HISTORY OF SHIPDHAM WAR MEMORIAL 

The Shipdham War Memorial was unveiled by the Dean of Norwich on Sunday 6 Feb 1921 in the presence of a large gathering of relatives of those who were killed in the First World War.  The cross which was erected at a cost of £170 by public subscription is composed entirely of grey Devonshire granite quarried in Dartmoor.  The cross stands about 10 foot in height and is of graceful design.  The upper portion is pierced and richly carved with interlaced strap-work representing eternity.  In the centre is the crown of victory.  The surface of the cross and steps are finished with a rustic surface producing an artistic effect.  The three bases are octagonal in plan and on the front faces are a suitable inscription and the list of names.  The memorial was executed by Messrs Harry Hems & Sons, sculptors of Exeter.“The Dean’s address was based on the passage “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends”. He continued that indeed it was a most solemn occasion and that great congregation filling the church – spacious as it was – in every part was an eloquent testimony to the deep feeling that was in all their hearts.  They were all there to pay honour to who honour was due.  They were there to identify themselves in a very special way with the memorial that was to be unveiled.  That memorial raised by them showed that they were not ungrateful for the sacrifice of the men of Shipdham who went to war and never came home again, whose lives freely rendered were part of the price by which England’s freedom was bought.”


                                         SHIPDHAM WAR MEMORIAL PROJECT


A couple of years ago, Shipdham Parish Council received a report that the War Memorial in the churchyard was listing and had been getting progressively worse over the past 5 years.  Concern was expressed that damage to the memorial and anyone close at the time might ensue if it toppled over.

Shipdham Parish Council took the report seriously enough to involve the Diocese Architect, a Mr David Bonner to have a look into the report.  David Bonner arranged to inspect the memorial and as you can see from the pictures the report was correct in that the memorial was listing.  David Bonner surmised that this listing was due to ground subsidence under the memorial, and he recommended a structural survey be conducted to verify his supposition.

A Diocese approved structural engineering company was engaged to perform the survey and their detailed conclusion was that the ground beneath the memorial was ‘made-up’ ground of cinders, kiln slag, shale and soil that had been compacted.  There was no foundation under the memorial and that the listing would continue to progress unless remedial work was done.  The structural engineers recommendation was for the memorial to be taken down, removed, and a suitable piled foundation be installed on which the memorial could be re-erected.

The Parish Council discussed this recommendation, and decided to engage a stone mason company to effect the recommended work.  The task of overseeing the project was passed to one of the Parish Councillors to perform the job. The first part of the project involved obtaining 3 separate quotes for the work as well as obtaining a church faculty to do the work.  Also at this time it was discovered that grant funding may be available from The War Memorial Trust (WMT), therefore a request was to be made to the WMT after receipt of the 3 quotes.  3 different stone mason companies were approached for quotes and in due time, 3 were received.  The one company chosen was Brett’s Stone Masons of Watton.  The War Memorial Trust application for funding was also completed and sent at this time as was application for a church faculty.  The WMT replied some 3 months later saying that they needed detailed quotes and pictures with architect and structural survey reports.  This information was collated and sent to the WMT but we would have to wait for the next time their grant approval board sat, which would be some 4 months hence.

When we received notification from the WMT that the quotes were not detailed enough and they were querying whether the work needed to be done at all, we were dismayed but attempted to comply by asking the 3 stone mason companies for very detailed quotes.

These quotes never materialised and after chasing the preferred company for 6 months, the parish council decided to approach another company.  This was done and Perfitt’s of Diss were sent all the information, and they replied with a detailed quote for the work.

The Faculty applied for was approved in principal, and after having a notification displayed in the church and elsewhere for a set period of time, a faculty was approved .

After the saga with attempting to obtain grant funding from the WMT, the Parish Council decided to abandon the grant application and to fund the project directly from council funds.

At this time, a parishioner reported that 2 new Commonwealth War Grave Commission type headstones had appeared in our cemetery.

On investigation it was found that there are 2-WW2 graves that had been forgotten about for some years, and although both of these military men died after the end of the war, they are considered by The Commonwealth War Graves Commission as war dead as they died of injuries received during the war.  The Parish Council decided that it would be fitting if these 2 names was added at the same time as the restoration work was being carried out by the stone masons.

The Parish Council formally engaged Perfitt’s of Diss to perform the work.  Perfitts adamantly concurred that the work would be done in good time for Remembrance Day 2012 (Sunday 11th November).


As you can see from the pictures, Perfitts were very careful in dismantling the memorial, and the foundation created was very well done and completed very quickly ………………………..





Perfitts were as careful if not more so when re-erecting the memorial.





As can be seen from pictures above, the work done has been to a very high standard and with careful consideration to the finished effect.

The garden around the memorial has been refurbished and paid for by the Shipdham Branch of The Royal British Legion.  With their willing volunteers, they have ensured that the garden will be of very low maintenance and will look good throughout the year.  The replacement of the ornamental chain adds the finishing touch.


Although it has taken almost 2 years to complete, the work done has ensured that the memorial will no longer be a concern to the village residents and will ensure that this essential village artefact will be around for many years to come.

There were many persons involved in the necessary repair to this important village war memorial, they gave freely of their time, experience and physical effort to attain this excellent result.  Although they are too numerous to mention, one person in particular who guided us through the minefield of obtaining the church faculty was Mr. Brian Kidd who very sadly is no longer with us.  The completion of this project is in no small way testament to his diligence and effort.  Thank you to everybody who has been involved in attaining this fitting end to the project.


Shipdham Parish Council