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War Memorial Plaques 2018

To coincide with the plaque being laid to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Rushden's VC William Bernard Vann, Rushden & District History Society put a plaque in the memorial garden with notes on the building
of the war memorial.
Memorial Garden
The War Memorial and the new plaque
The plaque with a drawing by Clive Wood

Following the First World War the residents of Rushden considered ways to commemorate those from the town whose lives had been lost as a result of the conflict. Various options were considered which included a Memorial Hall or a Rushden and Higham Ferrers War Memorial Cottage Hospital. Eventually in March 1920 the Rushden Urban District Council established a Rushden Cenotaph Committee to consider erecting a War Memorial.

A site for the Memorial was chosen of The Green which in the 19th Century had the village pound (for stray animals), whipping post and round house on it for locking up criminals. The Green was also used in the early 20th Century for public meetings, religious gatherings and sometimes market stalls selling wares.

Two plans were drawn up for the War Memorial. Messrs Gotch & Sanders of Kettering were the architects with John Alfred Gotch (1852-1942) being the main architect for the design of the monument. The design chosen was for the Memorial to be octagonal, divided into three tiers, with statues and garlands surmounted by a tapering spire. The style being a free treatment of the Classic Renaissance.

Work Began on the Memorial in the summer of 1921. Morris & Sons, stone and marble masons of 176 Wellingborough Road, Rushden were commissioned to build the monument. It was built of concrete and bricks with facings of Weldon ashlar limestone.

The three main figures on the Memorial were carved by London sculptor, Allan Gairdner Wyon FRBS RMS (1882-1962) and represent Fortitude, Sympathy and St George. The figures were chosen as 'Fortitude enabled our armies in the blackest days to fight on, Sympathy which Kept all the sections of our people united, and the outcome was Victory for St. George, Victory for England'. The other Carvings were the work of Messrs Samuel Levi Reynolds & Son, sculptor, modellers, stone and marble carvers of 22 Palmerston Road, Northampton.

The War Memorial was unveiled by Sir Arthur de Capell Brooke Bt of Great Oakley Hall on Sunday 21 st September 1921, which was also Rushden Feast Sunday. Around 12,000 people attended the unveiling. The Memorial was dedicated by the Rector of St Mary's Church, Rushden, Rev Percy Robson MA and was then officially handed over to Cllr William Bazeley JP. as the Chairman of Rushden Urban District Council.

The names of those who died in the First World War are in alphabetical order on eight vertical panels around the memorial under the inscription 'To keep in mind those from this town who gave their lives in the Great War, 1914-1919'. Even though the Armistice was signed on the 11th November 1918 that ended the actual fighting it wasn't until 28th June 1919 that the Treaty of Versailles was signed to officially end the war between Germany and the Allied Powers. 424 Servicemen from Rushden who died in the conflict are honoured here. The Memorial Garden was developed around the memorial from the 1920s onwards.

Following the Second World War the names of 123 servicemen were added on eight horizontal panels surrounding the base and additional names have also been added for those who have died in conflicts since the Second World War. The Memorial was designated as a Grade II Listed structure in 1987.

Whilst there are some names missing from the monument for a variety of reasons, the War Memorial stands as a reminder to all of the sacrifice made by many in various conflicts.

The plaque was presented by Rushden & District History Society in 2018, thanks to the generous donation from former member Robert Freeman.

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