Grasmere War Memorial

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Located on a low outcrop in Broadgate Recreation Ground stands the village war memorial. Dedicated to those who fought in both World Wars, the freestanding monument is of local slate and was designed by William Gershon Collingwood – secretary to John Ruskin. Born in Liverpool in 1854, Collingwood settled in Gillhead following an academic career at Oxford. Heavily influenced by John Ruskin and William Morris, he developed a life-long interest in Norse settlement, art and language which prompted his research into the Pre-Norman crosses of Cumbria and the north of England. An expert on Anglo-Saxon crosses, Collingwood also designed Ruskin’s grave in St Andrew’s Church in Coniston.

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Below the wheel head is the figure of a dove and below that a stag is trampling a dragon. An inscription below honours the men of Grasmere as follows: “In honour of the men of Grasmere who fought and in ever thankful memory of the men who died for God for King for home for freedom peace & right in the Great War.” There are no names listed on the memorial – the village dead are listed on a plaque in the nearby 12th century church of St Oswald.

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The memorial verse at the base of the monument reads: “These died in war that we in peace might live. They gave their best so we our best should give. Not for themselves, for freedom home & right. They died and bid us forward to the fight. See you to it that they shall not have died in vain.” The inscription was written by the poet, writer and conservationist Anglican clergyman Canon Hardwicke.D.Rawnsley who was the secretary of the memorial committee. Rawnsley had retired to Allan Bank in 1917 after serving as Vicar of Crosthwaite for 34 years. A close friend of Collingwood, it is thought likely that Rawnsley invited him to design the monument.

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