Havant war memorial gets protected status

The war memorial next to St Faith's Church in Havant
The war memorial next to St Faith's Church in Havant
Picture: Pierandrea Guarnieri

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HAVANT’S war memorial has been saved forever after local campaigners managed to get it listed.

The Memorial Cross has been at the heart of the town since 1922 when it was built at a cost of £435.

CREATOR Henry Gray Wilkins was the stonemason for the memorial

CREATOR Henry Gray Wilkins was the stonemason for the memorial

But last year there was uproar when there was a suggestion that it could be relocated.

It came as Havant Borough Council carried out a consultation on a range of proposals to regenerate East Street, including creating a town square and moving it into a pedestrianised plaza or public gardens of St Faith’s Church.

Last autumn more than 1,000 signed a petition calling for the war memorial to stay where it is and campaigners held a protest.

The council’s planning officials later said there had been huge opposition to the suggestion and confirmed there was no intention to move it.

But local historians wanted to make sure its future was guaranteed at the ancient Roman crossroads.

John Pile, with supporting evidence from Ann Griffiths and Ralph Cousins, submitted an application to English Heritage for Grade II-listed status. It has now been approved.

A report by English Heritage states the memorial is of ‘elegant design’ and that it gives ‘an intimate commemoration of the fallen of Havant from both World Wars’.

Mrs Griffiths, from Langstone, said: ‘It’s very appropriate because of the centenary of World War One coming up next year. We felt it was important to have it listed. It’s important culturally and architecturally for Havant.’

The memorial, built of Portland stone, was unveiled and dedicated on September 30, 1922.

Major-General Sir John Davidson spoke of the courage and unselfishness of the men of Havant who had died for their country.

The stonemason was Henry Gray Wilkins.

His grandson, Flight Sergeant John Philip Wilkins, 21, was killed in the Second World War and added to the Havant Roll of Honour.

After hearing the memorial had been saved, 88-year-old Paul Wilkins, who lives in Petersfield and is John’s brother and Henry’s grandson, told The News: ‘I am absolutely delighted.’