The Lych Gate Memorial

Wellington’s official Town War Memorial was unveiled in 1922, over three and a half years after the Armistice. As that long gap might suggest, the journey to remembering the townsfolk that fell in the conflict was less than straightforward and the now familiar Lych Gate outside All Saints parish church was not the commemoration initially intended for them.


The Lych Gate that frames the southwestern entrance to All Saints churchyard owes its existence to Reverend J Sinclair-Moore, the vicar of the parish church at the time of the conflict. It was his vision that enabled the vacuum to be filled when the town’s official scheme collapsed in July 1920 after failing to secure the funds to provide a life size statue of a serviceman further up Church Street, on the Green. The alternative idea of providing a ‘visible monument as close to the centre of town as possible’ had first appeared in the letters page of the Wellington Journal over a year earlier, in March 1919, when correspondent George Wilkinson suggested Rev. Sinclair-Moore ‘is of the same mind’ on the issue. Indeed, throughout the existence of the ill-fated war memorial committee, the local vicar continued to press the case for a simpler memorial in the grounds of the churchyard, and foresaw little problem in acquiring the land needed. When the committee was dissolved he seized his chance, calling a public meeting on Friday August 20th 1920 to consider his proposal for: 

The Lych Gate Memorial

‘A lych gateway to be erected on the public footway at the top of the steps leading to the parish church as a memorial to local war heroes and in grateful recognition of the return of others’.

Elegantly Artistic

The gathering was held at the Wrekin Buildings in Walker Street, where those assembled heard well-developed plans for an ‘elegantly artistic’ structure constructed from ‘choice materials’ that it was hoped would include a ‘sufficiency of old oak for the fronts’. Crucially, the estimated cost — at £400 (around £17, 500 today) — was over two thirds less than its predecessor. When Reverend Sinclair-Moore announced that the finished monument would be presented to Wellington Urban District Council, together with a ‘sufficient amount to be invested for its upkeep’, the prospects for success appeared assured. A representative committee, which included two members from the Comrades of the Great War, was quickly assembled and Reverend Sinclair-Moore was duly elected chair. By the end of September, £170 had been raised (including £20 from the Reverend himself, and a further £25 from the Wrekin Brewery) and arrangements were being made ‘for a committee of ladies to make further collections in town’.

The official programme for the Lych Gate unveiling ceremony in 1922

That the task was completed successfully was evidenced in December when a request from the working group appeared in the Wellington Journal asking for all the names of the fallen. Special provision was made within the scheme for the inscription of their names on the memorial and 184 were eventually included (although the actual toll was almost certainly higher); they were listed in alphabetical order and not by rank — an acknowledgment that all were equal in death. In February 1921, the local paper reported that final arrangements for the erection of the memorial were being made but its official unveiling, before local MP Charles Townsend, did not take place until Saturday 6th May 1922. As a prelude to the event, a well drilled military parade, featuring a mix of old military veterans, ex-servicemen and members of the clergy, marched from the Market Hall enclosure to the parish church and were accompanied by the Comrades of the Great War band, who played Fallen Heroes.  Wreaths were then placed under the tablet where the names of the fallen are still inscribed today.