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Woburn Sands and Aspley Heath War Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0115 / 52°0'41"N

Longitude: -0.6473 / 0°38'50"W

OS Eastings: 492936

OS Northings: 235654

OS Grid: SP929356

Mapcode National: GBR F1Y.Z0F

Mapcode Global: VHFQQ.QPNT

Entry Name: Woburn Sands and Aspley Heath War Memorial

Listing Date: 12 September 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1458617

Location: Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes, MK17

County: Milton Keynes

Civil Parish: Woburn Sands

Built-Up Area: Woburn Sands

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Summary

First World War memorial, unveiled 1919, with later additions for the Second World War.

Description

The memorial stands in a garden on the west side of High Street, approximately 25m south of Woburn Sands Library (unlisted). The rusticated Portland stone monument takes the form of a tall tapering pylon, square on plan, standing on a base and single step. The pylon is surmounted by a small wheel-head cross. The clock, inset into the top of the pylon and with faces on three sides, is a replacement by Smith (London). Carved laurel wreaths encircle the lower arc of each clock face.

The principal dedicatory inscription on a panel to the front face of the memorial reads LEST WE FORGET/ THIS MEMORIAL/ WAS ERECTED BY/ INHABITANTS OF/ WOBURN SANDS AND/ ASPLEY HEATH IN/ REMEMBRANCE OF/ THOSE WHOSE NAMES/ ARE INSCRIBED WHO/ DIED FOR THEIR/ COUNTRY AND THE/ FREEDOM OF NATIONS/ 1914 1918.

An additional panel to the north-east face of the pylon carries the later dedications, reading THIS TABLET/ WAS ADDED IN MEMORY OF/ (7 NAMES)/ WHO PAID THE SUPREME SACRIFICE/ IN THE 2ND GREAT WAR/ 1939 - 1945/ “AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN/ AND IN THE MORNING/ WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.”/ ALSO OF/ (1 NAME). The panel on the rear face of the pylon reads ENROLLED ARE THEY/ FOR HIGHER SERVICE NOW/ 1914 1918/ (43 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 Woburn Sands as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by 43 members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.

A meeting in the town held on 29 January 1919 discussed a proposal for a war memorial to take the form of a new tower for St Michael’s Church. A War Memorial Committee was formed. On 25 February the local newspaper reported that “This is undoubtedly the most discussed topic at the moment, other problems such as filthy streets, more allotments and lighting being relegated to the background”. The journalist also noted that the idea of a new church tower, complete with a ring of eight bells, had met with great difficulty and a number of other potential alternatives were mentioned. These included a monument in the Square, a fountain, a clock tower, a recreation ground, and a parish institute. It was hoped that a forthcoming meeting would resolve the issue.

A meeting on 27 February was poorly attended and lasted less than an hour. Those who attended considered further alternatives including a Young Men’s Christian Association facility and an illuminated clock tower. It was noted that “utmost good feeling prevailed throughout”. The committee met again on 4 June and agreed to proceed with the most favoured scheme of the suggestions that had been made: a memorial with a clock to be erected in the Square (at the junction of Church Road, Woburn Road and the High Street), at a cost of £260. Gifts and pledges had already been received for £220.

Some £30 was still required in October and a rummage sale was set up to make good the shortfall. At the same time, preparatory work for the memorial had begun. Cyril Hutton was in charge of work to remove a drinking trough and street-light from the Square (the former was relocated to a site between The Swan public house and the vicarage). Messrs Kelly and Co of Marylebone were the appointed builders, under Hutton’s supervision, and construction had begun by the following month. It may have been designed by WB Stonebridge LRIBA, who provided drawings for a more ambitious memorial clock tower that, in the event, was not built. The clock was supplied by Gillet and Johnson (Croydon).

The memorial was unveiled by the Duke of Bedford on 20 December 1919 having been dedicated by Reverend James Rees and Reverend Shelton on 11 November 1919.

In October 1947 the names of seven local servicemen who died in the Second World War were added to the memorial, unveiled in November of that year by Mr Hart who had been a prisoner of war. In 1954, research led to one further name being added to the Second World War Roll of Honour. Following various proposals to move the memorial in response to road schemes, in 1972 it was moved c140m from the Square to its current location because it was considered to have become a traffic hazard. At that time the memorial’s base was slightly reduced in height. The lettering was re-cut in 2000.

Reasons for Listing

Woburn Sands and Aspley Heath War Memorial, which stands in a garden on High Street, 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:

* an unusual Portland stone memorial incorporating a public clock with Christian symbolism.

Group value:

* with Shelton House (Grade II-listed).

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