Uproar as vandals damage base of bench in Horncastle

The damage to the concrete surrounding the memorial bench opposite Stanhope Hall, in Horncastle. Picture: John Aron. EMN-190221-110211001
The damage to the concrete surrounding the memorial bench opposite Stanhope Hall, in Horncastle. Picture: John Aron. EMN-190221-110211001

Vandalism of the concrete base surrounding a war memorial bench rocked the Horncastle community last week - with many condemning the actions of those responsible.

The memorial bench was installed outside Stanhope Hall, off Boston Road, on Monday, February 18.

The concrete surrounding the memorial bench has now been relaid. Picture: John Aron.

The concrete surrounding the memorial bench has now been relaid. Picture: John Aron.

The following day, the concrete surrounding the bench was vandalised by people writing names and messages in it.

Speaking last Wednesday, a spokesperson from Horncastle Town Council said: “We had a new memorial bench installed opposite the Stanhope Hall.

“The bench had tape around it whilst the concrete was curing.

“The tape has now been removed from the bench and was only there whilst the concrete was wet.

“The bench is fine, but the writing in the concrete is obviously not supposed to be there.

“It is disappointing that this happened.”

The concrete has since been relaid - but the impact of the vandalism, which Lincolnshire Police are treating as criminal damage, will not be forgotten for some time.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Mayor of Horncastle Councillor Brian Burbidge, said: “I am deeply saddened that, after much work by a great number of people to commemorate the end of the First World War and to provide the commemorative bench as a lasting memorial, its installation has been mistreated in such a way.

“I can only hope those responsible will learn to appreciate that the bench was placed there to commemorate the sacrifices made by so many during the First World War.”

The bench was installed after town councillors voted to erect a memorial as a permanent reminder of ‘100 Years of Remembrance’

Town and district councillor Fiona Martin was chairman of the working group that organised the commemorative weekend in Horncastle last November.

After hearing of the vandalism, Coun Martin said: “I am very saddened and angry that someone has seen fit to vandalise the setting of this commemorative bench by writing in the wet concrete.

“I feel this is disrespectful to the people from Horncastle who lost their lives that this bench remembers.

“The bench was brought as a permanent memorial with funds raised from local businesses, voluntary groups and the town council following the successful commemoration weekend last November.

“This design was chosen particularly as it incorporated war horses and seemed appropriate because of Horncastle historic horse fair.”

Lincolnshire Police launched an investigation last week and are treating the incident as criminal damage.

Speaking on Friday, Horncastle’s Inspector, Sarah Constantine, said: “We are actively investigating the matter as criminal damage and pursuing lines of enquiry in the investigation, including those on social media.”

A Lincolnshire Police spokesman has since confirmed that officers are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

In a statement issued on Monday, a spokesman said: “A woman has been interviewed in relation to this and investigations are ongoing.”

After the initial vandalism was reported, residents reacted in horror.

Lyn Hodgson said: “How could anyone want to damage something so beautiful - sickening fools.”

Gary Smith said: “Find the person who did this and make them repair the damage.

Michelle Morris added: “They (those responsible) should be made to do community service and get out and clean up the litter in the town.

“They should be named and shamed as well - disgusting individuals.”