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SUTTON MANDEVILLE WW1 BADGE RESTORATION BEGINS
THE first piece of turf cutting, signalling the beginning of a full restoration programme of the World War I hillside badge of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, took place recently above Cranborne Chase AONB village Sutton Mandeville.
Members of the Sutton Mandeville Heritage Trust, including chair Sir Jack Deverell, were in attendance as the symbolic turf cutting by Chris Thompson (pictured) was performed before Hampshire-based Earlcoate Construction moves in to begin the specialist restoration work.
“We estimate that the restoration will take five weeks,” said Antony Firth, a marine archaeologist and member of the Heritage Trust. “On completion the badge will look the same as it did in the last century, but the method will be slightly different. The company will peg a geotextile honeycomb structure into the hillside to hold the surface chalk in place.”
The project is being undertaken thanks to a £88,300 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Cranborne Chase AONB gave a grant for the Trust to carry out a drone survey of the site which proved essential for an accurate restoration as the badge was invisible from all vantage points except from the air.
Prior to Earlcoate Construction commencing its work, local volunteers cleared well-established foliage from the badge site and access routes. Then the outline of the badge, which boasts an antelope as its central figure, was pegged.
“We have a great community spirit here and several local people have been turning up regularly to help,” said Antony. “Ultimately we are all keen to see the badge restored to its former glory and visible again on the hillside for all to see.”
Linda Nunn, director of the Cranborne Chase AONB, said: “We are delighted with the momentum of this project and pleased to have been able to advance it with funding for the drone survey. The badge will not only be a memorial to the soldiers who constructed it in 1916, but a wonderful addition to the nearby Fovant Badges and as such a great attraction within our AONB.”
As well as restoring the Royal Warwickshire Regiment badge, the HLF grant will be used to support a programme of open days, guided walks and family history workshops, a website and the publication of a booklet.
“We’re hoping to have an open day in September and an official opening next spring,” said Antony. “At the same time we’ve been looking into the history of the soldiers who were based in the camps here during World War I and we will be inviting any relatives we can trace.”
Anyone with photos, documents or stories relating to the badges, camps or soldiers at Sutton Mandeville can email email@example.com