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Thornley War Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Wolsingham, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.7308 / 54°43'51"N

Longitude: -1.8237 / 1°49'25"W

OS Eastings: 411452

OS Northings: 537331

OS Grid: NZ114373

Mapcode National: GBR HFPQ.ZX

Mapcode Global: WHC4S.YCR3

Entry Name: Thornley War Memorial

Listing Date: 7 December 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1440578

Location: Wolsingham, County Durham, DL13

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Wolsingham

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham

Church of England Parish: Thornley

Church of England Diocese: Durham

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First World War memorial, unveiled 1921, with later additions for the Second World War.


The memorial stands at the centre of a grassy triangle in the road junction opposite the former Schoolhouse (not listed). It is an adaptation of Sir Reginald Blomfield’s Cross of Sacrifice designed for the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission, c5m tall, and built in Heworth stone.

The front face of the tall cross is ornamented with a reversed sword in bronze. The cross shaft rises from an octagonal pedestal, which stands on a broader octagonal base that has an overhang for the placement of wreaths. The whole stands on a broad base of three shallow steps, enclosed by railings.

The principal dedicatory inscription to the front face of the pedestal reads IN/ THANKSGIVING/ TO GOD/ FOR VICTORY/ AND/ TO THE/ MEMORY OF/ OUR VALIANT/ DEAD/ 1914-1918. The commemorated names are listed on the adjacent faces, whilst the two commemorated Second World War names are recorded to the rear.

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, 24 February 2017.


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: therefore the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss. One such memorial was raised at Thornley as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.

The memorial was unveiled in November 1921 by Mrs Humphreys and dedicated by the venerable AP Derry, Archdeacon of Auckland. It commemorates eight local servicemen who died in the First World War. Three of those commemorated were sons of Reverend HJ Humphreys, vicar of Thornley, who conducted the ecumenical service. The memorial was provided by Messrs W Ayton and Sons of Blackhill: its bronze sword was presented by Lt-Col GH Stobart. Following the Second World War the names of two men who died in that conflict were added. The memorial was re-dedicated on 30 October 2005.

W Ayton and Sons were also responsible for other war memorials in the region including those at Greencroft, Burnopfield, and Leadgate (all Grade II-listed).

Reasons for Listing

Thornley War Memorial, which stands in the road junction adjacent to the former Schoolhouse, 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 sensitive adaption of Sir Reginald Blomfield’s Cross of Sacrifice.

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