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Burton in Wirral Peace Cross

A Grade II Listed Building in Burton, Cheshire West and Chester

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.2625 / 53°15'45"N

Longitude: -3.0226 / 3°1'21"W

OS Eastings: 331884

OS Northings: 374437

OS Grid: SJ318744

Mapcode National: GBR 7ZBQ.D5

Mapcode Global: WH87Z.J8W6

Entry Name: Burton in Wirral Peace Cross

Listing Date: 6 November 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1450305

Location: Cheshire West and Chester, CH64

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Electoral Ward/Division: Little Neston and Burton

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Burton

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Summary

First World War Peace Cross erected in 1917

Description

First World War Memorial Peace Cross, erected in 1917.

DESCRIPTION: Burton in Wirral Peace Cross is located on a grassed area along the main road through the village at the junction of The Village and Vicarage Lane. It takes the form of a stone wheel-head cross rising from a tall, four-sided plinth surmounting a three-stepped base. The inscriptions on the memorial are spread across the three steps on the front of the memorial. The top step bears the inscription WALK WHERE YOU WILL YOU WILL NEVER FIND/ A HIGHER ROAD ABOVE/ NOR SURER ROAD BELOW/ THAN THE WAY OF THE HOLY CROSS. The middle step includes a plea for peace GIVE PEACE IN OUR TIME/ O LORD and the bottom step bears the date of the dedication HOLY CROSS DAY SEPT 14/ AD 1917.

History

The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials erected across England. This was the result of both the huge impact on communities of the loss of three quarters of a million British lives, and also the official policy of not repatriating the dead which meant that the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss. However, this trend had its roots not in the wake of the war but in the midst of the conflict.

As the war progressed and the number of casualties increased memorials were already being built to remember the dead and those still serving on the battlefields abroad. These took the form of private memorials to family members but also a growing number were being erected by, or on behalf of, local communities. The earliest known example of a community memorial is thought to be the War Memorial in Rawtenstall Cemetery, Lancashire (Grade II-listed). Erected in September 1915 at the instigation of Councillor Carrie Whitehead, the intention is clearly inscribed on the memorial for it to act as “some comfort to those who lost men very dear to them.” Another form of early First World War community memorial was the street shrine. This practice originated in the East End of London, but was soon adopted in other towns to commemorate those from a particular street. In some instances these shrines also included relatives from other streets, while some covered whole districts. Surviving examples include those in Eton Street (erected October 1916) and Sharp Street (erected May 1917) in Kingston upon Hull. The erection of memorials in the midst of the conflict was considered controversial by some but by 1917 the desire among communities for some form of commemoration was clear.

The village of Burton in Wirral is an example of one such community which chose to erect a memorial before the end of the First World War as a permanent testament to the on-going sacrifice being made by members of the local community during the conflict. It was unveiled on the 14 September 1917 and was the community's plea for peace. There are no names recorded on the peace cross, although a marble Roll of Honour memorial tablet for the First World War is located in the nearby church of St Nicholas, recording the names of 14 servicemen.

Reasons for Listing

Burton in Wirral Peace Cross, situated at the junction of The Village and Vicarage Lane, is listed at Grade II for the following reasons:

Historic interest:

* as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this local community, and the sacrifice it has made in the First World War;
* as an example of an early First World war memorial which was erected before the end of the conflict.

Architectural interest:

* a well-executed example of a wheel-head cross.

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