The Barwick in Elmet War Memorial is situated at The Cross in Barwick in Elmet, at the end of Main Street. Only a few feet away is the famous Barwick Maypole. The Barwick War Memorial consists of three bronze plaques mounted on the new cross which stands on the base of the ancient village cross. The remains of the old cross now stand in the churchyard of Barwick's All Saints Church.
The following account was written by Mr Alan Senior and is taken from "The Barwicker", the journal of the Barwick Historical Society, and I am grateful to the society and in particular the former editor, Mr Arthur Bantoft, for permission to use it here.
"In 1919, a committee was formed to raise funds for, and subsequently erect, the Barwick War Memorial. Full details of this are aptly described by Arthur Bantoft in 'The Barwicker' No.39.
There is however no record of the existence of this committee in the Parish Council minutes until August 1920 when the Parish Council received a letter from its Secretary, Mr Arthur Booth. He stated that his committee wished to hand over the Memorial Cross to the Parish Council so that the same should be in the keeping of "the people's constitutionally elected representatives".
The Parish Council readily accepted the offer, provided that Colonel Gascoigne would give a written undertaking vesting the memorial "site" in the Parish Council for all time. Colonel Gascoigne had in fact previously written, as follows, to Mr Childe (Chairman of the Memorial Committee) on 25th, February 1919, already making such an offer:
I have much pleasure in making over the Village Cross at Barwick for the purpose of a Barwick War Memorial., providing that the Parish Council prepare whatever legal document there may be necessary for me to sign at their own expense.
Some ten or twenty years ago, the fact of my being Lord of the Manor saved what remains of this Cross from being turned into a Lamp Post, for which it was never intended.
I will tell Prater (Colonel Gascoigne's agent) to reply to you as above. I enclose £15 (Fifteen pounds) for the Fund and £10 from Miss Gascoigne.
Yours very truly,
(signed) RFT Gascoigne
After signing the letter, Colonel Gascoigne wrote: "I should think that if I give a written undertaking that I make over the Barwick Cross to the Barwick Parish Council that that will be sufficient".
Mr Childe sent a copy of the letter to the Parish Council, which contacted its solicitors, Bromet and Sons of Tadcaster, to make the necessary legal arrangements. The solicitors replied on 11th. May 1921:
We have now considered this matter and have also interviewed Colonel Gascoigne and Mr Prater.
It appears to us that the old Barwick Cross is not vested in the Colonel either as Lord of the Manor or otherwise, and this being so, he has no estate or interest therein to pass on to the Council.
We return the letter for filing and think you need not do anything further in the matter. We make no charge.
Bromet and Son
The Parish Council immediately took over the ownership of the Barwick War Memorial. The original cross, presumed to be a market cross, was transferred circa 1920 to an area near to the entrance porch of the Parish Church. I wonder if this cross should now be included, under recent red-tape arrangements in the list of assets of the Parish Council.
The memorial suffered "desecration" in August 1930 and following a request from the British Legion, was "railed off" with posts and rails for the sum of £10. 7s. 6d. Further "malicious" damage occurred in October 1930 and again in October 1932 - the cost of the repairs being 6s. 6d. The Parish Council resolved that the account be sent to the ramblers who were responsible for the damage."
The War Memorial was unveiled on 27th March 1920 by Mrs Kate Childe, of
Barwick, whose son Derrick was killed in the Great War. The ceremony was covered by the Yorkshire Evening Post in the same day's edition.
The plaque which commemorates the Barwick men who died in the Second World War was unvieled at a special ceremony on Sunday, 24 July 1949. The Rector, Reverend Canon Gray MA conducted the service, and the plaque was unveiled by Mr W. Senior in his capacity as Chairman of the Barwick in Elmet and Scholes British Legion.