Unique war cemetery in Taplow restored by War Graves Commission

Shay Bottomley

shayb@baylismedia.co.uk

A unique war cemetery at a Taplow country house has been restored by expert stonemasons from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

Cliveden War Cemetery sits within the grounds of Cliveden House. It is located in a sunken Italian-style garden, unlike any other CWGC site.

The estate served as a Canadian war hospital during the First World War, when the garden was converted into a cemetery, and it now contains 44 war graves of soldiers and nursing staff.

It contains 42 burials dating from the First World War, of which 28, including two nursing sisters, are Canadian. Of the 21 Americans who were buried at Cliveden during the war, all but two were repatriated after the Armistice.

The remainder of the burials are those of British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers and airmen who died while undergoing treatment in the hospital.

Over time, some of the recumbent, or flat-laying, headstones had become water damaged and needed restoring.

Two of the headstones were damaged beyond repair and replaced with specially sourced Crossland Hill sandstone.

To restore them, the headstones were cut to shape and engraved by the commission’s headstone production unit in Beaurains, France.

They were then given lead lettering and finishing touches to match the site’s characteristics by expert stonemasons in Surrey.

A further six headstones were carefully repaired to allow amendments to their inscriptions.

Rather than replace historic stonework, the commission’s masons carved out the damaged or incorrect sections, adding a new stone insert, and re-engraving the lettering by hand.

This approach reduced the use of finite natural resources and helps to preserve the character of the historic sites the commission is entrusted with.

The CWGC worked closely with the National Trust throughout the project.

James King, UK area director of the CWGC, said: “There is a huge variety of war grave sites for people to explore in the UK, from large military cemeteries and memorials to scattered headstones in your local churchyard.

“War graves can often be found in some remarkable settings and Cliveden War Cemetery is a truly unique example, and one we’re proud to help care for.

“Working closely with the National Trust, we’ve carefully restored the war graves at Cliveden using the skills of our craftsmen to respect the history of this cemetery and most importantly the people whose stories these headstones preserve.”

A unique war cemetery at a Taplow country house has been restored by expert stonemasons from the
Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

Cliveden War Cemetery sits within the grounds of Cliveden House. It is located in a sunken Italian-style garden, unlike any other CWGC site.

The estate served as a
Canadian war hospital during the First World War, when the garden was converted into a cemetery, and it now contains 44 war graves of soldiers and nursing staff.

It contains 42 burials dating from the First World War, of which 28, including two nursing sisters, are Canadian. Of the 21 Americans who were buried at Cliveden during the war, all but two were repatriated after the Armistice.

The remainder of the burials are those of British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers and airmen who died while undergoing treatment in the hospital.

Over time, some of the
recumbent, or flat-laying, headstones had become water damaged and needed restoring.

Two of the headstones were damaged beyond repair and replaced with specially sourced Crossland Hill sandstone.

To restore them, the headstones were cut to shape and engraved by the commission’s headstone production unit in Beaurains, France.

They were then given lead lettering and finishing touches to match the site’s characteristics by expert stonemasons in Surrey.

A further six headstones were carefully repaired to allow amendments to their inscriptions.

Rather than replace historic stonework, the commission’s masons carved out the damaged or incorrect sections, adding a new stone insert, and re-engraving the lettering by hand.

This approach reduced the use of finite natural
resources and helps to preserve the character of the historic sites the commission is entrusted with.

The CWGC worked closely with the National Trust throughout the project.

James King, UK area director of the CWGC, said: “There is a huge variety of war grave sites for people to explore in the UK, from large military cemeteries and memorials to scattered headstones in your local churchyard.

“War graves can often be found in some remarkable settings and Cliveden War Cemetery is a truly unique example, and one we’re proud to help care for.

“Working closely with the National Trust, we’ve carefully restored the war graves at Cliveden using the skills of our craftsmen to respect the history of this cemetery and most importantly the people whose stories these headstones preserve.”

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