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Written In Stone

Imagine for a moment that you are walking past a war memorial in a town a few days after the commemoration ceremonies have taken place in November. There is one solitary wreath of poppies standing upright which draws your attention. Then you see that there are two bottles of beer inside the wreath. You are disgusted at such an act of disrespect and you are determined to remove the offending bottles. However when you look more closely you see a card has been placed under the bottles. It reads….’.this one’s for you mate. I miss you and our Saturday nights. We had some good times. God Bless and Rest in Peace.’
You realise that far from being an act of disrespect it is a tribute to a friend who has died in a recent conflict. It is his ‘act’ of remembering.
Is there a ’right’ way to remember? Does it matter as long as it comes from the heart?


As the centenary of the First World War approached, millions of pounds were pledged to encourage communities throughout the country to explore their First World War heritage. By remembering and sharing their experiences it was hoped it would deepen their understanding of the impact of conflict. The most visible form of this shared heritage and legacy is the war memorial.


There are war memorials in most cities, towns and villages and they form a part of our everyday landscape. This is particularly so at specific commemoration dates when the nation pays its respects to those who have fallen in conflict and yet sometimes we also see people sitting on them, eating their lunch or waiting to meet a friend or at worst they are vandalised or urinated on by those the worse for wear because of alcohol. When these incidents happen it naturally causes outrage and deep offence. As well as the traditional war memorial, we may also see a row of cottages, a hall, a stained glass window in a church or a lych gate. These are all ways of remembering the men and women who gave their lives in war but all with different forms. From discussions with young people, a series of questions arose. What were the thoughts and feelings of those at home in the aftermath of the war about how to remember the fallen? How did the idea of the war memorial as we know it arise? How were those decisions made and by whom? Who paid for them? Who decided where they would be erected and what form the memorial would take? How was the content of a commemoration ceremony chosen, the words, the music? Whose names were included and whose were not? How do young people feel about war memorials and commemoration ceremonies today?


“this one’s for you mate. I miss you and our Saturday nights. We had some good times. God Bless and Rest in Peace.”
The Pomegranate Youth Theatre received £25,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project to try to explore some of these questions.


‘Written in Stone’ was created and is being led by Project Managers Sheila Young of Dexter Productions and Carole Copeland from The Pomegranate Youth Theatre and set out to enable a group of young people to research and explore the heritage and history of their local war memorials and commemoration ceremonies and their relevance to young people today. To discover whose voices were heard and whose were less well represented on war memorial committees. With the help of Chesterfield Museum, Chesterfield Library and Denise Coss, they explored the viewpoints and feelings of The Church, The Establishment, the War Widows, the Mothers and the Veterans. The voices of the soldiers themselves are represented through their letters to home about how they would like to be remembered. The project captured the thoughts of young people and enabled them to work with professional writer Sheila Young, to write and devise a stimulus piece of theatre, culminating in a performance rehearsed and directed by Carole Copeland. This piece was then performed to the Canotila (Calow), Draco (Chesterfield) and Centaurus (Tupton) Explorer Scout groups. Their responses to the piece were collected to form the basis for workshops that will take place in the Autumn. These will be led by professional musicians, Richard Stone and Rob Laughlin and will enable the young people to learn about different forms of commemorative music and then devise and create their own new anthem to be performed at the Chesterfield Museum on November 14th and at future commemorative events. A website has been constructed by Dave Jolliff to collect and record the thoughts and feelings of those taking part and to create a platform for debate and discussion for the wider community. In order to have a lasting record of the project a documentary film has been commissioned and created by Defeye Films.

The event at the Museum on November 14th is open to the public where we hope to share our the new anthem and other aspects of the project. The event is free of charge and all are welcome.


14 November 2015
Performance of the Chesterfield Written in Stone Anthem.
Chesterfield Museum.