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Woodchester War Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Woodchester, Gloucestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.7193 / 51°43'9"N

Longitude: -2.2321 / 2°13'55"W

OS Eastings: 384064

OS Northings: 202308

OS Grid: SO840023

Mapcode National: GBR 1MY.0J8

Mapcode Global: VH954.81CT

Entry Name: Woodchester War Memorial

Listing Date: 9 January 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1423565

Location: Woodchester, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5

County: Gloucestershire

District: Stroud

Civil Parish: Woodchester

Built-Up Area: Woodchester

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Woodchester St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester

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Summary

A war memorial of 1920 date, constructed of Minchinhampton stone.

Description

A war memorial of 1920 date, restored in 2010.

MATERIALS: constructed of local Minchinhampton limestone.

DESCRIPTION: the memorial is a freestanding wheel-cross on a tapering column that stands on a square base with three square steps below. The base is inscribed with the text: REMEMBER/1914 – 1919. Below, the names of the fallen (19) are listed in two columns. Further below the text: FELL. The step below is inscribed with the text: 1939 – 1945 and the names of the fallen from the Second World War (8). The left side of the lower step is chipped. All the text has been painted in black. To the rear and sides of the memorial is a high dry-stone wall which continues along the road on each side. A bank of land with established trees to the rear of the site rises above the structure and the road.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 10 January 2017.

History

The memorial was unveiled on 31 October 1920. It is shown on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1923 and has been little altered since then, except for the addition of the names of the fallen in the Second World War. The memorial was repaired and the lettering repainted in 2010. The lower step shows signs of wear and damage.

Among those commemorated is George Archer-Shee, who went missing in action, presumed dead, on 31 October 1914 at the First Battle of Ypres, at the age of nineteen. Of particular historic note is the false accusation of theft and forgery that was made against him (relating to a five-shilling postal order), while a thirteen year old cadet at the Royal Naval College at Osborne, which resulted in his expulsion in 1908. This eventually resulted in a sensational High Court case in July 1910, at which he was cleared of any wrongdoing. Substantial damages were eventually paid to Archer-Shee’s father, but only following a forced House of Commons debate. It has been claimed that the opposition to the granting of compensation was probably due in part to a prejudicial attitude to the Catholic faith of the family. The acquittal followed a successful defence mounted by Sir Edward Carson and became a cause celebre for the protection of human rights (especially those of a minor) from harsh and unfair treatment by the establishment. The case was dramatised, and Archer-Shee himself immortalised, by Terence Rattigan in his play ‘The Winslow Boy’ in 1946, which was filmed by Anthony Asquith in 1948 starring Robert Donat. The play has been regularly produced ever since, and further television and film versions made.

Following the completion of his education at Stonyhurst College in 1912, George Archer-Shee travelled to America to work for Wall Street firm Fisk & Robinson. He returned to England in 1913 to enlist in the army, and on 3 May was commissioned into the Special Reserve of Officers as a Second Lieutenant with the Third Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment. A few days before Archer-Shee went missing in action at Ypres, Sir Edward Carson’s nephew, Francis E. Robinson, fell on the same battlefield. Both are among those commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres, and Archer-Shee is on the Roll of Honour at the Church of St Mary on the Quay, Bristol (qv). Archer-Shee’s widowed mother and sister lived in Woodchester at the time of his death, in a house called Littleholme that has since been renamed Winslow House (qv). The other lives commemorated on the memorial were of local men whose sacrifice was no less tragic than that of George Archer-Shee.

Reasons for Listing

Woodchester war memorial, of 1920 date, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impacts of world events on this community, and the sacrifices it has made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Historic association: George Archer Shee, who is one of those memorialised, is a figure of historic note as the subject of a famous High Court trial in 1911 that would provide the inspiration for the notable play ‘The Winslow Boy’ by Terence Rattigan;
* Architectural interest: a well-crafted cross design in local stone;
* Intactness: the memorial is intact, and was repaired and restored in 2010.

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