Category: Memorials

You might remember the huge interest in the art installation of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London in 2014. Throughout the country people were talking about and remembering the 1914 – 1918 War and were helped to visualise the vast number of those who fell.

The War was fresh in people’s minds after the Armistice in 1918 – bodies weren’t returned to Britain, so the majority of the dead were either buried in some foreign field or were missing with no known grave. Throughout the country people were talking about and considering how to remember the War and to commemorate those who had given their lives.

The Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall was originally a temporary structure erected for the London Victory Parade (also called the Peace Day Parade) on 19 July, 1919, that marked the formal end of the First World War which had taken place with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June, 1919. Following an outpouring of national sentiment, it was replaced in 1920 by a permanent structure and designated the United Kingdom’s primary national war memorial. This provided the impetus for cities, towns and villages to create their own memorials.

In Dartmoor, communities considered what they should do. There appears to have been no national guidance or funding, so communities originated their own ideas or copied others. Local committees were formed to raise money and to design the memorial and agree on its location. Some built non-religious memorials similar to the Cenotaph, others raised crosses either on consecrated ground or in the centre of the community, while others created memorials ranging from granite rocks to victory halls and hospitals. Some schools created memorials too.

It wasn’t only the dead that communities wanted to remember but also those who had served their country. Rolls of Honour were created and displayed in the Parish Church or in the Town Hall.

The war memorials created in the early 1920s continue to be a reminder of the terrifying consequences of war with more names being added as a result of the Second World War and subsequent conflicts.