This week in the Reading Room we had a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Pearson who were looking at the history of the War Memorial in Stratford, and its various locations around the town. Originally the War Memorial was unveiled at the top of Bridge Street in 1922, the couple found the report in the 1922 Stratford Herald which listed the names of Stratford's fallen in the First World War. We also found photographs of the event with crowds of people coming to see the memorial's unveiling, as well as a programme and detailed plans of the design of the monument in our archive.
Mr. and Mrs. Pearson were interested to find out more about the different locations of the memorial in the town and the dates that it had moved. At some point in the inter-war years traffic increased on Bridge Street and it is thought that a truck crashed in to the memorial, which prompted it to be moved down to the Bancroft Gardens next to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The photograph we have of the Memorial next to the theatre is dated circa 1932.
Finally after the Second World War, a Garden of Remembrance was opened in 1954, where the War Memorial is safely located to this day. We found fascinating photographs showing the monument being transported and positioned in the garden, as well as the order of service from the day the garden was opened. It was exciting to piece together different documents, photographs and accounts from parts of the collection to help Mr. and Mrs. Pearson find the answers they were looking for.
From Saturday 12 July 2014 there will be an exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War at Hall's Croft, located opposite the Garden of Remembrance. Follow the story of Stratford-upon-Avon and its people during the war through our local archive material, as well as Shakespeare's words on war, loss and patriotism.