Wendover Remembers, May 1919
Even before the end of the war there were discussions in towns and villages throughout the country concerning the possible form of a war memorial. These memorials demonstrated a public and national commitment never to forget those who had given their lives. They were a powerful and unifying force that brought together both the survivors and the dead and they took many forms – stone crosses or monuments, bronze or marble figures, stained glass windows, lych-gates, hospitals, gardens, village halls and clock towers. Most were unveiled in the 1920s, but the planning, often not without heated discussion, took place in 1919.
In May 1919 the Ellesborough Parish Council discussed plans for the village war memorial. Miss Faith Moore of Ellesborough Manor proposed to give a field as a site for a village recreation ground and to have a permanent memorial erected there. Lord Lee said he would assist in the work required.
The plans for a memorial in Wendover caused much ill-feeling between the Lord of the Manor and the Parish Council and it wasn’t until 1922 that the War Memorial was finally dedicated. In November 1921 Mr Wood at a Parish Council Meeting said that on his recent holiday he had travelled through many villages large and small and they had all had their memorials and it was shameful that Wendover still hadn’t got theirs. He said the residents of the village blamed the Parish Council for the problem but that the memorial had been taken out of their hands by the Lord of the Manor. [Mr E P Smith].
A local resident writing under the pseudonym “SEMPER VIGILANS” [Ever Watchful] wrote to The Bucks Herald dated November 26th1921:
“It is pleasing to read the Council have given the reason of the apathy for the erection of the war memorial. The statement of the Councillors that the hold-up was a scandal and a disgrace is quite refreshing for the old world town. It is also stated the Council are blameless. They in committee have done their utmost, and I am given to understand, although plans had been accepted and approved by them, the Lord of the Manor (who does not live therein) did not approve, not with-standing the desire of the people, committee, and subscribers. “I will have my own architect” so ‘tis stated he re-marked two years since. Naturally the representatives of the people were crushed, and I suppose, the plans are so elaborate that it will be some time yet before they are executed. There is mention of a site for the war memorial after many schemes and counter schemes, and I gather the Lord of the Manor has decided to allocate a small portion of ground outside a chemist’s shop, and by virtue of this deed of goodness he has apparently taken over the war memorial scheme, lock stock and barrel. Many years since there lived a Lord of the Manor at Wendover who loved to live among the people, and the people loved him. So great was his love for the people that he presented the town with a building, and called it a Literary Institute.”
The Lord of the Manor lived at Kimble.
In his letter of reply to the Parish Council published in the same edition of the Bucks Herald Mr Smith said he had been collecting donations for some time and he would be obliged if members of the Council who had not already done so would send their subscriptions to the Bank with as much generosity as possible. He said that the Council had approved the design and proposed site opposite the Old Monastery and that the appeal should be left in his hands. As a result he had personally sent a copy of the appeal with a picture of the proposed cross to every householder in Wendover. The design for the memorial, he said “is the result of serious consideration by two very experienced architects, Mr A A Hudson, of Bacome, and Mr Gerald Cogswell. Mr Cogswell went to Wendover and carefully studied characteristics (red tiles) and made the design specially to suit them and its old world associations, a reproduction of the village cross of centuries ago. The opinion is that the cross, if erected, will be second to none with regard to beauty, and the site chosen is the most suitable. I am sending a copy of this letter to the press. Yours faithfully, Edwin P Smith. 13 May 1922”