Tutbury War Memorials Preservation Project

The Tutbury War Memorials Preservation project was started in January 2013 with the aim of documenting and preserving the village's War Memorials. Most people think of the Memorial near the south door of St. Mary's church as "the village War Memorial". However, the War Memorials Trust defines a War Memorial as
"any physical object created, erected or installed to commemorate those involved in or affected by a conflict or war".
Using that definition, Tutbury has had fifteen War Memorials, two of which are now missing. The village has also had two "trophy guns", officially distributed by the government after WWI. One still exists, the Spandau Machine Gun at the museum, the other has disappeared (probably scrapped) – a field gun positioned on the east side of Bridge Street.

The project sought to document and preserve all of these objects (where they could be found). However, it is the "War Memorial" at St. Mary's that was the priority.

The Stone Cross War Memorial, St Mary’s Priory Churchyard

Erected in 1920, full details of the War Memorial and the preservation project can be found on the website www.tutburywarmemorials.org.uk. The three areas that required consideration to preserve the Memorial for future generations were:
a. Appearance: there was a great deal of lichen and dirt on the SCWM, the removal of which required professional expertise. The bronze plaques needed cleaning – again with professional help.

b. Structure: most of the mortar was missing, leaving open joints, plus some previous repairs that had failed; all required professional attention. There was also very uneven paving surrounding the memorial, possibly due to subsidence.

c. Stability: the SCWM appeared to be leaning. The land upon which the SCWM was built was known to have contained graves in the 1860s (there is a painting to that effect in Tutbury Museum) but there was no record of whether these were moved when the memorial was built in 1920. Whether this lean required corrective action was again for professional consideration.

Preservation

The preservation project was in two phases, the first to review and assess, the second to preserve. Permissions had to be sought for both Phases from the Diocese of Lichfield as the War Memorial stands in the Churchyard of the Grade I listed Tutbury Priory Church.

In March 2014, Phase I, the Assessment was carried out by a firm of Conservation Architects in conjunction with their structural engineer. Funding was secured through East Staffordshire Borough Council and the War Memorials Trust.

Phase II took four weeks in August 2015. Again War Memorials Trust provided a grant, together with funds from individuals, other organisations, local and national, large and small.

The War Memorial was granted Grade II status, an aid to conservation in the future.


Rededication

On 1st July 2016, the War Memorial was rededicated by the Bishop of Stafford, the successor of the Bishop who dedicated the War Memorial originally in May 1920. This was the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, when six Tutbury men perished at Gommecourt.

Of the 150+ in the congregation, more than half were relatives of the Tutbury men who died in WWI.

Wreath Holders

It has been the policy of the Vicar and the Parochial Church Council to leave out the Remembrance wreaths from Remembrance Sunday until 1st October each year.

The War Memorials Trust, who had generously supported this project, prefer the wreaths not to lie upon a memorial as this causes damage. Wreaths fill with water and encourage lichen, etc to grow.

Another problem at the Tutbury Priory Church is the wind that blows strongly around, displacing wreaths. This is disrespectful to those commemorated by the wreaths.

It was decided to erect 2 Wreath Holders of specific dimensions upon which to hang the wreaths (18 in 2016). Funds have been found, including a generous donation from British Gypsum (15 WWI Tutbury soldiers who died worked either in the plaster mill or the mine).

As the Wreath Holders were to be erected in the Churchyard, the permission of the Diocese of Lichfield was again sought. This took 12 months from first being requested – and the Faculty was granted by the Chancellor of the Consistory Court on 19th January 2017.

This will complete the War Memorial and preserve this for future generations – Lest We Forget.

Tutbury Museum has been pleased to offer support to the work of the War Memorials Preservation Committee.