History and Building of the War Memorial

After the First World War a committee was set up to organize the raising of funds and the building of a memorial. This consisted of Mr. C. English (chairman) Mrs. Campbell Steward (secretary), Mr. S. Vlasto (treasurer), Dr. H. Webb-Ware, the Rev. H. Hicks, Mr. J Emms, Mr. J. Charlish, Mr. G. Funnell and Mr. F.J. Yallop.

Mrs. Campbell Steward was the widow of the major land owner of Saxlingham. She owned several farms and many of the houses in the village. She had a lot of influence. At her suggestion the war memorial was based on the design of the market cross of Castle Combe, a village about 15 miles from Bath. This ancient market cross is built of stone with an oak-framed roof covered with tiles made from the local Wiltshire stone. Mr. F.W. Troup, a well known architect, of Gray’s Inn Square, London was commissioned to design the memorial based upon this but using local Norfolk materials. Mr Troup has been employed previously by Dr. Webb-Ware to design a house, Belcombe,  for him in the village.

Market Cross, Castle Combe

Market Cross, Castle Combe

It soon became apparent to the committee that they did not have enough funds to accept the tenders  which had been put in to build it.  However the people in the village did not want to change the design and so decided that they would do the work themselves. The Chairman of the Parish Council was appointed as paymaster and local men used their particular skills to build it. The architect generously gave his professional services for free.

Local oak trees were felled for the beams of the roof and cut up in the village saw pit. Old tiles from a nearby house which was being reconstructed were bought, and the bricks were given by the owner of Saxlingham brickyard.  One of the men, Frederick Baker, whose name is on the memorial, had made some of the bricks and his initials were marked on one of the bricks used in the steps. (Unfortunately when the steps were repaired in 1990s this brick was removed). The war memorial took longer to build than it might have done but everyone was pleased with the finished result and it does resemble Castle Combe market cross.

When the memorial was finished there was no money left to cover the cost of the stone and bronze plaques which listed the names of those who died or served in the forces. Dr. Webb-Ware and Mr. Stephen Vlasto Esq. therefore paid for these to be made. The money they gave was in addition to what they had already given at the beginning of the project.

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