This guidance is intended for anyone interested in or responsible for the care of war memorials. This might include parish, local and district councils, conservation professionals, contractors, statutory bodies, volunteer groups or private owners. Although the guidance covers the setting of war memorials, more detailed information on landscape issues can be found in the publication The Conservation and Management of War Memorial Landscapes. When it refers to ‘custodians’, the document is addressing anyone who has taken on formal responsibility for a war memorial, whether or not they are its legal owner.
The guidance describes current best practice on the understanding, assessment, planning and implementation of conservation work to memorials as well as their ongoing maintenance and protection. It also outlines the legal frameworks and statutory duties that relate to their ownership and care.
War memorials have always had a deep emotional resonance with the people of this country. Whether on a national, civic or local level, they act as constant reminders of the ultimate price of war – collective monuments to the many lives lost as well as a means of remembering the names of the individual servicemen and women who paid that price.
The majority of war memorials date from the 20th century, and most of those from the years after the First World War. National and city memorials were generally monumental in concept and size but in towns and villages they tended to be more modest in style. Whatever their appearance, they continue to act as focal points for the commemoration of those killed and affected by war and as places for reflection on the effects of their loss on a community and society as a whole.
In addition to their continuing commemorative role, many war memorials are of significant architectural, historic or artistic quality and have become key parts of the historic environment; it is therefore important that their physical condition should be safeguarded for the benefit of future generations as well as our own.