The hundredth anniversary of WWI has created renewed interest to register and record the war memorials that were put up in almost every city, town and village in the country to commemorate the fallen after the Great War. Eynsham was no different.
The Eynsham War Memorial Committee raised funds to erect the memorial in the Square between the Red Lion pub and St Leonard’s church. It was unveiled and dedicated on Saturday 2 April 1921 with much ceremony and a church service officiated by Eynsham’s formidable vicar, the Rev William Nash Bricknell.
This memorial is voluntarily maintained by the Royal British Legion and Eynsham Garden Club, with assistance from the Parish Council – but it is not known who actually owns the land it stands on.
We know who owned it before. The Parish Council does have a poor photocopy deed showing that this was part of the Red Lion pub, then owned by Morrells Brewery. Emily Alicia Morrell (1854-1938) was orphaned at 10 when both her parents died and she became a very rich heiress. The War Memorial land was included in a trust created before her marriage to her third cousin, George Herbert Morrell (1845-1906). As a widow, her trustees conveyed the triangle of land between the pub and church to trustees for the Eynsham War Memorial Committee in 1921 for £5.
This land was bought for the War Memorial Committee by three trustees: the formidable Rev Bricknell; a retired British Army Officer apparently then living in The Gables; and Mr Edgar Sawyer of Newland Street. The copy deed the Parish Council has is only dated 1921, but as the memorial was dedicated in April, the committee must have got on with it.
Then the trail goes cold. Nothing seems to be known about the War Memorial Committee after their mission was accomplished. Did the trustees or their successors dispose of the land, or did they still own it on trust when they died? There are articles about the War Memorial in various issues of the Eynsham Record but these mainly focus on the men whose names are recorded, not the land or the monument itself. It is also not known who made the substantial Celtic cross with sword.
So … who owns it? Having just completed the Parish Council Property Register, I can say that the Parish Council doesn’t. Do you know who owns the land, or made the memorial? Answers on a postcard, or preferably on a conveyance – or just email me what you know and I will try and figure out what to do with the information.