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Lenham memorial cross unscathed by field fire that scorched ground during UK heatwave

Lenham Cross
Screenshot: The Independent video

A field fire sparked by the U.K. heatwave burned acres of land in the village of Lenham in Kent county but stopped at a giant cross that stands in the center of the field as a memorial for those killed in World War I.

The field fire charred much of the ground but stopped at the Lenham Cross that was made with chalk cut into the hillside in 1921. Drone footage released by The Independent shows the aftermath of the fire caused by the last month’s heatwave that left the cross untouched. 

The memorial, measuring 61 meters by 21 meters, is listed on the National Heritage List for England and is maintained by Historic England. It was supported by a memorial stone surrounded by iron railings at the base, recording the names of the 42 Lenham villagers who died in World War I, according to Kent Online.

Later, a second stone, with the names of the 14 local men killed in World War II, was added.

In 1960, the dedicatory stones, which were originally at the foot of the cross, were moved to the north entrance of St Mary’s Church in Lenham to enable surviving relatives of the men named on the stones to continue to visit as they were getting too old to climb up the hill.

During World War II the cross was covered over so that it wouldn’t be identified as a marker by enemy aircraft.

In 1983, the cross was renovated with 40 tonnes of chalk.

For decades, the monument didn’t have any official recognition. Finally, in 2017 Historic England registered the cross as a National Monument and War Memorial. “The Cross is always one of the first places we show visitors, so it was a shock to find it was totally unregistered and virtually unknown outside of Lenham,” Parish councilor Mike Cockett was quoted as saying at the time.

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