History of Bramhall War Memorial

Welcome to the Woodford & Bramhall branch of The Royal British Legion 2022

BRAMHALL WAR MEMORIAL  100TH Anniversary December 18 2021 ( Bryan Goodwin)

 The erection of a Temporary Cenotaph in Whitehall designed by Edward Lutyens, for a Nation to pay its grateful respects to those who had fallen in the Great War, or the German War as some called it, was built for the first November 11th Act of Remembrance in 1919, with the intention  of having a a permanent Cenotaph constructed from Portland stone for the following year.

Its impact was for communities throughout Great Britain, to want to erect their own Memorial to honour their own local dead, in their own Towns and Villages, as more personal and fitting tribute to their fallen heroes. Remember there was no Television in those days, and simple Crystal Set radios were unreliable for people to tune into the Service in Whitehall. Even Picture Houses as we called earlier Cinemas in those days, were far and few between, for people to go and watch the Newsreels of the event.

In Bramhall, the Weslyan Congregation as they were known, decided to erect their own Memorial in the form of a Pulpit and Memorial Screen, and their Committee first met on February 9 1920 to plan and raise funds for them. It was eventually installed in 1922  and unveiled by Brigadier General John Barnsley, and dedicated on February 4th 1923

This prompted the people of Bramhall to decide that they wanted something more permanent, and just as in many other Communities, throughout the land, without any evidence of it being a “National Scheme”  in a good old fashioned British way, of muddling through Civic War Memorial Committees were set up everywhere resulting in a magnificent addition to our National Heritage.

 It was simply a matter of the “Great and the Good “ of a local Community grasping the initiative, to form a Committee, and in a deferential society,  it would have been obvious to everyone as to whom they should be.

Names would have been suggested and people sounded out and in no time there would be a committed body of people ready to take on the task, as there was a lot of local prestige and pride at stake, and they did not want to be left out, when neighbouring communities like Cheadle Hulme, Woodford and Poynton were also doing the same.

As a consequence a Meeting was convened on February 20 1920, which met in St Michaels Parish Hall, Chaired intiallly by a Bank Inspector, Richard Dobson, who lived at Newsham, Ogden Road, with his Wife, 5 children and their Cook and Housemaid. He was joined by the Vicar of Bramhall, Rev John Fleming Jones, and his wife, Captain Nevill owner of  Bramall Hall, and its parkland, the President and captain of the Golf Club, Business man William Royle, Miss Lee-Wood who was leader of the Guides, and met in a Wooden hut still known as the local Guide HQ, living at “ Arundel” ( now a Dental Practice ) and whose brother Captain Alfred Lee-Wood, was a local Hero, who had been killed in the first hour, leading his men “over the top” on July 1st on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme.They also included a Mrs Wadsworth, and a local Architect, Arthur Davies, who designed the Bramhall Memorial which was to built on the Mayfield, which surrounded Benja Fold Cottages, opposite the Grammar School ( now the Library) and which land was donated by W A Brocklehurst of Macclesfield. Orginally known as Mayfield Place, but now known as Roadside Gardens. Money was to be raised by Public Donation from the area.

The British Legion played little or no part in the Memorial planned, as they didn’t come into existence until May 1921, by which time most War Memorials had had been planned and probably Commissioned

The Memorial was to be unveiled and dedicated on Sunday, December 18 1921.

The unveiling was carried out by General Sir Henry de Beauvoir de Lisle, and it was dedicated by the Vicar of Bramhall, Rev John Fleming Jones whose son David planned to follow his father into the Church, but who was sadly to be killed in Burma in 1945, and whose name is now also on the Memorial.

There were hundreds, possibly thousands attending, and as today the road was closed to traffic. Children were assembled on the bank opposite the Memorial, where the Library and Surgery now stand, so the could get a better view of a very poignant Service, at which St Michaels Choir, led by the Choir master John Leech, led the assembled crowd and dignatories in first singing the Hymn”O God our help in ages past” followed by the Lords Prayer, before the Rev R. Bewick,  led a Prayer of praise and thanksgiving “ for the bravery, devotion and self sacrificing services, of the men both living and departed, who fought in defence of their country “.

This was followed by the Hymn “ The Saints of God” after which the Rev B W Jackson, standing in for his  unavoidably absent son, the Rev A W Jackson, offered a prayer for “ all who were stricken and suffering by reason of the War”.

The new Chairman of the War Memorial Committee, William Royle, who had succeeded Richard Dobson, who had become the Secretary of the Committee, then read out all the names of “all the husbands, sons, and brothers in whose honour we have erected this Memorial in order that they may never be forgotten”.

After which General De Lisle stepped forward and in ringing tones said “ We are met today to honour the memory of the men of Bramhall who paid the price with their lives for the victory that they won for England and the Empire in the Great German War “ he went on to say much more, and then he removed the Union Jack to unveil the Memorial, whilst saying ”To the Glory of God, and in memory of the fallen of Bramhall, I now unveil this memorial”

The Vicar of Bramhall, the Rev John Fleming Jones then dedicated the Memorial with the words

 “ to the Glory of God, and in memory of the men who gave their lives for country, home, and duty”

The Hymn “How bright these glorious spirits shine” was then sung, followed by the Vicar pronouncing the Benediction.

The Last Post was sounded, then 2 minutes silence was observed, before the National Anthem brought the brief,  but impressive ceremony to its close, after which a large Wreath on behalf of all ex Servicemen was reverently laid by a wounded Soldier.

There followed many more beautiful floral tributes from all the various, groups, bodies, Associations, and Societies in Bramhall, as well as from the general public attending, before the Dispersal.

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