War Memorials Trust

Frequently asked questions

Below is a list (in alphabetical order) of the topics about which War Memorials Trust receives the most questions.  Please select the relevant topic to see the associated questions and answers.  If you cannot find the information you need, please contact us.

Adding items to a war memorial

Additions to gravestones

Addition of names to war memorials

Addition of non-commemorative plaques

Change of wording to inscriptions

Churches containing war memorials

Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials

Conservation contractors

Covid-19 / coronavirus memorials

Current conflicts - events and commemoration

Dates on war memorials

Dedication and rededication ceremonies

Definition of a war memorial


Government funding of War Memorials Trust

History of a war memorial

Importance of war memorials

Insurance of war memorials

Interpretation panels

Legislation and war memorials

List of all UK war memorials

Listing war memorials

Maintenance of war memorials

Names on war memorials

National Memorial Arborteum

National war memorial for those who fought in conflicts since 1945

New war memorials

Overseas war memorials

Ownership of war memorials

Phone masts

Photographs of war memorials

Planning in England and Wales

Preventing war memorial theft

QR codes and war memorials

Redevelopment of war memorial land

Relatives on war memorials

Relocation of war memorials

Replacing damaged, lost or stolen metal items

Sale of war memorials

Structures near war memorials

Symbols on war memorials

There But Not There / Silhouette Figures

VAT and war memorials

Victoria Cross paving stones

War graves

Wreaths on war memorials

War Memorials Trust's geographical remit



Can items be added to a war memorial?

War Memorials Trust is often contacted for advice about adding items and ‘tokens’ to war memorials. These may include flags, flagpoles and other items related to the military, an individual commemorated on the memorial or associated with war and remembrance. In 2014 a number of enquiries were made related to the ceramic poppies displayed as part of the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London.

War Memorials Trust does not recommend that additional items are fixed directly to war memorials. There are a number of reasons for this including that depending on the fixings used and the condition of the memorial, damage could be caused to the memorial; adding additional items to a memorial can detract from the focus of the memorial and its original design intention; depending on the proposed item it could also negatively impact on the appearance of the memorial and adding items sets a precedent which could negatively affect the appearance or condition of the memorial. War Memorials Trust instead recommends that it is considered whether the items are more appropriately placed elsewhere or if they can be incorporated into the wider setting of the memorial. Whether this is possible will depend on the specific situation and should not detract from the memorial or its setting.

The addition of an item to a memorial would require permission from the owner or custodian and any legal consents required, such as Listed Building Consent if the memorial is listed.

What does WMT do to assist war memorials that take the form of 'Additions to gravestones'?

War Memorials Trust's definition of a war memorial includes additions to gravestones. These examples can be added to War Memorials Online to provide a record and condition update.

However, War Memorials Trust does not actively engage with these cases in regard to repair and conservation. Such memorials are not eligible for funding from schemes administered by the Trust. The reasons for this are that the issues surrounding additions to graves are extremely complex due to the presence of human remains and issues of ownership. Gravestones are often the responsibility of the family who may or may not be traceable and the responsibility for the site of the gravestone may not be straightforward. In addition, the memorial inscription is a very small part of the gravestone making WMT's role quite limited as funds could not be used for the whole structure but only the actual additional war memorial inscription.

Such cases can therefore be very time consuming and are difficult to find a resolution. With its limited resources WMT cannot therefore deal with the significant number of such cases. As such we are not able to help with additions to gravestones through our casework or to offer funding for their repair.

However, if you do have a concern relating to the condition of gravestones with war memorial inscriptions there may be other approaches you can take such as contacting the custodian of the cemetery and raising the concern. Caring for God’s Acre may be able to advise. In addition English Heritage has published guidance Caring for Historic Graveyard and Cemetery Monuments and Historic Scotland has published guidance Conservation of Historic Graveyards, Practitioners Guide 2.

Can names be added to existing war memorials?

Please see our 'Addition of names to war memorials' helpsheet for further information.

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Can non-commemorative plaques be added to war memorials?

War Memorials Trust is sometimes approached for advice on the addition of non-commemorative plaques to war memorials. These include plaques marking events such as the Queen’s Jubilee and centenary of the First World War, repair or restoration projects and the funders of these.

War Memorials Trust does not believe it is appropriate for plaques to be added to war memorials that do not sympathetically reflect the original purpose of the memorial in question. This is because the intended purpose of the memorial is changed by such additions. War memorials provide a focus for commemorating those who have fought or fallen in a conflict and this importance should not be detracted from through unsympathetic additions. It is also important to remember that memorials are for the use of the whole community and their views should be consulted.

The addition of items which do not relate to the original intention of the memorial can often cause distress to the family members of those commemorated. They can also have a dramatic impact on the appearance of the memorial and it is not sustainable to continue adding plaques in such a manner once a precedent has been set.

In addition, many war memorials will be protected through the planning system, either by being within a conservation area or being a listed structure. Permission will often be required for any additions as they may cause damage to the structure by inappropriate fixings and/or materials being used, as well as altering the aesthetics of the memorial.

The Trust has additional guidance on the addition of QR codes and Victoria Cross paving stones to war memorials.

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Can the inscriptions on war memorials be changed?

War memorials are historic structures that were erected by communities to commemorate the fallen. At the time, as remains the case today, decisions will have been made locally as to the appropriate form and wording of a memorial so there is no format or protocol which has to be followed.

In some cases these decisions may not appear appropriate to us when considered in a modern context. However the age of these structures and the era in which they were erected needs to be recognised when considering any changes. It is always difficult to assign modern interpretation and meaning to an historic structure as these modern viewpoints often conflict with the views, understanding and social conventions of the time. As a conservation charity War Memorials Trust feels that it is rarely appropriate to do so. Contemporary attitudes to historic terminology will also continue to change over time and it is not feasible to constantly change the wording so it is in-line with modern thinking.

For example, the use of the word ‘men’ within an inscription may today be perceived as a gender specific statement. However it should be recognised that historically the use of the word was considered gender neutral and therefore made reference to both the males and females that may be listed on the memorial.
Changes to inscriptions or names can change the focus of the memorial which was deemed appropriate by those who erected it and used it to commemorate their loved ones. It can also be detrimental to the original fabric if it requires extreme intervention. Therefore any changes should be carefully considered and Listed Building Consent may be required for any changes to listed memorials.

War Memorials Trust recommends that the wishes of those who erected the memorial are respected. Alternatives to changing the memorial directly can be considered. It may be appropriate to consider whether a nearby notice board with information may assist in addressing such issues. In some cases, such as the inclusion of formally excluded groups, the most appropriate course of action may be to create an additional memorial structure nearby. Remember, such issues can form part of education programmes around the memorial and can be highlighted in any literature that may be produced. You may find our Learning Programme (hyper link) website of assistance with this.

Ultimately any decision on changing wording lies with the custodian of the war memorial and there should be community consultation regarding any proposed changes.

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What issues arise with war memorials in Churches or Churchyards?

Please see our 'Churches containing war memorials' helpsheet for further information.

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Does War Memorials Trust give grants to, or advice about, Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials?

Some war memorials in the UK are the responsibility of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). CWGC maintain and manage these memorials as part of their remit in the UK and overseas. Any concerns or queries about CWGC memorials should be addressed directly to the Commission. War Memorials Trust can assist with reporting these concerns and give advice on war memorial related issues. However as the CWGC is funded directly by the Government War Memorials Trust will not consider applications to its grant schemes for work on these memorials as it is the responsibility of the Commission to fund this work.

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Does War Memorials Trust have a list of approved contractors for the repair and conservation of war memorials?

Please see our 'Conservation contractors' helpsheet for further information.

Can War Memorials Trust assist with memorials to Covid-19 / Coronavirus? And should any such memorials to victims be placed alongside war memorials?

War memorials commemorate those impacted by war or conflict. They generally represent the graveside, a place to grieve for those whose family and friends are buried overseas. They do not commemorate the conflict or war per se but the people whose lives were ended, changed or impacted by it.

Covid-19 is a medical virus, not a war or conflict so War Memorials Trust cannot fund any memorials to those impacted by it.

If people are considering placing memorials to those impacted by Covid-19 near to a war memorial, or within a war memorial garden or park War Memorials Trust would encourage extensive community consultation. For many, war memorials have a specific purpose associated with those impacted by conflict and changing that may cause upset. Others may feel that such spaces can have a wider commemorative function. Ensuring people have an opportunity to comment and reach a decision that is right for their community is important. It ensures people are comfortable with what happens to their war memorials and avoids sites becoming contentious or at risk.

War Memorials Trust would not support any existing war memorials having Covid-19 victims added as war memorials commemorate those impacted by war or conflict. Any memorials to Covid-19 should clearly be different e.g. a separate plaque not attached to the war memorial or another form of memorial. 

Can war memorials be used to mark current conflicts, wars or events anywhere in the world?

War memorials are important places where we remember historic or current conflicts, wars or events.

There are no rules about 

  • how a war memorial is used
  • who wreaths are laid for
  • what is left as a tribute
  • flags
  • what people do at events

People can choose what they think about when they are there.

People may gather at a war memorial with or without permission. Often people do not know that there is an owner that can give permission. It can depend on the location of a war memorial. 

War Memorials Trust recommends that communities discuss potential events to avoid problems. War memorials are looked after locally so talking about how to use it will help the community make decisions. If there are problems, having different events at separate times can help everyone use the war memorial.

Some people believe that the people whose names are on the war memorial should be the only ones remembered. Others think the war memorial represents everyone effected by war. Some people believe that war memorials in this country should only be used to remember events involving this country. Others believe a war memorial is a place to remember any war.

If an individual or organisation owns or looks after a war memorial, they may want to create rules. War Memorials Trust would encourage them to consult with people in the community if they do. It is important everyone talks about the issues and understands the decisions.

A war memorial that people use will survive. How people use it may change but that is not wrong. War memorials are a shared space for all of us to pay our respects.


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Why do some war memorials have the dates of the First World War as 1914 – 1918 and some have 1914 – 1919?

Please see our 'Dates on war memorials' helpsheet for further information.

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What form should a war memorial dedication/re-dedication ceremony take?

Please see our 'Dedication and rededication ceremonies' helpsheet for further information.

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How does War Memorials Trust define a war memorial?

Please see our 'Definition of a war memorial' helpsheet for further information.

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How can we raise funds for the restoration of our war memorial?  How can we raise funds for a new war memorial?

Please see our 'Helping your fundraising' helpsheet for further information.

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Does War Memorials Trust receive government funding?

War Memorials Trust has not traditionally received any government funding. We are an independent charity and as such rely entirely on voluntary donations. However, during the centenary of World War I the charity was part of the First World War Memorials Programme and received £3 million in one-off additional funding to support the repair and conservation of World War I memorials. It also benefitted from Scottish Government support through the Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund during the same period.

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How can I find out the history of a war memorial?

Please see our 'Researching the history of a war memorial' helpsheet for further information.

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Why are war memorials important?

Please see our 'Importance of war memorials' helpsheet for further information.

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How do I insure a war memorial?  Can War Memorials Trust recommend a firm to insure a war memorial?  Can War Memorials Trust provide a valuation of a war memorial for insurance purposes?

If you want to insure your local war memorial you will need to approach your insurance provider to ask if this is possible. As part of this enquiry the provider will normally ask for a valuation for the war memorial. This should be based on the cost of a complete replacement if the war memorial were lost. As a result you will need to contact a suitably qualified professional, such as a stonemason, to ask for the cost of a complete replacement. War Memorials Trust is unable to value war memorials and nor are we able to recommend particular insurance providers.

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Does War Memorials Trust support interpretation panels around war memorials?

This question should be read in conjunction with Can items be added to a war memorial?Addition of non-commemorative plaques and QR codes and war memorials.

Ultimately any decision on what happens to war memorials lies with the custodians/owners. However, WMT would always encourage consultation with the community as our war memorials were generally erected by public subscription.

The Trust would oppose anything being added to an actual war memorial as this may cause damage. It is also important to ensure any necessary permissions are obtained to add panels/plaques etc to a site.

However, the inclusion of interpretation panels around or near a war memorial is not something the charity would automatically oppose although it would encourage consideration of the war memorial setting and style of any addition. Interpretation can enhance public understanding of a war memorial, its history and those commemorated. They can help preserve our war memorials by ensuring what they represent is understood. In certain circumstances they can be a way of recording fading names eg if the original names cannot be conserved as the inscriptions are too small to be re-cut or raised. Information boards can explain conflicts or symbolism e.g. the Trust receives reports of broken monuments which are actually columns designed to appear broken as a traditional symbolic memorial design which people can be unaware of. Interpretation can also help provide young people with additional information or be used to display QR codes or other mechanisms that people can use with smartphones to access digital information.

As with most war memorial issues a careful assessment of each individual war memorial is needed to identify if interpretation is appropriate. It can be a useful tool in educating people about our history and war memorial heritage.


What legislation covers war memorials?  Does War Memorials Trust have any legal powers?

Please see our 'Parliamentary Acts related to war memorials' helpsheet for further information.

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Does War Memorials Trust have a list of all the war memorials in the UK?

War Memorials Trust only holds information about war memorials which we have helped through our grant schemes or casework.  As a result the Trust does not have a definitive list of all the war memorials in the UK.

The Trust recommends contacting the UK National Inventory of War Memorials based at the Imperial War Museum (T: 020 7207 9863/9851, W: www.ukniwm.org.uk).  The Inventory aims to compile a comprehensive record of all war memorials in the UK.

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What is listing?  Why should war memorials be listed?  How do I apply for a war memorial to be listed?

Please see our Listing pages for more details.

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How can I maintain a war memorial?  How do I know if a war memorial needs restoration or conservation?

Please see our 'Advice on maintenance of war memorials' booklet'Looking after your war memorial' and 'Preparing a method statement' helpsheets for further information.

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How can I research the people named on a war memorial?

Please see our 'Researching the names on a war memorial' helpsheet for further information. 

There may also be details on the 'Lives of the First World War' website run by the Imperial War Museums.

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Where is the National Memorial Arboretum?

The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK’s living and lasting memorial to commemorate those who have served their country, died or suffered as a result of conflict. It is located on Croxall Road, Alrewas, Staffordshire DE13 7AR, T: 01283 792333, W: www.thenma.org.uk.

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Is there a national war memorial for those who have fought and died in conflicts since 1945?

The Armed Forces memorial is the first national memorial dedicated to the men and women of the UK Armed Forces (Regular and Reserve) killed on duty or as a result of terrorist action since the Second World War. It is situated at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

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Does War Memorials Trust fund the creation of new war memorials?  Why does War Memorials Trust not fund the creation of new war memorials?

Although War Memorials Trust supports projects to create new war memorials, we are unfortunately no longer able to help with their funding through our grant schemes.

There is a very high demand for our grants which means that we have to prioritise those projects which we are able to support with our very limited resources.  The Trust’s work must, therefore, be focused on the conservation and repair of existing war memorials.

Please see our 'New war memorials' helpsheet for further information.

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Does War Memorials Trust have any information about overseas war memorials?  Why does War Memorials Trust not fund work to overseas war memorials?  Why does War Memorials Trust only operate in the UK?

War Memorials Trust’s remit only covers war memorials in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man and so we do not hold information about overseas memorials.

Although War Memorials Trust understands the significance and importance of the many overseas war memorials, we are unfortunately unable to help with the funding of their restoration and conservation through our grant schemes.

The UK National Inventory of War Memorials estimates that there are over 100,000 war memorials in the UK which means that we have to prioritise those projects which we are able to support with our limited resources.  The Trust’s work must, therefore, be focused on the conservation and repair of existing war memorials in the UK only.

Please see links to the websites of memorial-related organisations which operate overseas.

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Who owns/is responsible for war memorials?

Please see our 'Ownership of war memorials' helpsheet for further information.

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Should mobile phone masts be erected on war memorial sites?

War memorials come in many shapes and forms. Dealing with issues such as mobile phone masts would need to be assessed in relation to each case individually. However, the Trust has some principles it would follow in such instances.

Ultimately the decision about whether a mast can be located on/in/by a war memorial would be the decision of the custodians of the war memorial/owner of the land.

War Memorials Trust would encourage custodians to consider whether the mast would:

  • cause any damage to the physical memorial
  • impact upon the setting of the memorial 
  • impact upon the experience of those visiting the memorial to pay their respects

Some examples of cases where this issue might arise include:

  • war memorial parks/fields – a mast placed within a green space is unlikely to impact upon the war memorial itself. Examples of when War Memorials Trust would be concerned would be if installing a mast prevented permanent access to the land which prevented the park/field fulfilling its function as an accessible war memorial or if any war memorial elements were to be removed or damaged to facilitate the mast e.g. felling of commemorative trees or removal of dedicated benches
  • war memorial clock-towers – masts can be installed in church towers which may include places where war memorial clocks and clock-towers are located as part of the church. Examples of when War Memorials Trust would be concerned would be if installing masts changed the appearance of the war memorial element or prevents the war memorial clock from working
  • freestanding war memorials – a mast placed next to a cenotaph, obelisk or cross would cause War Memorials Trust concern if it detracted from the setting of the memorial and or prevents people from visiting the memorial, for example if a mast was installed next to a war memorial situated in a picturesque location on top of a hill 

Does War Memorials Trust want photographs of my local war memorial?

If you would like to share photographs of your war memorial then we encourage you to upload these to War Memorials Online. The website is seeking to create greater understanding of the condition of war memorials across the UK and anyone can upload information, photographs and complete condition surveys.

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Do I need any permissions or consents from the local planning authority to carry out works to war memorials?

Please see our 'Planning in England and Wales' helpsheet for further information 

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How can I prevent theft from war memorials? What should I do if a theft has occured?

War Memorials Trust has published guidance with English Heritage and Historic Scotland on how to prevent theft from war memorials and what to do if a theft has occured. The guidance is also applicable in Wales.

Please see our 'War Memorial Theft' helpsheet for further information.

Does War Memorials Trust support the use of QR codes on war memorials?

QR codes can be an innovative way of allowing people to engage with a memorial. In particular it allows for a potentially large amount of information on the history of a memorial and those commemorated on it to be readily accessible. This helps to ensure people are aware of the purpose of the memorial. In addition, helpful information such as custodian details or information about a current or previous repair project could be included, for example through a link to War Memorials Online or War Memorials Trust’s Grants Showcase. The benefit of a QR code is that this large amount of information can be accessible without being invasive to the memorial or significantly affecting its setting, which is not always possible with traditional interpretation boards.

However, War Memorials Trust does not support the addition of the code to the memorial itself (including its railings or boundary features). There are a number of reasons for this including the potential damage to the memorial through fixing the code as well as the impact upon the appearance of the memorial. It is possible that listed memorials would require Listed Building Consent for such an addition. Therefore, it is recommended that a suitable and sensitive location near the memorial is used to display the code. The options will vary depending on the type of memorial and its location but something unobtrusive and non-permanent is usually recommended, for example a QR code for an external memorial could be displayed on a simple wooden stake nearby. This is something which could be removed if required without disturbing the memorial in any way and causing minimum intervention to its surroundings.

There is further guidance on the Trust’s website regarding the addition of non-commemorative plaques to war memorials

Our war memorial land/park/open space is being considered for redevelopment, what can be done?

War memorials in the form of open space, parks, landscapes or playing fields are not uncommon. However, often they are not recognised as ‘war memorials’ because they do not meet a common perception of a memorial as a monument or plaque. Communities who chose open space memorials often did so in memory of the young men who fell in small, confined spaces such as the trenches but would have used the outside space had they returned home. These memorials were sometimes not ‘dedicated’ or marked with a plaque etc. but form part of a community being recognised through its oral history so these open spaces can be vulnerable in today’s world to redevelopment.

War Memorials Trust has no legal powers to decide what happens to war memorials. As an independent charity with limited resources we can assist as outlined below. It is likely any redevelopment plans for open spaces will have to go through the formal planning system and, like everyone else, War Memorials Trust is able to submit comments but these do not necessarily have greater weight than others. We hope that communities will recognise this and accept that there is a limit to the role of the charity in such cases.

War Memorials Trust would suggest in the first instance it is important to clarify the ownership of the land and whether any covenants are in place. A covenant is a legal document which might give requirements for how the open space is to be managed or used. The Trust’s helpsheets on Ownership of war memorials or Researching war memorials may assist in helping you identify ownership if it is unknown. Alternatively, you can undertake a search with the Land Registry to confirm ownership.

  • If ownership is clear, then this helps in identifying what the next steps should be
  • If ownership is unclear, and often when war memorials were created ownership was left uncertain, the situation is obviously more complex and you may require independent legal advice. You may be able to obtain this for free from legally qualified people who share your concerns in the community or via some of the Pro Bono services or charities who offer free legal support for community or charitable activities - these can be found via internet searches. 

There are mechanisms to protect open spaces with the owner’s consent. Fields in Trust is the independent charity that works to protect parks and green spaces and they may be able to offer some advice about how to protect open spaces.

War Memorials Trust can:

  • Comment on any Planning Applications but will not automatically receive them; it relies on local communities/individuals alerting us to them if they are concerned 
  • Provide supporting statements such as the content of this FAQ, where appropriate, to highlight the importance of the war memorials, its original location, design or function. If the community at the time, chose an open space for community benefit War Memorials Trust believes this intent should be respected and maintained 
  • Provide best conservation practice advice on how to appropriately incorporate war memorial elements into redevelopment proposals if they are being proposed/ implemented by developers

War Memorials Trust cannot:

  • Provide legal advice as we do not have specialist staff on this – you will need to obtain independent legal advice as discussed above 
  • Coordinate local campaigns – with 100,000 war memorials across the UK and just 6 conservation staff we can provide advice and guidance with our limited resources but cannot take the lead. The Trust’s experience has been that campaigns spearheaded by local communities are often the most effective as you have greater local knowledge of the situation and more influence on local politicians/officials who make the decisions within the community 
  • Fund relocation of war memorials that are moved due to development – redevelopment proposals should always be checked to ensure that any such works are costed and paid for by the developer making changes 

Can you tell me where my relative is commemorated?

War Memorials Trust only holds information about war memorials which we have helped through our grant schemes or casework.  As a result the Trust does not have a definitive list of all the war memorials in the UK nor those commemorated on them.

The Trust would recommend contacting the UK National Inventory of War Memorials based at the Imperial War Museum (T: 020 7207 9863/9851, W: www.ukniwm.org.uk).  The Inventory aims to compile a comprehensive record of all war memorials in the UK and maybe able to provide the location details of war memorials which could potentially feature a relative’s name (e.g. war memorials in the area where the relative lived or worked, regimental war memorials, work place memorials, etc).

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Can war memorials be relocated?  How do I relocate a war memorial?  Does War Memorials Trust fund the relocation of war memorials?

Please see our 'Relocation of war memorials' helpsheet for further information. Please note that War Memorials Trust can only provide advice about relocation and is unable to take on any memorials or relocate them.

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What should we replace the metal items on our war memorial with if they are damaged, lost or stolen?

War Memorials Trust believes it is important to respect the choices made by the family and friends of those remembered on the memorials. Those who lost loved ones chose memorials they felt were appropriate and mourned their loss at these memorials, which replaced the graves of those buried overseas. Therefore the historic integrity of a memorial should be respected and the same materials used where possible.

The use of different materials to replace metal has to be approached cautiously and with due consideration. Using alternatives to metal may speed up the process of decay or weathering. Materials may have been interacting chemically for many years and suddenly changing this combination may have a negative effect on what remains causing the memorials to decay at greater speed.

Alternatives may not last as longer as metal and whilst initially cheaper (although not in all cases), regular replacement may end up being more expensive in the long-run. Research is ongoing by different groups into the viability of alternatives but as yet there is no clear answer meaning that alternatives may have as many risks as the metal option. The Trust is aware of recent cases of attempted theft of metal substitute plaques which still results in damage to the memorial. There is also an aesthetic impact on the memorial as a whole and adding an alternative material may negatively impact the appearance of the memorial.

We understand that people may fear further thefts but replacing with an inferior substitute can feel like letting the criminals win. War Memorials Trust believes there are precautions that can be taken to deter theft and prevent further attacks. In Memoriam 2014 is an opportunity for local communities to protect their war memorials with SmartWater, free of charge thanks to the SmartWater Foundation. Custodians should apply at www.inmemoriam2014.org to obtain the SmartWater to use to mark the metal elements on their war memorial. In addition, War Memorials Trust publishes a helpsheet on preventing theft which can be downloaded from our website. This gives advice and guidance enabling local communities to take control and act to protect their war memorials. Please also see our ‘Conservation principles’ helpsheet which outlines the importance of like-for-like replacement in further detail.

In extreme cases where a memorial is subject to repeated vandalism or theft the Trust recommends that any alternative materials used are ‘traditional’. The Trust does not recommend or support replacement of stolen metal with resin replica substitutes. Instead, depending on the memorial, a matching stone plaque may be more appropriate.

It is important to note that if a memorial is listed, listed building consent will be required for alterations to materials. 

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Should war memorials be bought and sold?  What should I do if I see a war memorial for sale?

Please see our 'War memorials for sale' helpsheet for further information.

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Should buildings, cafes, bars or other structures be built near to war memorials?

It is important to check whether any planning permissions, or other legal consents, are required for the introduction of structures particularly if a war memorial is listed as its historic setting will need to be considered.

There are no rules that mean a war memorial, or the area around it, must be treated in a certain way. Whilst a community with a village cross may keep a space for quiet reflection around it, another community will be different. Those with social club war memorials have a space to gather and noise is expected. This reflects the varied choices about the types of war memorial communities choose at different times – many communities opted for practical war memorials that people could use and enjoy. Remembrance as silent reflection is not the only approach to commemoration. 

The way people interact with their war memorials changes over time. And different people have different ideas about what is and is not appropriate or respectful. War Memorials Trust believes it is vital that a community is consulted on changes so everyone can express their opinion and an appropriate consensus reached having considered all options and opinions. Unanimous consensus may not be reached but it is important that all views are heard and considered. Compromises may help e.g. ensuring periods of quiet, using some areas of a site but not others or arranging different times for different groups to visit. Ultimately, though the owner/custodian decides and they may not be able to incorporate all opinions.

In recent years there seems to have been an increase in cases where the area around a war memorial is being used for other purposes. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic some outdoor spaces had additional tables and chairs set-up to enable cafes to keep trading under social distancing rules. Some of these are closer to the war memorial than they might previously have been. This is not necessarily a bad thing if it encourages more people to notice the war memorial and read the names but this should be carefully considered as it is an emotive issue. It is important to recognise people’s expectations and experiences of a site.

War Memorials Trust is only likely to oppose this type of activity if there is a risk of damage to the war memorial e.g. additional littering, scratches caused by tables and chairs, staining of the war memorial from drinks being spilled; access to the war memorial being prevented or commemorative events being disrupted. Other factors such as a site being listed or protected may also impact an assessment. But it cannot be assumed the charity will automatically oppose the usage of space around a war memorial as we recognise the huge diversity of memorial types and how they are used.

Commercial involvement in the use of war memorial spaces can be uncomfortable for some people. But it is worth being aware that in many places markets are held around a war memorial e.g. Salisbury (WMO/120454) as the war memorial was placed in what was, and remains, the marketplace. Indeed, there are a number of war memorials that were built upon the remains of medieval market crosses e.g. Shapwick (WMO/97529). However, the sudden introduction of market stalls or sheds into previously quiet parks or gardens can disrupt an area of contemplation and people may find it disrespectful. War Memorials Trust would suggest those looking at introducing or developing commercial usage of war memorial sites take care to recognise these issues in any proposals. These are emotive locations and ignoring that aspect can cause community upset. If there are alternatives, these are often more appropriate because of the commemorative function of war memorials. But if a decision is made to allow commercial activity such as markets, then there should be careful monitoring of behaviour and littering as well as clear agreements around access and events. Temporary erection and dismantling of structures may be appropriate, particularly to accommodate Remembrance Day services. In addition, if commercial benefit is being gained from using the space in or around a war memorial, recognition that greater use of this area may require more upkeep should be considered. It remains the case that very few war memorials have specific endowment funds for their care and community upset can be further caused if costs to maintain war memorials rise with greater use and this is not offset by those benefitting from the use. 

Why do war memorials have certain symbols and should designs such as swastikas be removed?

War memorials take a huge variety of forms. Designs were, and are, chosen by local communities or committees acting on behalf of those who funded the memorial. Many war memorials have symbolic imagery in the form of sculpture, detail or carving.

Some war memorials carry what might be seen as strange or even offensive symbolism. For example there are a number of war memorials which carry swastikas including that outside Balmoral. The Balmoral memorial, like many, was erected after World War I and included the swastika as a traditional symbol normally associated with good fortune or “well-being”. Clearly the swastika is an example of how the perception of a symbol has changed radically and today some may feel uncomfortable with it on a war memorial.

However, whilst some designs may seem inappropriate today they are part of a memorial’s history. Communities such as that at Balmoral have added World War II names to World War I memorials carrying swastikas which shows that the community felt their pre-existing choices should be respected rather than allowing others to take ownership of a symbol chosen by those who designed the memorial.

War Memorials Trust believes it is important that the original designs and choices of those who erected memorials are respected. Communities should be careful when considering alterations as they are changing history. We are custodians of our memorials for those who erected them and for those who come after – we should avoid current perceptions or opinions influencing alternations. It is worth recognising that unusual symbols or details can be used to engage people with their local war memorial heritage and be understood through research and information sharing especially with young people. 


What should I consider in regard to silhouette figures such as the There But Not There project and Tommy silhouettes?

War Memorials Trust does not categorise these as war memorials as they are mass produced items. Such items are  not eligible for grants under the Trust’s funding criteria.

Making a change to the setting of a war memorial needs to be carefully considered and involve the community. Many people have a strong attachment to their war memorials and the spaces they are in. Communicating and discussing any change, whether temporary or permanent, is important to ensure people can give their opinion.

Any installation should avoid being attached to the fabric of the actual war memorial as this could cause damage. 

Many war memorials are listed, or within the curtilage of a listed building, so anyone proposing an installation should check with the local planning authority if Listed Building Consent, or other permissions are required. Even if the memorial is not listed, then planning permission may be required particularly if the proposal is for a permanent installation. Contact the owner/custodian of a war memorial to ensure they are happy with the proposed installation. Custodians can include councils, churches, schools or workplaces. Read our helpsheet Ownership of war memorials or see if War Memorials Online has custodian details on the Protection tab.

It is also important to consider the security of a war memorial and any installation. War Memorials Trust is aware of a number of There But Not There project and Tommy silhouettes that have been stolen or maliciously damaged this year and recognises how distressing this can be for a community. Introducing a new element around the memorial should not jeopardise the security of the permanent memorial or create a target for anti-social behaviour, theft or vandalism. If your war memorial has metal elements such as plaques, sculptures or lead lettering apply for free SmartWater through In Memoriam 2014 to protect your war memorial and deter theft.


Can we claim back the VAT incurred during the repair and maintenance of our war memorial?

As far as War Memorials Trust is aware work to the existing fabric of a memorial is usually subject to VAT. Any new memorial will be subject to VAT. The Customs and Excise VAT Notice 708: Buildings and Construction (March 1995) is a useful guide and we recommend anyone with a query about VAT discusses this using the helpline below. With regards to our grant schemes, War Memorials Trust will offer a grant based on the assumption that all work is liable to VAT, unless applicants tell us that they are able to reclaim some or all of the VAT (this should be investigated before applying for a grant).

For further information about whether or not you can reclaim VAT, the Trust suggests contacting the HM Revenue and Customs national advice service helpline on 0845 010 9000 or visit www.hmrc.gov.uk.

Additionally, the Memorials Grant Scheme may be of use. The scheme is currently confirmed until 31st March 2015. From 1st June 2014 the provider of the scheme has changed so you should check the contact details on the website before submitting an application.

The Memorials Grant Scheme returns as a grant the VAT incurred by charities or faith groups exempted from the need to register as charities in building, repairing or maintaining public memorial structures. Eligible memorials must be recognised as memorials (rather than, say, statues) by means of an appropriate permanent inscription.  Memorials can be to a person, people, animals or events. Eligible structures cannot have any secondary purpose, e.g. memorial benches are not covered. Gravestones, mausolea or any structure which houses or indicates the whereabouts of remains are considered ineligible. Memorials must be publicly accessible for a minimum of 30 hours per week, even if an entrance fee is payable to gain access (e.g. at an English Heritage site). Details on eligibility can be found at www.memorialgrant.org.uk. As of October 2013, professional fees are also eligible under this scheme.  Any group that is planning a large memorial project is advised to contact the scheme in advance to discuss eligibility.

Please note that of 1st April 2012 there will be major changes to the administration of the scheme. There will be quarterly fixed budgets for the scheme and so payments will be made once a quarter. The payable rate will depend on the value of eligible claims received in that quarter, with each claim attracting a fair pro-rata payment. The maximum grant payable in response to any application will be 20% of project costs. Please see the website for further details www.memorialgrant.org.uk. In regards to the assessment of grants administered by the Trust, in terms of calculating eligible grant costs we will continue to assume that eligible applicants can reclaim their VAT costs under the scheme and therefore exclude VAT from eligible costs.  We are unable to increase grant awards if it is subsequently not possible to reclaim the full VAT.

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Does War Memorials Trust fund work to war graves?  Why does War Memorials Trust not fund work to war graves?

Although War Memorials Trust understands that some headstones in UK Churchyards and cemeteries make reference to military service and involvement in wars or conflicts, we are unfortunately unable to help with the funding of their restoration and conservation when they mark the spot where the body is buried.

The UK National Inventory of War Memorials estimates that there are over 100,000 war memorials in the UK, and this does not include headstones which make reference to wars or conflicts and mark where the body is present.  The Trust has to prioritise those projects which we are able to support with our limited resources.  Our work, therefore, focuses on the conservation and repair of existing war memorials in the UK only.

Please see our 'Definition of a war memorial' helpsheet for further information.

Should Victoria Cross (VC) paving stones be placed on or near existing war memorials?

To commemorate the centenary of the First World War the government will issue over 400 commemorative paving stones to communities of VC holders. Communities will be deciding where to locate these stones and the war memorial may be considered an option.

In general, War Memorials Trust does not recommend that these paving stones are added directly to existing war memorials or within their boundary, for example as a replacement for existing paving. This is because the nature of the inscriptions may not match the existing memorial; also the existing paving may have its own merit as well as forming part of the design of the memorial. In addition, the materials the new paving stone is made from may not be the same as the existing memorial or paving so its introduction may result in a visual change or physical damage to the original paving, or to the memorial itself.

As the nature and style of war memorials vary it may be appropriate in some cases for a paving stone to be added to the area immediately surrounding a memorial but if you are considering this we recommend you contact the Trust for advice. Furthermore, many memorials are listed structures and therefore the local authority should be consulted to check if any consents are required before embarking on a project. Communities may however wish to add the paving stone near or adjacent to a war memorial to retain the link between the two.

When installing a VC paving stone, War Memorials Trust recommends that considerations should be given to not locating it on a main walkway as the inscriptions will wear quickly if they are walked over and some people may consider such use as disrespectful and that there should also be space for people to gather for services and to lay flowers.

War Memorials Trust is unable to fund the installation of VC paving stones.

For further information on these paving stones you should contact the Department for Communities and Local Government who are leading this initiative.

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How long should wreaths stay on war memorials after a Remembrance service?  How can we secure wreaths so they do not blow away?

Please see our 'Wreaths and war memorials' helpsheet for further information.

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Where does War Memorials Trust operate?

War Memorials Trust operates in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man in regards to both its casework and grant schemes. The Trust does not hold information on overseas war memorials and is unable to provide advice or grants for these.

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