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Wheatley Hill War Memorial Cross

A Grade II Listed Building in Wheatley Hill, County Durham

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.7422 / 54°44'32"N

Longitude: -1.4158 / 1°24'56"W

OS Eastings: 437709

OS Northings: 538742

OS Grid: NZ377387

Mapcode National: GBR LFKL.8T

Mapcode Global: WHD64.722C

Entry Name: Wheatley Hill War Memorial Cross

Listing Date: 14 February 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1441696

Location: Wheatley Hill, County Durham, DH6

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Wheatley Hill

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Wheatley Hill

Church of England Diocese: Durham

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Summary

First World War memorial cross, with later additions for the Second World War. Re-located and re-dedicated 2005.

Description

MATERIALS: granite memorial cross.

DESCRIPTION: the memorial stands outside the former mortuary chapel (not listed, now Wheatley Hill Heritage Centre) of Wheatley Hill Cemetery. It takes the form of a c3.5m tall rough-hewn granite wheel-head cross. A reversed sword is carved in low relief to the front face of the cross. The cross shaft rises from a tapering granite plinth. The principal dedicatory inscription to the front face of the plinth reads IN/ MEMORY OF/ THOSE OF THIS VILLAGE/ WHO DIED IN THE GREAT WAR/ 1914 – 1918/ ALSO/ 1939 – 1945. The plinth stands on a single granite step.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: either side of the memorial cross, two polished granite pillars record the commemorated names. To the front of the memorial, a square kerbed area filled with stone chippings includes a small stone inscribed “WHEN YOU GO HOME, TELL THEM OF US/ AND SAY – FOR YOUR TOMORROWS/ WE GAVE OUR TODAY.” These structures are excluded from the listing.


This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 22 February 2017.

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

Wheatley Hill was the pit village serving Wheatley Hill colliery. The colliery opened in 1869 and closed in 1968. At a public meeting held in October 1935, residents of Wheatley Hill decided to spend the war memorial fund on a memorial cross, to be erected in the Miners’ Welfare Park. Following the Second World War the dedication was amended to mark the loss of those local servicemen who fell in that conflict. Two metal plaques were later fixed to the front of the memorial’s plinth recording these names.

Those plaques were originally on an exterior wall of Wheatley Hill Boys’ School, associated with a memorial clock (the clock is now in the Wheatley Hill Heritage Centre). Two small stone walls were also built to either side of the memorial cross, one carrying a similar metal plaque recording the names of two men who died in the Korean War.

Standing outside the Pavilion close to the facilities of the Recreation Ground, the memorial cross was subject to vandalism. It was moved c360m to the S to stand beside the former mortuary and chapel in Wheatley Hill Cemetery (the unlisted chapel is now Wheatley Hill Heritage Centre). Here it was re-dedicated on 22 May 2005. The two metal plaques on the plinth were removed and the two small stone walls replaced: new stone pillars recording 209 First World War servicemen, 21 Second World War servicemen, and the two Korean War casualties, were erected either side of the cross. The ensemble was unveiled by Mr Jack Hill, President of the Wheatley Hill Royal British Legion Branch, and dedicated by Father Martin Vazey and Father Gary Dickson.

Reasons for Listing

Wheatley Hill War Memorial Cross, which stands in Wheatley Hill Cemetery, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this local community, and the sacrifice it has made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Architectural interest: a simple yet bold example of a wheel-head cross in the Celtic style.

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