The Norfolk villages missing a war memorial

Chedgrave parish councillor Matt Hubbard is leading plans to create a war memorial lych gate. Pictur

Chedgrave parish councillor Matt Hubbard is leading plans to create a war memorial lych gate. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

They are in different parts of the county, but the villages of Chedgrave and Mattishall have one unusual characteristic in common that distinguishes them from most other Norfolk communities – neither has a war memorial to honour their dead lost in the two world wars.

Now, 100 years on from the outbreak of the First World War, their local communities are working to rectify that.

Thirty-seven of the men from Mattishall who went off to fight in the two world wars never returned.

Their names are recorded in a plaque in All Saints Church, but not on any other monument in the village.

The scheme to erect a permanent memorial on the village green is being orchestrated by the parish council. It is planning to build it using salvaged bricks from the old school building, which was demolished at the end of last year.

Plans are currently with Breckland Council for approval and a fundraising bid is under way.

Luisa Cantera, the parish clerk, said most villages had a war memorial and it was 'quite unusual' not have one.

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The monuments were mostly built in the years following the end of the First World War – the majority by public subscription.

Almost a century on, Mattishall parish council is sticking to this formula, asking villagers to donate to the £8,000 project.

On envelopes which will be circulated in the village, a message reads: 'The Barlow Charity and the parish council have raised part of the needed cost of the £8,000 for the work.

'We believe that in this year that commemorates the losses of the First World War, many of the villagers would also want to support this important addition to Mattishall'.

The parish council decided to build a war memorial in the centre of the village after consultation with the community last year.

It is planned to unveil the war memorial at a remembrance service on November 9.

A number of churches and organisations, including the village school and scouts, will be involved and will lay wreaths. People will gather at the village green as the oldest person in Mattishall unveils the new lasting legacy of wartime sacrifices. There will be a service in the parish church, followed by refreshments.

Parish chairman Richard Norton said: 'No matter what you think of war, you need to remember those who have given their lives and this shows that.

'Although the project has been underwritten by the parish council, it would be good if people did contribute towards it so they will actually own it and know it's something they have done and can be proud of.'

Under the plans, the memorial will feature the two reclaimed chimney stacks from the old Victorian school.

There will be a wall linking the two pillars featuring a granite plaque engraved with the names of the 28 men who died in the First World War and the nine killed in the Second World War.

Anyone wishing to contribute should contact parish clerk Luisa Cantera on 01362 858786.

• As in Mattishall, the names of the dead from Chedgrave were inscribed in plaques mounted inside the village church.

Plans to build an additional, permanent memorial – to act as a focus for the community – are being lead by local parish councillor Matt Hubbard.

The scheme is at an early stage but Mr Hubbard, 41, said it was hoped a lych-gate memorial could be erected to replace the wooden gates at the entrance of the church, which are in a poor state of repair.

Mr Hubbard said: 'We've got two plaques in the church but we need somewhere for people to be able to lay wreaths on Remembrance Day.

'There is going to be seating both sides to make it a meeting place as well and we want the names of the First World War and Second World War soldiers to be inscribed on the front.

'We just want it to look really nice and do justice for the people who did their bit for our country.'

The council needs the permission of the local church council and then the Diocese of Norwich to go ahead with the work.

A design for the memorial has been drawn up by Bungay wood caver Mark Goldsworthy, and the project is estimated to cost £20,000.

Mr Hubbard said: 'I've just done 24 years in the RAF so I decided to take on the project as I've got a special interest in it.

'We did a Poppy Appeal last year around the village and at the same time asked residents what they thought and the overall census was to build a lych-gate as a memorial.

'As soon as they are happy with our plans for the lych-gate and the surrounding area we will start applying for funding.

'We are also going to do some fundraising ourselves and we started last weekend with our Picnic in the Pits event which raised just under £100 on our cake stall.

'We've got a long way to go but we want to do our bit as well instead of just asking for a grant for the full amount.'

The parish council is also hoping to work with the local schools to get pupils to do some more research into the men from Chedgrave who lost their lives, and hope to track down family members and people from their regiment to invite to the official launch when it is built.

Mr Hubbard said: 'We wanted to get it done in time for the start of the 100th anniversary of the First World War, but we want to do a proper job and don't want to rush it. It may take a while for the diocese to come back to us, but hopefully we can get it built in the next four years.'

The council has already been donated some bricks and slates to match the church from a local building company.

Anyone who would like to support the project and make a donation can contact the council here