History in Structure

Little Thetford War Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Little Thetford, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.3661 / 52°21'57"N

Longitude: 0.2442 / 0°14'38"E

OS Eastings: 552893

OS Northings: 276595

OS Grid: TL528765

Mapcode National: GBR M6V.NJR

Mapcode Global: VHHJD.5SXJ

Plus Code: 9F42968V+CM

Entry Name: Little Thetford War Memorial

Listing Date: 20 July 2023

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1484866

ID on this website: 101484866

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Thetford

Built-Up Area: Little Thetford

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire


First World War memorial probably dedicated by 1925, with further names added after the Second World War.


First World War memorial probably dedicated by 1925, with further names added after the Second World War.

MATERIALS: limestone.

PLAN: the memorial is situated in the cemetery at the northern end of Little Thetford village. It is positioned on the west side of the main pathway into the cemetery, surrounded by concrete paving slabs.

EXTERIOR: the memorial consists of a Celtic wheel cross on a low shaft of roughly dressed stone. It rests on a tapering rectangular section plinth, raised on one square stone step. The south face of the cross has a central boss and ring with a raised band which runs across each of the four arms. These have raised edges and each one features a carved triquetra. The sides and rear of the cross are roughly dressed like the shaft and plinth, and are without decoration.

The south side of the plinth has a smoothly dressed panel cut into the centre bearing the inscription in pinned lead letters in an angular, stylised script: ‘ERECTED / TO THE MEMORY OF THE MEN / WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR / 1914 – 1918’. Below this are 12 names followed by: ‘GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS / THAT HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS’. Below this on the front face of the step is inscribed: ‘1939 – 1945’ followed by two names.


The concept of commemorating war dead did not develop to any great extent until towards the end of the C19. Previously, memorials were rare and were mainly dedicated to individual officers, or sometimes regiments. The first large-scale erection of war memorials dedicated to the ordinary soldier followed the Second Boer War of 1899-1902, the first major war following reforms to the British Army which led to regiments being recruited from local communities and with volunteer soldiers. However, it was the aftermath of the First World War that was the great age of memorial building, both as a result of the huge impact the loss of three quarters of a million British lives had on communities and 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.

In Little Thetford the war memorial was erected in the village cemetery, and although the date of dedication is unclear the cemetery was established by 1925. In March 1921 a Roll of Honour was unveiled in the parish church and it is possible the war memorial was erected around that time.

The architect and sculptor responsible for the memorial are not known. It commemorates 14 individuals from the parish of Little Thetford; 12 names from the First World War and two from the Second.

Reasons for Listing

Little Thetford War Memorial 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:

* as a good example of war memorial design taking the form of a Celtic wheeled cross with some decorative detailing.

External Links

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