Lest we forget: restoring The Cenotaph's austere beauty

Blogger: GemSen On Sunday the nation held a two minutes silence to remember the war dead as part of the annual Remembrance service. In London, the Queen laid a wreath at the cenotaph in London, paying tribute to those who have died in conflict. Then 10,000 military veterans marched past this important monument. It happens every year, but it is still always a very poignant date, time and moment. Did you watch? Did you see how clean and good The Cenotaph looked? It was repaired this summer ready for the important Remembrance commemorations after English Heritage provided £60,000 for the work which started in April, earlier this year.

Maintenance is carried out every year but The Cenotaph's Portland stone is naturally susceptible to weathering and pollution so the iconic war memorial was in desperate need of some tender loving care and a deep clean. Culture Secretary Maria Miller, who is leading the Government programme to mark the centenary of the First World War said: "The Whitehall Cenotaph has a special place in everyone's heart.  The whole nation focuses on it every year on Remembrance Sunday, but all year long it serves as the perfect symbol of the deep debt of gratitude we owe to all our servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedom. It is almost 100 years ago since the First World War started in 1914 — the guns eventually stopped a gruelling four years later, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. With the First World War centenary looming, a light is being shone on the cenotaph along with other war memorials which are being restored and cleaned up with the help of funding. Apparently, now the build up to next year’s important anniversary has begun, the War Memorials Trust has seen a 40 per cent increase in inquiries about grants. “The Cenotaph’s austere beauty reminds us of the millions who died in the terrible events that happened all over the world between 1914 and 1918,” said Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage. “English Heritage is honoured to have responsibility for making sure the Cenotaph is in good condition for the commemorations. We are also working with the Heritage Lottery Fund and War Memorials Trust to aid the repair of war memorials all over the country.” The history of The Cenotaph The Grade I Listed Cenotaph that stands in Whitehall, London, was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and was requested and later unveiled by David Lloyd George in 1920. It was first built with wood and plaster and intended only as a temporary structure for the Allied Victory Parade. It didn’t take long for the decision to be made that the Cenotaph should be made permanent though and more of a stable and noble structure was made out of Portland stone. It is undecorated save for a carved wreath on each end engraved on it are the words: ‘The Glorious Dead’, chosen by Lloyd George. Also inscribed on it are the dates of the First World War and the Second World War in Roman numerals. The design was used in the construction of many other war memorials throughout the British Empire. Originally, it was intended to commemorate the victims of the First World War, but is now used to commemorate all of the dead in all wars in which British servicemen and women have fought. Is there a memorial in your area that needs restoring? Since 2004, English Heritage and the Wolfson Foundation have jointly funded a Grants for War Memorials scheme run in partnership with War Memorials Trust. So far £800,000 has been given out for more than 250 projects all over the country and from this year the annual amount available was doubled to £200,000 for the next two years. Individual grants of £3,000 to £30,000 can be given for up to 75% of costs for repair, conservation, cleaning and work to improve the legibility of inscriptions, along with professional fees and VAT and it is hoped that many more people will come forward to apply for grants in the next few years. For more information visit the English Heritage and War Memorials Trust websites. Do you know enough about your ancestors and their military past? You could find out more — there could be a war hero in your family just waiting to be discovered and remembered. Delve into the interesting world of military genealogy and search the Forces War Records site and let us help you start, or continue your genealogy quest… With next year’s centenary fast approaching, interest in the First World War is growing and there’s never been a better time to start researching this conflict and your ancestors who perhaps once fought in it. Source Wiki & Telegraph & English heritage

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