Restoration of Memorials
A project to restore memorials was undertaken by the Waterloo Association during the compilation of “Wellington’s Men Remembered”. Memorials are a means of preserving the memory of the dead and many include their military exploits, from Generals with their service records engraved in full on cathedral and church walls to Private soldiers whose family proudly inscribe all of the battles that they fought on small headstones in churchyards.
During the search for graves and memorials of Peninsular and Waterloo men, several have been found in need of repair and restoration. It is not possible to restore all of them as this is a very expensive undertaking. However over the years the Waterloo Association has managed to do several of these. Funds have been raised from members and especially those who attend Higham Hall Study weekend in the Spring.
One of the most notable restorations is that of Major William Norman Ramsay of the Royal Artillery who was killed at Waterloo. His grave was found in Inveresk churchyard outside Edinburgh which we were able to restore with help from the Royal Artillery in time for the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015.
William Ramsay before restoration William Ramsay after restoration
Others include Lt Colonel Robert Batty of the 1st Foot Guards in St Martin’s Cemetery in Camden Town in London who was wounded at Waterloo which was restored in time for the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo.
All ranks have been included in the restoration scheme. For example Cpl Thomas Birch of the 79th Foot in Presteigne Parish churchyard.
Some restorations have been achieved on the initiative of individual members who have raised the funds from local sources and the regiments concerned. For example:
- Private John Ross of the 92nd Highland Regiment of Foot in Penpont Churchyard, Dumfriesshire
- General Alexander Mercer Royal Artillery at St David’s Church in Exeter
- General William Bell Royal Artillery in St Nicholas Church, West Tanfield near Ripon
- Private George Arnold, 16th Light Dragoons in St Mary’s Churchyard, Pirton in Hertfordshire
- Colonel George Gawler, 52nd Light Infantry in Highland Road Cemetery in Southsea.
Headstones and memorials in churchyards have decayed over time due to weather erosion, lack of funds for churchyard maintenance and vandalism. Some of these stones are nearly two hundred years old and will not last for ever. However the records compiled for “Wellington’s Men Remembered” ensures that many of the graves have a published photograph in the volumes of this work.
If any members know of a memorial in need of restoration and recording, they could contact the Waterloo Association and perhaps start the restoration process themselves.
For further information contact Roger Ansell on firstname.lastname@example.org