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War memorials and commemoration
War memorials and commemoration

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3 Location of a war memorial

3.1 Introduction

Let us take up the question of the location of the war memorial. I am going to give you a list of places in which I would expect you to find your war memorial:

local parish churchlocal parish churchyard
centre of your town or villagevillage green
local park or gardenschool or college

You may well be able to add to that list. Illustration A shows a war memorial set in an open space and surrounded by gravel, in Woburn, Bedfordshire.

Is its location important, do you think? What about the location of ‘your’ memorial? Let us explore this.

Exercise 3

What reasons can you think of for your war memorial being sited where it is?


You might perhaps think of, or even have personal knowledge of, the fact that the location of the memorial was carefully considered. But we must be wary of assuming that this happened in every case; and we will look later at the kind of discussion that was needed before two particular memorials came into being. Those involved in deciding on the location might include the designer or sculptor of the memorial, a group of people who paid for the memorial, civic leaders who wished to use public money for commemoration, or an individual wishing to fund a memorial to a specific person.

The sculptor would need to design the memorial in relation to the site in which it was to be located. The benefactor's views, and the views of the people who have raised the money for the provision of it, would need to be represented in decisions about its building and setting. It is easy to see that the owner of the land on which the memorial was to be built could have a large say in where the memorial should be.