The first official record of discussing a War Memorial comes in May 1919. It is written in the Church Parish meetings and Vestry Minutes. A Parish meeting had been convened on 22nd May. The minutes note briefly ‘Principal business – should there be a War Memorial? Motion carried’.
The Vicar (the Rev. Claud Edmunds) had received a letter written in March 1919 by the County Secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association, P. Escott-North. In it he wrote ‘….the probability is that if you are not already considering a War Memorial , you soon will be, and I beg therefore to draw your attention to the enclosed particulars of our Scheme which will acquaint you with it in broad outline.’ The Scheme in question was to provide YMCA ‘Institutes’ where young people in particular could meet and socialise in a relaxed and safe environment. Rev. Edmunds was very interested – he knew that the returning soldiers had spoken very highly of the YMCA’s work in providing refreshments and places to meet up – often within range of the guns. He introduced Escott-North to the members of the Parochial Church Council, and arranged for him to give a presentation to a Parish meeting on 17th June, where the idea of a Memorial Hall was adopted, and the work began to find the money and the land.
Other ideas had been suggested: a memorial cross at the junction of Far Street and The Stockwell, and a row of trees along the brook in Brook Street. (A row of Willow trees was planted later, but these do not seem to have been in memory of the fallen).
The cost – well over £1000 – was met entirely by the village, through collections, garden parties, whist drives and other events. By September 1922 the Memorial Hall Committee was able to buy premises off Clay Street from Trinity College Cambridge. The formal Indenture signed by all parties ensured that
‘The Charity hereby created shall be known as “The Wymeswold Memorial Hall” and is created with the object and intention of perpetuating the memory of the brave men of Wymeswold who gave their lives for their King and Country in the Great War…’
A year and a half later, the Hall was ready. In March 1924, the headmistress of the Infant school was wrote in her log book: ‘March 12th. A holiday was given this afternoon for the opening by Colonel Martin of the Village Hall. This is the War Memorial for those who fell in the Great War 1914-1918’.
And it still is.
Remembrance Sunday 2014. Dr Mike Pritchard unveils the new bronze memorial plaque at the entrance to Wymeswold Memorial Hall. Dr Pritchard is the grandson of the vicar of Wymeswold, Claud Edmunds, who started the campaign to build a Memorial Hall.
Left to right: Dr David Stocker, Heritage Lottery Fund; Dr Pritchard; Ivor Perry, author of 'Bringing Them Home - the story of the lost sons of Wymeswold'; Dr John Everitt, Heritage Lottery Fund.