Commencement of Exploratory Work on the Cookham Dean War Memorial
(29 August 2014)
Parish Council Announces Commencement of Exploratory Work on the Cookham
Dean War Memorial
Dean residents will be touched and intrigued to see their village War
Memorial at the centre of a specialist investigation on Wednesday and
Thursday 27th and 28th August.
A cherry picker will be brought to the site to allow a high level
inspection of shaft and cross, and the bronze plaques will be gently
removed to assess what lies beneath. Other skilled appraisals will be
undertaken by experienced conservators under the supervision of a
conservation-accredited architect, to help determine the work to be
specified for a full restoration process in 2015.
Cookham Dean War Memorial has long posed the Parish Council a complex
problem. The War Memorial was erected
shortly after the First World War, with engraved names of the Fallen
together with other inscriptions. After
the Second World War, further names were added, this time on two bronze
plaques mounted on the upper plinth of the east and west face of the
records show that the decision to use bronze plaques in 1948 for World War
2 names, rather than engrave these names directly on the stone, was taken
because by that time the rapid rate of erosion of this particular stone
had already been noted.
1974, bronze plaques were added to the middle tier of the east and west
faces beneath the Second World War plaques, this time to replace First
World War names inscribed on the stonework, which it is thought had
weathered to the point of being barely legible.
rate of weathering of this War Memorial has been an issue of concern over
many years of Parish Council history, with numerous repairs and
refurbishments undertaken from time to time.
The condition of the radial stone base with its pebbled infill has
also caused concern. Currently,
it is clear that there has been some compression, or ground movement, and
this has led to considerable disturbance and cracking of the base.
Parish Council currently wishes to undertake a comprehensive and
‘durable’ restoration of the War Memorial. A solution was needed that
would not lead to further anxieties every small number of years, as has
previously been the case. To this end, advice was taken and an Expression
of Interest was submitted to the War Memorials Trust early in 2013 to
initiate the process of a grant
application (which, if granted, could help substantially with costs to be
that time further specialists have been consulted and a comprehensive
review undertaken by the Parish Council.
This has led to the identification of specific issues which need to
be explored before work can be specified for a full restoration, planned
for 2015. Accordingly, quotes were invited for a Preliminary Investigation
and a conservation-accredited architect has been appointed.
contractor is the War Memorial Restoration Company of Cardiff, and the
architect is Mr John Radice from Wallingford.
Parish Council will be launching a formal appeal for funds to help with
this project when the costs of the full restoration work are known.
Meanwhile, the Preliminary Investigation will cost more than £5,000
in total, and any community or individual contributions to this sum would
be most gratefully received.
The restoration work coincides with
local activity to learn more about the people whose deaths the
memorial commemorates. The Royal Borough is engaged in a
Borough-wide project to create a web-based resource with background on
local soldiers as well as the impact of a war locally. A
Cookham team is providing input to this project, covering both
Cookham memorials, as well as planning for an exhibition and other
activities about local soldiers and their families and lives which will
feature in next year's Cookham Festival.
Jean Stretton, who initiated the restoration project, said: It
is 100 years since WW1 was declared and a reminder of the sacrifice of the
41 men whose names are recorded on the Memorial.
Shez Courtenay-Smith, who has undertaken the recent definition of the
project, said: “The Cookham Dean War Memorial Restoration project is of
great importance to Cookham in its own right and is also of very special
interest because of the history and complexity of our Cookham Dean War
Memorial. We are delighted
that the War Memorials Trust have suggested an English Heritage Listing
should be sought for this particular War Memorial once the restoration
work is complete”
of the War Memorial
stone cross is surmounted on a circular tapered shaft decorated with a
fluted and beaded spiral, set on a square plinth.
This column is further set on a three tiered square base of stone
with brick insets in the middle and upper tier, and brick and flint insets
in the lower tier. Commemorative
names are inscribed onto stone panels and, in some instances, on attached
bronze plaques. The whole
assembly is set centrally on a circular decorative pavement with a
radiating design of stone kerbs and large pebbles.
example of the particular problem of erosion
decorated shaft has a good definition of its fluting and beading on the
south and west faces, but has suffered significant erosion on the north
and east faces.
that the Exploratory Investigation will answer or help answer
are the stone types used (to be confirmed by petrographical
samples and testing)?
Do the shaft and cross continue to be stable and fully vertical?
How was the now-cracked and dislodged pebbled base constructed and how can we best restore it?
and additional cracks on the outer edge of the northern side of the
How can existing failing repairs and more recent splitting of the stone best be remedied?
A failed ‘piecing repair’
to the SE corner, middle tier.
What lies behind the bronze plaques and what is the condition of any engraved lettering in these locations?
Bronze plaque with
First World War names of the Fallen on the west elevation.
Is it possible to polish the bronze plaques more successfully than has been achieved in the past?
What is the best cleaning method for the stonework and can the legibility of the lettering be improved by cleaning alone?
eroded lettering on the north elevation plinth beneath the shaft,
‘FOR GOD, KING AND COUNTRY’
How effective would painted or enamelled infills be in improving the legibility of the lettering?
What should be the future of the plaques and, given the differential rates of erosion to date on different sides of the Memorial, what is the best means of consolidating the stone surface into the future?
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