Cholsey War Memorial – New home at CGH

Val Bolt & Niall Hammond

Val Bolt and Niall Hammond were delighted to unveil the recently restored War Memorial in its new home, the foyer of Cholsey Great Hall, on 11 November.

Huge thanks to Niall Hammond (from Cholsey Repair Cafe and Cholsey CDT) for his excellent restoration. 

The wooden backing board for the memorial was found to be in a poor state of repair, being held together by the brass plates screwed to it, with the surface having paint splashes and peeling varnish. The first world war brass plate was scored and very dirty with the colour of the letters being indistinct due to the accumulation of dirt, some of the finer engravings were filled with brass polish and other residue. The second world plate was in much better condition.

Having removed the brass plates, Niall restored the wooden board. This it appears was repurposed from a larger board. The construction shows that it was made by a number of people with the techniques used being very different. The use of Pitched Pine and the manner in which it was made would suggest it was originally taken from a much taller board that had a panel, which had been cut down to make a shorter board on which the WWI plague was fixed. Pencil marks on some of the jointed boards suggest parts were originally made in the 19th century, possibly in the 1820’s.

The wooden panel joints were repaired using modern jointing techniques, which should see it hold together for many decades.

The WWI brass plaque was re-finished to remove the scoring and the letters and other engravings cleaned. Both plaques were then polished and refitted to the wooden panel.

Rather than make a new wooden board, Niall opted for the sympatric restoration method as the board which had been clearly made in two different phases is part of the memorial’s history. The combination of restorative work used when the original panel was cut down with the addition of more modern jointing methods now means the board has three phases to its construction, across three centuries, the 19th, 20th and 21st.