Parish History

Parish War Memorial at The Ford

At the end of the Great War many people's thoughts turned to the commemoration of a victory over an enemy, which they had viewed as determined to destroy their country. Faced with the loss of so many of their loved ones, many communities decided to raise a structure in commemoration, the most popular of these taking the form of a stone cross, erected either in the church yard, or at some other prominent position elsewhere.

The people of Little Hadham were no exception, and represented by their Parish Council, after some deliberation decided on a memorial cross. By early 1919 the council had decided upon the site for the memorial and given permission for it to be so used. It would be a small piece of waste ground at the bottom of Ford Hill which was too small for cultivation or occupation and was therefore unclaimed and without any owner. It was moreover very suitable, being close to and slightly higher than the main road going through the centre of the village.

Memorials were being erected in many other small villages across the country once the community had accumulated the necessary funds. The exact cost of the Little Hadham memorial is not recorded. The source of the money is similarly unknown, and there are no records of any public subscription being organised. It seems unlikely that the money originated from the Parish Council since there is no mention of it in the minutes of any meeting. A more likely source is the village's principle benefactor Mr W. Minet at Hadham Hall, who had a major hand in the design, working with the Architect, (Mr A J Carpenter). The memorial made from Portland stone is simple in design, and hexagonal in plan, except for the cross at the top, which is treated in an unusual and creative way.

The cross stands on an hexagonal column of Portland stone, mounted on three sets of steps totally surrounding the column in a hexagonal shape. Altogether the cross stands five metres high. Messrs Daniel Robinson who originally constructed the memorial, recently estimated a modern day cost of £30,000 to replace it. This is equivalent to about £680 in old 1920's money.

The 1919 service of dedication was attended by the near relatives of the fallen, together with the school children and some 300 people gathered on the roadways. The Reverend J J Davies conducted the service, and the Chairman of the Parish Council, Mr J S Symons unveiled the memorial, and read the names aloud, pausing after each one to allow a child to come forward and lay a wreath. Of the wreath bearers, thirteen were chosen among the relatives of the deceased. One of them, Evelyn May Heath, still only four years old (born 22 October 1915) daughter of James William Heath, and Gertrude Kate Hardy.

Although the Memorial had now been built and dedicated, the site was still unfinished, and needed to be levelled down and turfed.  Frederick Harris wrote that "Mr Water Gillett, South Field builder, one day with two men, went to Westland Green, and just on the green on the Ford Road and near the pond. A large stone had laid there for many years. Walter saying it would be his respect to the men who had fallen. Having horse and cart from Mr Symons they carried it to the present site. Walter wanted one each for the other points, one from Lodge Farm, and the other from Bridgefoot Farm." This was only done for the first stone, a large piece of Hertfordshire Pudding Stone placed at the top end of the triangle of grass.

The Parish Council was much concerned about the upkeep of this area. At a meeting on 29th June 1920, Mr Symons proposed that "the custody, upkeep and maintenance of the memorial and the site be in the charge of Little Hadham Parish Council for the time being and their successors for ever". This was seconded by Mr N Gillett and passed. The following May they decided that the upkeep should be regularised. If it was left to voluntary helpers "they would soon slack off, and lead to neglect".

The council minutes show that this continued. For this work, in 1920 Messrs Gillett and Swallow were paid £2.14.0, in 1939 Mr B Gillett received £1.17.6, and in both 1941 and 1943, Mr H Gillett received £1.14.6.

The memorial was last cleaned by the Parish Council in 2010 at a cost of £455, grant aided by Hertfordshire County Council.

Dedication of the memorial.

Find out more:

Dedication of The Ford War Memorial

Those who died in the Great War named on The Ford War Memorial

Other memorials

References used in preparing the history of memorials