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No-one driving through Bishop Burton can fail to notice our iconic war memorial, standing prominently across The Mere from the York-Beverley main road. It is undoubtedly one of the most eye-catching monuments of any village in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

During 2015, the memorial was under scrutiny by Historic England and subsequently accorded the status of a ‘listed building’. Coincidentally, I was asked to clean it by the Parish Council, which is formally responsible for its maintenance, repair and preservation.

This article starts with a brief history of the memorial and the associated tablet in All Saints’ Church, which records the names of the men who died in the Great War. I have included brief profiles of the chief players responsible for the design, fabrication, unveiling and dedication of the memorial and tablet, because they are probably not familiar to most readers. This is followed by an informal ‘self-assessment’ and details of the listing process by Historic England. Finally, I have added some notes about cleaning, with ‘before and after’ photographs.

History

I have taken some of the historical details from a booklet entitled ‘Bishop Burton and World War I’, written by Bryn Jones in 2008. This treatise is a comprehensive account of the part played by the villagers who served in the Great War, and includes individual profiles of those who lost their lives. Seven men were killed in action or died of wounds, but a further nine men who died were associated with the village in one way or another. The present article is a tribute to those men.

After the Great War, a sum of £641 4s 4d (equivalent to over £28,000 in 2016) was raised by public subscription to construct a war memorial to commemorate the seven men from the village who gave their lives ‘for King and Country’.

It is not clear how exactly the memorial was commissioned and why it was designed on such a grand scale for such a small village, whose population at the 1921 Census was only 378. It cannot be the case that all memorials are unique in their design, but I doubt there is an exact replica of our memorial anywhere in the country.

The memorial was designed by Temple Moore & Moore, which for most people probably means nothing. A glimpse into the background of this firm of architects reveals that it was founded by an extraordinary character called Temple Lushington Moore. With a flamboyant name like that, he had to be someone special, and he was. Significantly, his name links the village with some of the most iconic buildings in the country through his association with three generations of the Gilbert Scott family.

George Gilbert Scott designed St Pancras Station and the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, while his son, George Gilbert Scott junior, who designed the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Baptist in Norwich and Dulwich College in south London, took on Moore as an apprentice in 1875. This pedigree led Moore to design over forty churches, mainly on the North York Moors, as well as war memorials. He in turn mentored two of the George Gilbert junior’s sons, Giles Gilbert Scott, who designed the famous red telephone box, and Adrian Gilbert Scott.

It seems unlikely that Temple Moore designed Bishop Burton War Memorial personally because he died in 1920, but it is intriguing to ponder whether one of the Gilbert Scott brothers had an input.

The memorial is described formally by the Imperial War Museums as having a four-stepped octagonal base surmounted by a plinth, tapering shaft and cross. In their recent Consultation Report prior to listing, Historic England described the memorial in greater detail; the report is reproduced below.

What is curious is that no-one saw fit to inscribe the memorial with the names of the soldiers who died. Instead, an impressive stone tablet, beautifully carved by Joseph Armitage, was set inside All Saints’ Church. Armitage was a wood carver, stone carver, architectural sculptor, teacher, and lecturer. His many commissions included the 'King's Beasts' carving on St. George's Chapel, Windsor, the oak leaf symbol for the National Trust, the memorial to W.G. Grace outside Lord's Cricket Ground, and the memorial at Neuve Chapelle commemorating Indian soldiers who died in the Great War.

Bryn’s research showed that payments to ‘S E Lythe for building the foundation of The Cross’ and to ‘J Peers & Son for building The Cross’ amounted to a total of £544.6.6 (£23,800 in 2016). Further payments were made to ‘Joseph Armitage for Tablet in Church’ of £90.0.0 (£3930 in 2016) and to ‘Robert Pape for fixing Tablet in Church’ of £6.17.10 (£300 in 2016)

The Cross, as the memorial was referred to at the time, was unveiled on Monday 16 October 1922 by Lord Nunburnholme. Formally, he had the imposing title of Colonel the Right Honourable Charles Henry Wellesley Wilson MP CB DSO, 2nd Baron Nunburnholme of Warter Priory and Londesborough Park, and Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire (from 1908 to 1924). Lord Nunburnholme was an heir to a shipping company, Thomas Wilson Sons & Co of Hull, and a Member of Parliament for Hull West who used his wealth and influence to recruit thousands of East Riding men to join the war effort. One wonders how many of them survived after 1918. There is an article about Lord Nunburnholme (known as ‘Tommy’ Wilson), dated 23 January 2015, in the Pocklington Post (www.pocklingtonpost.co.uk).

The Cross was dedicated by The Archbishop of York, formally The Right Reverend and Right Honourable William Cosmo Gordon Lang, First Baron Lang of Lambeth GCVO PC (from 1909 to 1928). This was an interesting and controversial choice, given that Lang was roundly criticised for a speech he made while serving as a member of the House of Lords in which he spoke sympathetically of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II. To his credit, he late showed great remorse over this misjudgement but the issue apparently presaged his ill health.

Friends of Bishop Burton War Memorial contributed to a stone tablet in 2006 that is now on the south side of the memorial (Photo 1). This was just prior to the strengthening of the area around the Cross in 2008. As the memorial has nearly always been inaccessible, the Parish Council erected a replica plaque in 2014 that is set into the brick boundary wall enclosing the wooded area. So there are now three tablets in the village bearing the names of the seven men who died in the Great War.

All three tablets record the names of the men, who all served in different regiments. Interestingly, and surely a reflection of the social order of the time, the officer’s name is at the top, followed by the other ranks in alphabetical order. Second Lieutenant Richard Hall-Watt was the Lord of the Manor of Bishop Burton from the age of nine, and when he was killed in action in 1917 he was still only 19. There is a tomb in the churchyard carrying his name, but he is actually buried in Artillery Wood Cemetery in Belgium. John, Mary and Andrew Dunning, together with Geoff and Doreen Ellerington, and other members of Beverley Pea Growers, laid a wreath on the grave during a visit to Ypres in 1993.

Listing by Historic England

The government is committed to ensuring that all war memorials are in a good state of repair by 2018 as part of the National Heritage Protection Plan (NHPP). As Bishop Burton War Memorial had not previously been assessed, Historic England carried out a ‘partial inspection’ on 9 June 2015 to consider whether it has special architectural or historic interest. The ‘Designation Team North’ produced a consultation report on 28 July 2015, which set out the factual information upon which they based their recommendation for ‘listing’ to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Historic England then invited the Parish Council to comment on the report and to provide any further information. Coincidentally, I had already cleaned the memorial when the Parish Council asked me to complete a condition survey, or self-assessment, using on-line guidance provided by the War Memorials Trust (www.warmemorials.org/conditionsurvey). I also studied many pages of jointly-produced advice from Historic England and the War Memorials Trust (referenced below).

Before I could submit my self-assessment, Historic England’s machinations reached a conclusion, with the outcome that Bishop Burton War Memorial is now officially a Grade II Listed Building as of 15 October 2015.

Assessment and Cleaning

My informal assessment of the war memorial followed several days of laborious cleaning, during which I was able to study the structure in detail. I should be surprised if the country’s experts on war memorials came up with wildly different views from my own. ‘They’ would doubtless send the Parish Council an invoice for a large amount of money; I have done this free of charge! I offer my general comments in no special order.

Given that Bishop Burton's iconic war memorial is 93 years old it is in generally very good condition. Structurally, it is perfectly sound and not in danger of disintegrating or falling down. There has been no subsidence, so the octagonal base of four steps has no cracks between the individual slabs. The slabs themselves are not cracked anywhere and they are still perfectly horizontal (as verified with a spirit level). The Latin cross is vertical (as observed with a plumb line) when viewed from every direction, and it is still rigidly stepped into its octagonal pedestal. The tablet listing the names of the men who died in the Great War is in perfect condition.

The large slabs that form the octagonal base steps are made of rough Ashlar sandstone, and some of these contain millions of tiny embedded shells, suggesting that the stone was under the sea at some time! The stone is heavily pitted in many places, particularly on the north side, which does not receive much sun and none at all during the winter months. The small holes hold water so do not readily dry out. Although this feature does not appear to affect the structural integrity of the base steps it does encourage the growth of moss and algae.

The mortar between the slabs is generally sound. I would like to make repairs where the mortar has eroded, but I do not regard this weathering as an urgent problem. I would re-point the damaged joints with lime mortar, not cement mortar, and try to match the colour to that of the adjacent sandstone, as recommended by the War Memorials Trust.

There are no signs of graffiti or vandalism, which is not surprising given the site’s inaccessibility.

The assessment naturally leads to some apposite comments on cleaning.

As a recently ‘listed monument’, the memorial needs regular attention, which is why I have cleaned it recently, although this is clearly a dubious occupation like painting the Humber Bridge.

The first task was to clear the worst of the moss, which covered most of the horizontal surfaces and parts of the vertical surfaces (Photos 2). As this growth was as much as a centimetre thick (Photo 3) I scraped it off with a wooden spatula (Photo 4), then brushed it as cleanly as possible (Photo 5).

At this stage I could assess the state of the stonework quite well. The surface pitting probably makes the stone a little fragile, which is why I would not use a high-pressure water jet to clean it, as advised by the War Memorials Trust.

Steam cleaning is recommended by the Trust but this requires an expensive high-power system and a mains power supply that is not immediately available. I tried a low-power steam cleaner but it was not very effective on the moss and algae, so I simply scrubbed the surfaces with pond water, which left a reasonably satisfactory finish and was just as quick (Photo 6). There are proprietary chemicals on the market for attacking moss and algae, and I may try one of these later, although with due caution.

First time around, I cleaned the whole monument except for the bottom step of the octagonal base. The contrast of before and after was therefore evident for all to see.

 

 

 

I cleaned lichen (Photo 7) from as much of the tapering shaft of the cross as I could reach (about half way up) with a blunt paint scraper, which I feel was acceptable because it did not cause any scratching. The shaft and cross are made of light-coloured sandstone with a smooth surface, and it shows no evidence of pitting even after nearly a century.

Having cleaned the memorial in August, I found that it was in need of further cleaning by Remembrance Day (Photo 8).

As is evident by any casual observer, the stone is nearly always wet in winter so it never looks as attractive as when it is dry in summer (Photo 9).

It is not the ducks that make the worst mess; they are too lazy to go above the bottom level. The worst culprits are gulls that park themselves on the top of the cross for their bowel movements. This mess cleans off easily but is a nuisance because it needs to be done regularly. Something must be done about those gulls! A possible solution would be to stick a row of fine spikes on the cross, as is done on many public buildings; these would be less visible than white gull muck.

Further Reading

Readers who would like further information relating to war memorials are directed to the following web-sites:

The War Memorials Trust has detailed advice on the maintenance of war memorials and includes an online condition survey (www.warmemorials.org). The 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.
Historic England and the War Memorials Trust have jointly produced further advice on conservation, repair and management (https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/conservation-repair-management-war-memorials/). As there are a confusing number of related organisations it is worth clarifying that Historic England has a statutory and advisory role with responsible for listing buildings as part of English Heritage.

War Memorials Online lists a full range of memorials in the United Kingdom (www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk). Although Bishop Burton War Memorial is mentioned, the entry has virtually no details and no photograph; I intend to rectify this omission by uploading information presented in this article.

The Imperial War Museum’s War Memorials Archive is the best record available (www.iwm.org.uk/warmemorials). The formal entry for our war memorial (www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/35078) is reproduced in the attachment below, except for the aerial photograph and map. I intend to rectify incorrect or missing information that is highlighted in red.

The other listed buildings in the parish (not all in the village) can be found elsewhere on this village web-site (www.bishopburton.org.uk) as ‘Listed buildings in Bishop Burton’ by Bryn Jones, dated 1 June 2010. The information is also published elsewhere (www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk).

Attachments:
Download this file (IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMS.pdf)IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMS.pdf[ ]51 kB