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Witney war memorial mystery may stop it from being repaired
MYSTERY surrounding the origins of a Witney war memorial could block efforts to get restoration funding.
The town council needs information about the First World War memorial, in Newland, Cogges, so it can apply for a grant to restore it as part of the Great War centenary celebrations.
But they have hit a blank after being unable to find vital details on when it was installed, who paid for the memorial and who its architect was.
Chairwoman of the 1914 commemoration working party, Councillor Chrissie Curry, said: “We don’t have any information, which is a great shame.
“The memorial is in need of some tender loving care but we don’t have any paperwork on it, which is really odd. We don’t know if it was erected with money from public subscription or from a benefactor.”
The council wants to apply for a grant from the War Memorials Trust to fund repairs to the memorial’s chipped stone masonry, replacing two missing pinnacles and repointing it.
But it needs to provide more information to the UK National Inventory of War Memorials and English Heritage’s national monuments record, which have no mention of the Cogges memorial.
Ms Curry said details should have been passed over when Witney Urban District Council duties were split between Witney Town Council and West Oxfordshire District Council in 1974.
But all the council knows is the memorial was probably installed before 1937, when Cogges parish was merged with Witney, because the bottom of the plinth says “Cogges”.
Ms Curry said: “We would love to know if there’s any families who can tell us their relative came from Cogges and died in the First World War. It’s a pity there there’s no names on it.”
The inscription on one side of the memorial says Lest We Forget; on the back it says To The Fallen with the dates 1914-1919.
Although conflict ended in 1918, Ms Curry said the extended date was probably to mark the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, when war officially ended.
Ms Curry, of Corn Street, also believes there are similarities between the memorial and the Queen Eleanor crosses commissioned by King Edward I for his wife Eleanor of Castile following her death in the 13th century.
She is intrigued whether the architect drew inspiration from the crosses, a series of 12 stone monuments marking the route the Queen’s body was taken from Lincoln to London.
Witney historian Stanley Jenkins said there is a “Cogges roll of honour” with the list of fallen soldiers in St Mary’s Church in Cogges. He said: “There’s no mystery about the names. It would be unusual if there is no public record of the memorial being erected.”
Witney’s main memorial is in Church Green and there is a plaque in The Leys recreation ground.
s There will be a commemoration service on August 3 at St Mary’s in Church Green. Anyone with information can call Nichola Cayley at the town hall on 01993 704379.
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