The chapel memorial at Cawood today.
Names in the wall at Acaster Malbis.
Memorials in the Community
War memorials to the fallen of World War One were created and built by individuals and communities on the sites of battles and in the landscapes where the dead had come from. Communities had to come together to raise funds and make decisions about these memorials and they become important parts of the landscape of communities.
In Britain committees were formed to decide on the creation of memorials and there was already a strong tradition of local government that could feed into these committees. The churches in communities were often involved in the decisions made by these groups. A wide variety of monuments were constructed, from simple lists or modest park benches to stone sculptures set in the landscape to 'living monuments' that would be used in everyday life such as community halls, parks, sports grounds and hospitals.
At our first meeting of volunteers we heard that before these memorials were created in the 1920s and 30s an initial attempt at rewarding communities for their loss was made. This was the issuing of captured or unwanted weapons of war to communities as memorials, for example Bridlington in East Yorkshire had a World War One tank outside a church. Reports at the time indicate this was not universally popular with war veterans who saw them as an unwelcome memory of their suffering. The same veterans also reported disquiet at their lack of representation on the later memorial committees.
Our research revealed that decisions about the style, wording and location of war memorials was often a contentious issue. Researchers on one of our study days at the Borthwick Institute unearthed disputes over wording and location, for instance in relation to the memorial at Easingwold where a series of letters traced the discussion of replacing the word 'Glorious' with 'Noble'. In Skipwith similarly the records show alterations to the wording from those 'who served in the Great War' to 'the men of this parish who served in the war of 1914-1918', this being viewed as 'more consonant with expert military opinion.'
Margaret's research at Cawood revealed disunity in decisions about the style and location of war memorials. Here she found communities went in their own directions. The established Anglian Church (All Saints) went with a very traditional memorial within the church. Set opposite the south door it took the form of a window and plaque. The non-conformist Methodist community decided they wanted a cross outside the chapel with oral history suggesting families of men who went to the chapel did not want their names on the Cawood Church War Memorial. This took the form of a stone cross with Celtic designs.
Margaret takes up the story 'Over the years both congregations have become closer sharing services each year at both places of worship. When the chapel was closed Cawood Parish Council asked if the memorial could be given into their keeping and placed in a suitable place elsewhere in the village. Thanks to the efforts of the Cawood Millennium Committee and Mr John Miles, the memorial was carefully dismantled and removed to the closed churchyard in Church End. Each Remembrance Day, a service is held in this churchyard memorial garden remembering ALL those who died in the war.'
David's research at Acomb revealed an intention to overcome community difference: 'When the cross was dedicted in a ceremony in May 1922, representatives of all of Acomb's congregations participated as well as local Friendly Societies, working men's clubs and schools. Over 7000 people paraded from the Adult School led by an army band.'
Schools in the community became an important focal point for remembrance. At Cawood school a memorial board hangs in the main corridor. In the past and for many years each Remembrance Day the children filed past the board and touched the name of the soldier who was their relative. Such memorials are, however, often vulnerable as the community landscape changes and develops. In North Duffield Brian reported that the Victorian School House has now become a private dwelling and the memorial plaque has moved to the new Village Hall. On one of the workshop field trips we noted that the memorial to Micklegate Trinity National School was now located in Holy Trinity Micklegate following the closure of the school in 1956.
Another focal point of the community is the village Hall. Several of these were built as memorial halls including Haxby Memorial Hall. Acaster Malbis Memorial Institute was opened in 1927 with the names of those commemorated incorporated into the structure.