Is Fenland District Council about to knock down one of Doddington’s most iconic memorials?

15:31 21 March 2014

Bavin memorial

Bavin memorial

Archant

A new safety programme by Fenland District Council could see the imminent dismantling of one of the most iconic memorials in Doddington churchyard.

Wigginton memorial before it was dismantledWigginton memorial before it was dismantled

The ‘chapel’ memorial, believed to be of Francis Bavin of Hill House in Wimblington, who died in 1869, is marked to be “laid down” unless any “interested parties of the deceased” contact the council.

Doddington historian Dave Edwards said the memorial holds a particularly special place in the churchyard.

“Generations of Doddington children have been told if they run around this memorial so many times they will see a ghost,” he said.

Edwards said he believes Fenland District Council has been marking memorials across Doddington graveyard since around November last year, and extra memorials are being marked every couple of weeks.

Wigginton memorial after it was dismantled by Fenland District CouncilWigginton memorial after it was dismantled by Fenland District Council

He added that he is unsure how long it is between a memorial being marked and then it being dismantled.

“Most of the headstones they have laid flat are from the 1920s and 1930s, but in recent weeks they have started on some Victorian memorials,” Edwards said.

Of particular concern is the way the memorial of the Wigginton family, who lived at Manor Farm in the 1850s and 1860s, was demolished recently.

The Bavin memorial was marked within the last fortnight, and it is currently unknown whether it will be “laid down” to the extent that the Wigginton memorial was.

Guthrie Bedford memorialGuthrie Bedford memorial

Edwards added: “I would hope that some money could be found to make the Bavin memorial safe without dismantling it.”

Another memorial scheduled to be “laid down” in the near future is this one of Surgeon-Major William James Guthrie Bedford, who died in 1902.

Talking about William James Gutherie Bedford, Edwards said: “In the 1870s, Britain decided that Australia was now in a position to defend itself and withdrew the British Army garrison.

“An Australian army was formed, initially consisting of a battery of artillery and a company of soldiers to defend it.

“They of course, needed a medical officer and William James Gutherie Bedford became the first officer of what would become the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps.

“He held that position for several years and returned to England on his retirement, until his wife died.

“He remarried and they moved to Doddington – Coney House down Benwick Road – where he died a few years later.”

Bob Ollier, manager of Fenland District Council’s Parks & Open Spaces department, said the safety programme is to ensure unstable memorials don’t fall and potentially injure or kill people.

“We welcome the public raising money to help fund the restoration of memorials, or alternatively contacting stonemasons or memorial restoration businesses — for example, we have used Kent Memorials in March for restorations in the area,” he said.

If you want to contact Fenland District Council about the memorials scheduled to be laid down, you can phone 01354 654321, email streetscene@fenland.gov.uk or write a message on Facebook.

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