Cromer War Memorial, originally designed by WD Caröe in 1919, had suffered severe wind-driven, seaward weather conditions over the years. A funding campaign was launched in 2014 by the then Mayor of Cromer to restore the memorial at St Peter & St Paul Church. By 2017, with the funds in place, Cromer Town Council were able to appoint conservation specialists to carry out the repair works including replacing the carved figures on the memorial.
Summary of the conservation work carried out
Cliveden Conservation were chosen for their expertise in the cleaning and repair of war memorials but particularly for their stone carving skills. The five figures which represent a soldier, sailor, airman, nurse, and the St George and Dragon figure had become so eroded that replica versions were required. Additional names of Cromer residents who died in the Second World War and subsequent conflicts, were also to be hand carved onto the base of the monument as part of the project.
The conservation team carefully removed the figures in their fragile state and took them to the workshop. Jem Hobbs, a specialist stone carver for Cliveden Conservation, carefully pieced, pinned and glued together parts which had broken off. Armatures were added to missing areas which were then remodelled using a mixture of cements, alabaster and stone dust. Each of the figures needed a new head as their features had eroded, also the detailed uniforms of the servicemen had been lost over time.
Using original photographs, Jem was able to recapture some of the original features of the statues. Where there was no visual evidence, Jem had to improvise by creating new faces. Extensive research was carried out into their uniforms for authenticity. Clay maquettes of the five figures and St George and the Dragon statue were carefully crafted and presented to the client for approval.
The team chose Ancaster stone to closely match the original stone type. This particular type of stone being fine enough to hold the detail of the 750mm statues and the intricate features such as their faces. To create the statues Jem used a mixture of carving techniques including the pointing method, triangulation and the carver’s eye. Although time was of the essence, Jem became very immersed in the creation of the characters – each one adopting their own personality.
All the figures were carefully fixed back in their rightful homes in the niches of the memorial. The conservation team also successfully carried out the rest of the work to the memorial including hand carving an additional 34 names to the base of the monument. Cliveden Conservation completed the project in time for the official unveiling and rededication of Cromer War Memorial November 2018 – the 100-year anniversary of the ending of the Great War..
Cromer Town Council
Advisory and material analysis | Stonework
Awards & recognition
Stone Federation Natural Stone Awards 2021
Cromer War Memorial: Joint Winner (Carving, Lettering & Sculpture)