Memorial to Battersea’s civilian war dead is protected for future generations

Published: Monday 12th March 18

A memorial that commemorates civilians from Battersea who lost their lives in World War Two has been painstakingly restored by the council as part of an important local conservation project.

The Citizens of Battersea War Memorial in Christchurch Gardens has been fully refurbished as part of a £15,000 scheme overseen by the council’s conservation and heritage team as well as staff in the borough’s leisure and culture contractor Enable.

Cllr Cook at the restored memorial with Enable's parks development & biodiversity manager Valerie Selby

Repairs were carried out to the roof, its timber turret, its copper flashings and leadwork, gutters and rainwater pipes, the memorial’s pergola timber frame and to its paving stones.

The memorial offers sheltered public seating in the contemplative setting of a small neighbourhood green space off Cabul Road where people can quietly pay their respects to civilians from Battersea whose lives were mainly lost in Second World War bombing raids.

The centrepiece is a stone tablet upon which are inscribed the words: “To the memory of the men, women and children of Battersea who lost their lives in the World War 1939 – 1945”.

The monument was first unveiled in 1952, next to the ruins of a mid-19th century church which was itself bombed and destroyed during the war.

The replacement church that now stands at this location – Christ Church and St Stephen - was built in 1959. Christchurch Gardens was the original churchyard but converted to a public open space in 1885.

Following a lobbying effort led by the council, the memorial was awarded Grade II Listed status by English Heritage in March 2015.

Commenting on the conservation scheme, the council’s environment spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “This has been an excellent project to safeguard the future of a very important local landmark. 

“This is a monument to the ordinary men, women and children of Battersea whose lives were lost in the war, mainly as a result of bombing raids. 

“There are of course many memorials to the servicemen and women who fought and died in the war but very few exist to commemorate the victims of air attacks which took so many civilian lives, not just in London but in towns and cities across the country.

“I am delighted that that this special memorial in Battersea has been protected and preserved for future generations.”

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Recent comments

It is very pleasing to see that the Citizens of Battersea War Memorial has been restored. This was an iconic site within old Battersea which included the original Prince of Wales pub, the magnificent Victorian Christ Church (1849) and one of the first public gardens to be provided by a local council (1885). It was also, tragically, the landing place of one of only two V2 rockets to land on Battersea, on 21 November 1944, with the loss of five lives, and is therefore a fitting location for this memorial. Few local authorities at this time sought to honour their civilian war dead, certainly not as early as 1952; the building is a unique part of Battersea's townscape and should be preserved and enhanced for the generations to come.
Sue Demont

15 March 2018

You may also be aware that, in the autumn, every child from Christchurch School planted a daffodil for one of the civilian casualties who are commemorated in the memorial. These flowers are just coming into bloom now so everyone will enjoy the bright colour. This is another important way of honouring the sacrifice at home.
Geraldine Kelly

14 March 2018