This project forms the culmination of a series of community events and activities about the effects of the First World War on this small rural community by way of a permanent tribute.
The community has been involved in a number of ways to mark the centenary of the First World War since 2014. This is particularly important because per capita the Parish of Buriton sent more men to the Great War than any other district in the Petersfield area. Sadly, through our research it has been discovered there were a number of casualties who died during the Great War or shortly afterwards who are not named on our War Memorial. Nor should we forget that soldiers, sailors and airmen left behind women, children and the elderly to fill their roles. This project aims to commemorate all those who suffered and were affected by war, past present and future.
Following a range of in-depth research undertaken by local residents to tell the story of the First World War “through local eyes”, this project has increased levels of awareness and interest in the community’s First World War heritage – and the idea of a permanent tribute marking the roles played by the entire community during the conflict as well as commemorating all those who died and suffered as a consequence, has gathered momentum. Significantly, the author of "Warhorse", Michael Morpurgo has provided written support for this project.
Public engagement, through a design competition for schoolchildren and households, followed by a ballot has resulted in an approved design for a permanent feature by way of a curved Portland stone bench, positioned sensitively into sloping ground behind the existing War Memorial, which will provide a quiet place for peaceful reflection and contemplation and also allow seating for the disabled. The new seat will give the existing memorial a central 360° perspective with the back of the bench depicting scenes of wartime activity at home and abroad designed by the community’s own professional sculptor, Andy Cheese. − The range of
images on the back of the bench will help people to think more extensively about the First World War and about its impact on the community of Buriton.
On the ground and infront of the Bench will be Poppy Roundel (designed by one of the children) made from a red stone with black granite centre. Around the Roundel will be the words "Remembering those affected by All Conflict" and in the centre of the Poppy will be the words "Never forgotten. Forever grateful." It will also enable the current generation of the community to reflect not only those who had the rest of their lives significantly affected and shortened by physical injury or mental suffering, but also to comprehend the enormous pain and grief experienced by the mothers, fathers and families of this small rural community, several of whom lost more than one son and by the widows and fatherless children. Sadly, through our research it has been discovered there were a number of casualties who died during the Great War or shortly afterwards who are not named on our War Memorial. The proposed Commemorative Bench will also be a fitting tribute to those who are not named. A significant number of volunteers have stepped forward to take part in this project bringing a wide range of skills and interests and all have been willing to devote significant amounts of time amidst busy lives. The costs obtained from two estimates indicates a total figure of circa £30,000 with approximately £13,000 already raised or pledged. If the Portland stone tribute can be created as a lasting community tribute, all the volunteers will be able to draw great pride from their contributions and commitment.
Seat back to be carved with scenes of wartime activity at home and abroad.
A picture of a similar example: