Town's war memorial next in line for the big clean up

By Kevin Black in Community News

Over the last few years, Westerham Town Council has been working with Prelude Stone, a Westerham-based, family-owned company of specialist stone craftsmen, to clean and restore the three most prominent and loved statues in the town.

First, it was Sir Winston Churchill’s turn; then, that of General Wolfe and now Westerham’s War Memorial has been lovingly renovated.

Angela Howells, Town Clerk said:‘As part of the commemoration of the centenary of WW1, Westerham Town Council arranged for the town’s War Memorial, situated in St Mary’s Churchyard to be repaired and cleaned. The memorial has been a focus for the town since its dedication in 1920 and the excellent work completed by Prelude Stone will ensure that the memorial remains a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives in two world wars.’

The memorial was funded by public subscription and erected within the curtilage of Westerham’s Anglican church, St Mary’s at its invitation. As a result, its upkeep falls under the jurisdiction of the Diocesan Architect who therefore determined the extent of the work just undertaken.

Prelude Stone Contracts Manager, Levi Evans, said:“Certainly no one wanted to turn the memorial into a soulless lump of white stone, but we did recommend slightly more intensive cleaning to those areas most badly stained. The memorial has been under attack by both algae and lichen for nearly a century. Algae is a far more serious problem as it ‘eats into’ the stone structure as well as staining it and has therefore been fully remedied. Lichen, though, causes heavier black staining but is benign. The Diocesan Architect therefore stipulated, in accordance with the Church’s stated conservation practice, that the worse of the lichen staining be left as evidence of the memorial’s age, history and character. Now that the work is finished, we are extremely proud of the results, especially the repainted inscriptions (using a carefully chosen enamel) ensuring the names of all those who gave so much can, once again, be clearly read. Left unattended, Wealden sandstone succumbs slowly to the elements so the cleaning and repairs will help the Memorial stand tall through its next 100 years.”

The work has been undertaken by Prelude Stone through its Community Project Initiative and was funded by a generous grant from the War Memorials Trust, with contributions from St Mary’s Heritage Trust, the Westerham Society, the Wolfe Society and Westerham Town Council.

Photos show: Alan Wesley, Chairman of Westerham Town Council; Bill Curtis, Westerham Society; Tony York, St Mary’s Heritage Trust; Peter Hills, Westerham Society; the Rev Kevin Barnard, St Mary’s; David Boston, Wolfe Society and Levi Evans, Prelude Stone.

Prelude Stone’s Lee Regan restoring the enamel work to the lettering on the memorial.

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