Chippenham Town War Memorial
On 5th September 1916, the idea of having a war memorial in Chippenham was discussed. It was asked if a record was being kept of the men who were being killed and there was. The Parish Church was keeping a roll of honour.
The next time the idea for a memorial was discussed was after the war in January 1919 at a council meeting. Here they created a sub-committee to discuss what the memorial should look like/be. In April 1919 the committee decided on buying Monkton Park house and grounds and giving it to the public as a memorial. This was a very controversial decision as many preferred to have a real memorial not just a ‘pleasure ground’. The proposal for the purchase was put forward to the council in May 1919 and was rejected however this was mainly due to cost.
The council put the design of the memorial down to a public competition. There were many entries but the most popular design had the names of the 160 fallen inscribed onto the memorial surface. It was decided that the memorial should be in the market place as this was a prominent place in the town. Everyone could see the memorial if they were on London Street. The existing fountain was to be used for the memorial. The money needed to build the memorial was to be raised through public subscription.
The memorial was unveiled on 4th September 1921. Families of the fallen were given priority tickets as well as ex-servicemen. All ages and people turned up for the event. 175 ex-servicemen marched into the square under the command of Lieutenant Bishop and Sergeant Banks. The memorial was covered by a large Union Jack which was removed to unveil the completed memorial. A wreath in the shape of a cross was laid down in front of the memorial. The Last Post was played followed by a 2 minute silence which was ended by the Reveille. At the end of the ceremony Field Marshal Lord Methuen made an address.
In recent years the memorial has been renovated and more names have been added from WW1 and also WW2. However, it was introduced that only the next of kin could get the names added onto the memorial meaning that out of a long list of names produced, only 1 was admitted to the roll.
Clare Parry, John of Gaunt School, work experience student 2016