During the first world war three quarters of a million Britons lost their lives. The official policy, adopted in 1917 with the creation of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was not to repatriate the dead but instead bury them in cemeteries close to where they fell. As a result tens of thousand war memorials were erected across Britain to provide focus for the grief felt back home for those who died.
The Shillingstone memorial is described as "a richly ornamented Portland stone memorial cross in the Celtic style" and was designed byFarmer and Brindley & Co Ltd of London. The initial intention was to erect the memorial in the churchyard itself, however it was decided that a local allotment at the corner of Knapps and Poplar Hill would make a more suitable location.
The War Memorial was first unveiled on the 24th September 1919 by the Countess of Salisbury andincluded a presentation from the War Office of a German field gun to stand next to the memorial in recognition of Shillingstone's specific contribution to the national war effort;prior to 31 January 1915, a total of 99 men from Shillingstone had volunteered to join the war effort out of a population of 565, the highest proportion of any village in the United Kingdom thus earning a proclamation from King George V of "The Bravest Village In Britain"
Severalinscriptions are carved into the memorial:
i. Panel to the front face of the foot of the shaft of the cross reads:
THIS CROSS/ WAS ERECTED/ BY PUBLIC/ SUBSCRIPTION IN/ MEMORIAM OF THE/ HONOURABLE PLACE/ TAKEN BY THIS/ PARISH IN THE/ GREAT WAR 1914-/ 1919 AND SPECIALLY/ OF THESE FROM ITS/ “ROLL OF HONOUR”/ WHO GAVE THEIR/ LIVES FOR THEIR/ COUNTRY.
ii. On the Base:
MESSAGE/ FROM H.M. KING GEORGE V/ "HIS MAJESTY WAS /GRATIFIED TO LEARN HOW/ SPLENDIDLY THE PEOPLE/ OF SHILLINGSTONE HAVE/ RESPONDED TO THE CALL OF/ THE COLOURS I IMAGINE/ THIS MUST BE A RECORD"/ SEPT 28 1914/
iii. The Roll of Honour 1914 -1918 at the foot of the memorial - contains 24 names
iv.The Roll of Honour 1939 -1945 at the foot rear side of the memorial - contains 8 names
Inside the Church of the Holy Rood, a gold-framed 'Roll of Honour' lists the names of the 24 servicemen from the parish who died for King and Country during the Great War of 1914-1918, stating where and when each man died.