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SUTTON MANDEVILLE BADGE RESTORED TO ITS FORMER GLORY
MOTORISTS driving along the A30 between Salisbury and Shaftesbury will see an arresting sight when they reach the parish of Sutton Mandeville – the fully restored World War I badge of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment gleaming white against the green hillside. The badge is also visible from the various footpaths and byways in Sutton Mandeville that go up to the Downs.
The restoration of the badge by Sutton Mandeville Heritage Trust was completed on 7 August. Initially in a poor state and completely overgrown, it has been returned to its original, striking condition, first by volunteers and then by a specialist contractor, Godshill-based Earlcoate Construction.
Excavations commenced on 27 June, following survey and research work which went into identifying the original shape of the badge. This included a drone survey of the site financed by a Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) grant from the Cranborne Chase AONB, within which the badge is sited. The badge was marked out on the hillside in June 2017 by Wessex Archaeology using precision GPS.
The renovation work, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, involved excavating within the outline of the badge, installing a honeycomb geotextile which was pinned into the ground, and then filling in the honeycomb with chalk. Some of the excavations were carried out using a specialist excavator which can work on steep slopes. Some were done by hand.
“We are really pleased with how the badge looks. It’s as close as possible to the shape of the badge first cut by soldiers in the First World War,” said Antony Firth, a member of the Heritage Trust. “Our group of volunteers will soon be in action again, managing the vegetation so that good turf develops around the badge.
“We hope to restore the other First World War badge in Sutton Mandeville – the ‘Shiny 7th’ badge of the 7th (City of London) Battalion of the London regiment – next year,” continued Antony.
The Royal Warwickshire Regiment badge is thought to have been constructed in the spring of 1916 by men of the Royal Warwickshire regiment who were training at the military camps in Sutton Mandeville.
Various activities related to the badge restoration are being planned for the winter, including guided walks and WWI history workshops. These will be advertised shortly.
For further information, or to become a member of Sutton Mandeville Heritage Trust, see www.sutton-down-badges.com; Twitter @suttonbadges.