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Simpson War Memorial Obelisk

A Grade II Listed Building in Simpson, Milton Keynes

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0171 / 52°1'1"N

Longitude: -0.7146 / 0°42'52"W

OS Eastings: 488308

OS Northings: 236190

OS Grid: SP883361

Mapcode National: GBR D0K.D64

Mapcode Global: VHDT7.KKLJ

Entry Name: Simpson War Memorial Obelisk

Listing Date: 6 September 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1458590

Location: Simpson and Ashland, Milton Keynes, MK6

County: Milton Keynes

Civil Parish: Simpson and Ashland

Built-Up Area: Milton Keynes

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Summary

First World War memorial obelisk, unveiled 1923, with later additions for the Second World War.

Description

The war memorial stands on the verge just outside the churchyard, approximately 12m to the west of the Church of St Thomas (Grade II*-listed). It is in close proximity to neighbouring Grade II-listed buildings. The approximately 3m tall Cornish granite memorial takes the form of a scappled obelisk, square on plan, standing on a pedestal with a chamfered base. The west face of the pedestal carries the inscription LEST WE FORGET/ 1914 - 1918. An angled granite stone set in front of the base carries the commemorated names, reading 1914 – 1918/ (11 NAMES)/ 1939 – 1945/ (6 NAMES).

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 Simpson as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by 11 members of the local community who died in the First World War.

Although there had been informal discussions about a memorial at a meeting of the local Peace Celebrations Committee on 28 July 1919, it was not until May 1922 that a memorial committee was formed, with Peter Lawson as Chairman. It was felt that the most appropriate site was a triangular green in front of the church where a three-way signpost stood, maintained by Buckinghamshire County Council. Discussion focused on the signpost, which “even when in a state of repair - which is seldom” was “not exactly a thing of beauty”. The committee also agreed that the Roll of Honour would be in the form of a board. Erected in the church porch, this lists all 76 men who served.

On 17 October 1922 the local newspaper reported that £92 2s had been raised towards the memorial costs, with only a further £5 required. The memorial obelisk, by Messrs G Maile and Son, was unveiled and dedicated by the Suffragan Bishop of Buckingham on 4 February 1923. The obelisk had been erected, however, on the verge just outside the churchyard wall, and not on the site of the maligned signpost.

Following the Second World War the names of six servicemen who died in that conflict were added to the memorial, along with the names of the First World War dead. The memorial was cleaned and re-lettered in 2014 to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Messrs Maile and Son (London) were sculptors and church furnishers who were also responsible for supplying many war memorials across the country, a number of which are listed.

Reasons for Listing

Simpson War Memorial Obelisk, which stands outside the parish church, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:

* as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice it made in the conflicts of the C20.

Architectural interest:

* a simple yet poignant memorial obelisk, in granite.

Group value:

* with the Church of St Thomas (Grade II*-listed), and The Forge, 187 and 189, Simpson Road, and 442, Simpson Road (all Grade II-listed).

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