A history of Barnack War Memorial on its 100th anniversary
Today (Saturday) marks the centenary of the unveiling and dedication of a village war memorial, writes Brian Palmer, Barnack branch secretary of the Royal British Legion.
Barnack’s war memorial was funded by Alfred Webster, who was born just up the road in Bainton, in 1882.
After his marriage, he and his wife moved to Barnack where he ran a Hobart motorcycle and bicycle shop in Main Street.
In 1913 the family emigrated to South Africa, but Alfred must have known many of the men from the Barnack and Bainton who lost their lives in the First World War, and no doubt it was this that prompted his act of generosity to the village.
He paid a visit to Barnack to attend the unveiling of the memorial.
The Mercury carried an account of the event on Friday, February11, 1921. It read: “The village war memorial, the gift of Mr. Alfred Webster, was unveiled on Sunday afternoon in the presence of a large gathering of villagers and visitors from neighbouring places. The cross occupies a prominent position on the triangular green at the western entrance to the village. It is of a very chaste and graceful character and is from a design by the eminent architect Mr. Temple-Moore.”
As well as listing the 32 casualties of the war from the villages, the report continued: “The clergy, choir, churchwardens and sidesmen met at the vestry and walked in procession to the schools, where they were joined by the ex-service men under Lieut Fowke and a large number of parents, relatives and friends of the fallen.
“The procession moved on to the site of the memorial. Here they were joined by the Marquess and Marchioness of Exeter and others.”
The Marquess of Exeter then unveiled the memorial, saying that honour was due not only to those who gave their lives, but also to those who had served and had come back.
A dedication by the Archdeacon of Oakham followed and the ‘Last Post’ was sounded by Sgt Major Cummings of Stamford.
It is very likely that the local rector, the Rev La Grange Leney, was instrumental in seeing that the village had a war memorial, and in gathering the names of those who would be remembered.
In 1917 the Mercury reported that during a church service he had expressed the hope that a permanent memorial would be erected in the village.
By 1999, weathering of the stone had rendered the names of the fallen unclear and so new bronze plaques were installed on the plinth of the cross in a joint Royal British Legion and parish council initiative.
The names of five Second World War casualties and a Falklands casualty have also been added.
The war memorial was re-dedicated at a service held in June 2000 and attended by about 300 people. This replicated the original 1921 service.
In 2009, Charles Clark, former chairman of the local Royal British Legion branch, succeeded in having the memorial designated a Grade II listed structure. A principal reason given by Historic England for the listing was that it is a poignant reminder of internationally significant events and their impact on the local community.