To mark the centenary of the First World War, Historic England set out to dramatically increase the number of memorials on the National Heritage List for England. As a result of this, Fawkham’s war memorial was listed in 2020.
Discussions on how to commemorate the losses appropriately began during the war itself. Ordinary soldiers had been named on memorials for previous conflicts such as the Boer Wars, but the aftermath of the First World War marked the first time that memorialisation of all ranks was carried out on such a scale. This was the result of many factors, including the unprecedented scale of the loss and, from 1916 onwards, the widespread use of conscription. However, the key to the unparalleled construction of memorials was the declaration by the British government in March 1915 that repatriation of the dead would no longer be permitted. This created a lack of gravesides at which to mourn so instead communities created collective monuments as a focal point where they could come together and share the burden of grief.
Each community was responsible for memorialising their own dead, resulting in a rich and diverse choice of memorials. It is estimated there are more than 9,000 free-standing war memorials in England. Ours in Fawkham is one such memorial. It stands as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of the war.
- The memorial consists of a rough-hewn Cornish granite Latin cross rising from a tapering plinth set on a York stone square base.
- The east face of the plinth is inset and bears the following inscription in raise lead lettering: “This cross is placed here in order that we may never forget [the names of the seven fallen] of this parish who died for our country 1914-18”. Biographical notes on those commemorated can be found here: The fallen.
- An inset square panel has been carved on the same face at the base of the cross; this bears the inscription: George William Booker 1939-45.
- The memorial is surrounded by a floral border enclosed within concrete post and chain fencing.
- The war memorial border is maintained by both the parish council and the kind work of a volunteer who resides close by.
- In 2018, the name of one of the fallen was corrected, by removing the letter ‘e’ from ‘Clark’. This was undertaken at the request of Horace Clark’s family, who attended the service at the war memorial on November 11th that year, held to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the war. They placed a photo of him in uniform on the memorial as a tribute to his sacrifice. May he rest in peace.
- It is hoped that from 2020 knitted and crocheted poppies will be used to decorate the war memorial each year. If you are able to make some poppies, there are some patterns here.
- To mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on May 8th 2020, decorated VE Day rocks were placed at the memorial, and also by a tree which was planted in the churchyard in commemoration. The rocks formed part of a competition, judged by Adele Barker the Priest-in-Charge, and a selection is shown below. More photos can be seen in the Fawkham Rocks gallery.