Bags of help for cemetery’s memorial bench

The restoration of the Seat of Remembrance in Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

The restoration of the Seat of Remembrance in Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

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A neglected memorial seat in honour of a highly decorated Berkhamsted soldier has been given a new lease of life before being unveiled by his great-granddaughter.

Painstaking research revealed that the Seat of Remembrance in the Rectory Lane Cemetery was commissioned by a Mrs Lucy Anne Foot in September 1934, in memory of her husband Brigadier General Richard Mildmay Foot.

Over the years, the seat fell into disrepair and remained abandoned until volunteers from the Rectory Lane Cemetery Project discovered it two years ago.

Mr Foot’s nearby memorial headstone was smashed, tree roots were growing through the pavement and two masonry side-supports in the shape of dogs were also discovered.

Documents reveal the seat was ‘of red Mansfield Stone and teak’. Mr Foot, a highly decorated soldier who fought in both the First World War and the South African Wars, was a keen breeder of Crufts-winning Red Setters, hence the dogs and the stone colour.

Now, thanks to hard work from volunteers and cash from Tesco’s Bags of Help community scheme, the refurbished memorial bench will be unveiled by Mr Foot’s great-granddaughter Professor Sarah Foot this weekend.

James Moir, convenor of the Rectory Lane Cemetery, said: “The grant of £8,000 from Tesco’s ‘Bags of Help’ scheme has enabled the Friends of St Peter’s (FoSP) to restore this fine seat which occupies a key central position sending a clear welcome to visitors and hopefully encouraging them to stay a while.

“We are all delighted that this memorial to a brave and public-spirited man is here for people to enjoy again and look forward to the reveal on our open day.”

Visit the cemetery’s open day from 2pm to 9.30pm on Sunday, September 11.