This rather plain Great War memorial has an exciting backstory. Originally it was in the Congregational Church on the corner of Humberstone Road corner with Newby Street.
Church services had been held in various rooms since 1872 until the church was built in 1888. Following the end of The Great War, a war memorial of a now unknown style was erected.
On 19th November 1940 the church was struck by a random bomb and sufficiently badly damaged for the building to be demolished in 1948. Until then services had been continued in the adjacent schoolroom and enterprising members of the congregation recreated the war memorial from timber taken from the old pews. It was designed to be suspended from pegs on the wall with two short platforms on which vases could be placed.
The schoolroom in turn was demolished in 1972 and the congregation was accommodated at Humberstone Road Methodist Church (Parry Street).
How the memorial came to be for sale is not known but its existence on e-bay was brought to our attention by a lady in Wiltshire, who had been searching for a lost memorial on which her great grandfather’s name on it. As with so many war memorials it only said “…men of our church…”
She took the trouble to do some homework and concluded correctly, that it was a memorial from Leicester and kindly contacted us. We looked and saw that it was for sale for £250! We also noted over the space of two weeks that unsurprisingly no bids had been received.
Contact was made with the vendor, and we explained that we do not buy or sell war memorials and suggested to him that he could donate it. This he said he could not afford to do. Eventually a couple of generous donors raised the modest sum he wanted, and the memorial was handed over.
Another piece of Leicester’ heritage preserved for the future. We then had the most extraordinary piece of good fortune. Someone who knew about our work, came across the impressive, framed Roll of Honour combined War Memorial in an antique centre in Brackley. We then had a virtual repeat performance, though in this occasion, we are extremely grateful to the Leicester Archaeological & Historical Society for giving us a grant to acquire this wonderful piece of art craftsmanship history. Serendipity indeed.
We are grateful to Andrew Moore author of “Where Leicester Has Worshipped” for significant help.
All Saints Church, Highcross St, Leicester LE1 4PH