regimental or company memorials), the family may not have wanted them included or not been able to afford a financial contribution. Before proposing a correction, you will need evidence that demonstrates an error has really been made. Decisions made by families and committees at the time may have been different to choices we would make today, so consider whether it is appropriate for you to make a change now.
Any decision will be made by the war memorial owner or custodian. If there is no clear owner, the local council has authority under the 1923 Local Authorities (War Memorials) Act. A church in custody can authorise some changes. Other factors may influence whether any change can be made, including whether a memorial is listed.
Who can add names to a war memorial?
Any decision on whether names are added or amended on a war memorial will be made by the war memorial owner or custodian. If there is no clear owner, the local council has authority under the 1923 Local Authorities (War Memorials) Act. A church in custody can authorise changes but may only consider the names of those who have died on active service. Other factors may influence whether any change can be made, including whether a memorial is listed.
Where can I report the condition of a war memorial?
What is meant by ‘Listing’?
Buildings and structures (including free-standing war memorials) designated as national heritage assets because they are of special architectural or historic interest, appear on the Statutory List. Listing gives legal protection from demolition and alterations that would destroy historic features or affect the character of the building or structure.
What is a Scheduled Monument?
A Scheduled Monument is a site of historical, architectural, artistic or archaelogical merit, which may be visible above ground and/or include remains of structures below current ground level or under the sea. They are protected for the long term against disturbance or unlicensed metal detecting. Some war memorials may be Scheduled Monuments.
Can any type of war memorial be Listed?
The rules for Listing vary by country, but in general any freestanding structure that complies with the statutory test that it is of ‘special architectural or historic interest’ can be listed. However, memorials fixed to a building, such as plaques or rolls of honour, would not be listed individually, but may be included if the whole building was listed. Structures such as hospitals or church halls that have been dedicated as war memorials are more likely to be judged on their special architectural interest, rather than on their status as war memorials.
In England, any kind of permanent building or structure more than 10 years old may be considered, so many, but not all, types of war memorial can be nominated for listing. Guidance is available from Historic England.
Why are only some war memorials Listed?
Although not every type of war memorial is eligible for Listing, many war memorials deserve to be added to the national heritage lists. Past listing surveys didn’t always identify war memorials and we now place greater importance on their significance. As part of the First World War Centenary commemorations, Historic England, in partnership with War Memorials Trust and Civic Trust, has launched a major initiative to list 500 war memorials in England each year until 2018.
In Northern Ireland, most civic war memorials are already listed. An ongoing resurvey of all historic buildings is adding extra information and new memorials to the list.
What is the difference between Grade II, Grade II* and Grade I Listing in England and Wales?
In England and Wales buildings, structures (including war memorials) parks and gardens designated as Grade I must be of ‘exceptional interest’. Those designated as Grade II* are ‘particularly important, of more than special interest’ and Grade II must be of ‘special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them’.
What is the difference between Category A, B and C Listings in Scotland and Northern Ireland?
In Scotland and Northern Ireland, Listing is by category with similar definitions. Category A is used for buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or fine examples of a particular period, style or building type with few alterations; B+ (Northern Ireland only) is for high quality buildings that because of exceptional features, interiors or environmental qualities are clearly above the general standard. B (B1 in Northern Ireland) are considered to be good examples of a particular period or style; C (B2 in Northern Ireland) is for those of local importance, lesser examples of any period, style, or building type.
How can I propose that a war memorial is given Listed status?
First check to see if the war memorial is already Listed. If the relevant Listing authority accepts new proposals, read their advice about any conditions that must be met and then make an application:
England: Listing, Advice, Application
Scotland: Listing, Advice, Application
Wales: Listing, Advice
Northern Ireland: Listing
Channel Islands -Jersey: Listing
Channel Islands -Guernsey: Listing
Isle of Man: Listing
How can I get involved in the listing of war memorials?
In England, you can become a volunteer with Historic England, War Memorials Trust and Civic Voice and take part in the First World War Centenary programme to list 500 war memorials each year until 2018.
Who does The Cenotaph in Whitehall commemorate?
The Cenotaph is the national memorial for the First (1914-1919) and Second (1939-1945) World Wars and commemorates the military dead of what was known during that time as the British Empire.
Is there a national memorial for those who have died in wars since 1945?
The Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire, commemorates all those who have died in service since the 1st of January 1948. As well as remembering those killed in conflict, it also lists the many servicemen and women who have died while on duty or been killed by terrorist action. There is also a searchable Roll of Honour which lists all the names on the memorial.
Can I add a plaque to a war memorial to mark the Centenary of the First World War?
Most organisations advise that plaques added to war memorials are limited to new names, either those who were not included originally or those who have served or died in subsequent conflicts. The Heritage Lottery Fund funds First World War-related community projects that might be considered as an alternative to adding a commemorative plaque.
What are Victoria Cross paving stones?
The Victoria Cross paving stones campaign is a UK wide initiative by the Department for Communities and Local Government to mark the First World War Centenary. A commemorative paving stone engraved with the Victoria Cross will be placed close to the birth place of all those individuals who were born in the UK who were conferred with the nation’s highest award for gallantry during the First World War. Those who were born outside the UK will be recognised either in a suitable location in the UK or in the home country. The paving stones are not considered to be war memorials.
Is there a standard ceremony I should use at a war memorial?
Although there are traditional elements which are often included in services held at a war memorial, organisers may choose to vary these depending on the purpose of the service and who will be present, e.g. if young people are involved it could be helpful to ask them to think about what would be meaningful to them. The Royal British Legion have a suggested Remembrance service. The Church of England also provide suggestions for a local community service held at a war memorial.
Who makes poppy wreaths?
How long can wreaths remain on a war memorial?
This depends on the nature of the site and the custodian. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) encourages non-permanent floral tributes, which staff remove when they are faded.
What is the National Memorial Arboretum?
The The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK’s national site of remembrance. It commemorates many specific groups including both civilian and military personnel who have died in the service of their country. It is the location for the Armed Forces Memorial for those who died from 1948 to the present day. The site is managed by the Royal British Legion.
Where can I find out more about the artists and craftsmen who designed and created war memorials?
A single war memorial may be a culmination of the contributions of multiple designers, artists and artisans. Mapping Sculpture holds information about less well-known artists and sculpturally-related businesses, including plaster cast makers and stone carvers. The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA) lists relevant war memorials and also publishes the 16-volume Public Sculpture of Britain describing history, work and materials with outline biographies of sculptors. The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds has a collection of sculptors’ papers, photos and drawings covering British sculptural practice. National collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Academy hold collections relating to exhibitions, architects and artists involved in the creation of war memorials, including those of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Where can I find out about First World War Centenary commemorative projects and events?
The First World War Centenary Partnership, led by Imperial War Museums (IWM), is a growing network of more than 3,000 not for profit organisations in 50 countries, organising a wide range of projects and events. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) provides details of events happening at their cemeteries and memorials.