Surprisingly common in UK cities bombed during the Second World War—perhaps less so in other countries--are the ruins of bombed churches, empty sites, or markers indicating a church's former presence in the city. There are also numerous restored or rebuilt churches with signs narrating the church's history of damage. This paper explores the nature and extent of such commemorations of destruction, particularly at a time when churchgoing was in sharp decline. Churches are, in many ways, 'special buildings' in the physical and mental urban landscape: landmarks for all if not as places of worship. The investment of past societies in such special buildings, their scale, position, intricate detailing, as well as their cultural connections, all suggest why churches might become prominent and memorable memorials. But, three-quarters of a century after the Second World War, there is very limited evidence that the bombed churches remain effective or widely used as memorials. This paper uses examples from across England to explore why and how some bombed churches became war memorials, and their transition over time from memorial to mere memento.


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pp. 48-71
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