Something that guidebooks to Eastleigh tell you is that the design of the town’s war memorial is “very unusual”.
What provides this distinction is the figure of the Angel of Mons on the top.
However, as far as I know, none of the guidebooks explain why Eastleigh does have an angel when nearly every other place doesn’t. Maybe nobody knows. However, here is one possibility.
After the end of the Great War (as it was then known) the government issued guidance notes on war memorials. One of the pieces of advice was that memorials should not include overtly religious symbols such as, er, angels.
This might explain the lack of angels on war memorials in general, but why did Eastleigh choose to ignore this advice?
The war memorial we now have was not the original. The first memorial was a gun barrel (I’m not sure whether this was a historic cannon or something more contemporary) placed outside the (then) town hall. After a while it was felt that this was not suitable but it was several years before the present memorial was erected.
So could it be that this delay meant that the guidance notes had been forgotten? Ten years on the people in charge of the design might not have even known they existed.
That’s my theory anyway. Leave a note if you have a better reason and/or can add some facts to support it.
The Stoneham Shrine and the Great War
A second memorial can be found in what was North Stoneham Park. The North Stoneham Shrine was built by John Willis Fleming, in memory of his son (Richard) and 36 other men of North Stoneham who died in the First World War. 37 deaths – that’s a lot of people from somewhere as small as North Stoneham but several of these could have been servants at North Stoneham House and Park.
The shrine fell into disrepair (well, it pretty much fell down) but has recently been restored (see the link for details of the restoration). While it was in a ruined state the two plaques containing the roll of names were erected in the porch of nearby North Stoneham church. But here’s an oddity. Although the names are listed alphabetically, the panels were placed the wrong way round. The left-hand panel showed the second half of the alphabet, and the right-hand panel showed the first half.