The copper gilded finial being installed on top of the entrance Chattri

Restoration of burial ground for First World War Muslim soldiers

Posted on on 12 June 2014
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A burial ground for Muslim First World War soldiers in Woking, England, has been restored ahead of the Centenary.

A grant from English Heritage, supported by funds from Woking Borough Council, has permitted the restoration of the exterior wall brickwork, Portland stone capping, and the entrance Chattri. A copper gilded finial with 12 petals was also placed on top of the entrance Chattri at the Grade II listed site.

Built in 1917, the burial ground holds the remains of Muslim soldiers who fought for Britain during the First and Second World Wars.

                                                  The finial being installed

The UK's Secretary of State for Culture, Sajid Javid, said he was "delighted" that funding and advice from English Heritage has "helped to rescue this extremely important monument in time for First World War Centenary commemorations".

"Over one million troops from pre-partition India fought as members of the British Armed Forces in the First World War, many of them Muslim. Now standing as a symbol of those lost, and an early and important part of British Muslim history, the restoration of the Muslim Burial Ground to its former glory is particularly poignant in the year we remember the outbreak of the First World War".

Woking Borough Council has announced that it plans to create a peace garden within the walled burial ground, as a result of funding support from stakeholders.

Funding was secured from the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme; Department for Communities and Local Government; Shah Jahan Mosque; Government of the Sultanate of Oman and Surrey County Council’s Community Improvements Fund.

Members of the organisations who helped fund and support the restoration of the burial ground

Councilor John Kingsbury, Leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “We are delighted to have obtained this important funding to enable us to complete the final phase of this project. The Muslim Burial Ground is an important heritage site, both locally and nationally. With the golden finial now in place, works will progress to create a peace garden that will offer a place of quiet contemplation, remembrance and for acts of commemoration, while enhancing pride of place".

An "Islamic-style peace garden" will be developed with 27 Himalayan Birch trees planted in a symbolic gesture towards the original number of servicemen who were buried there. A water feature will also be installed, with a memorial stone bearing the names of those once buried at the site. Pink and white heather will also be planted in strips, pointing towards Islam's holiest site - Mecca. Two stone ceremonial prayer mats and benches will be placed in the garden "for quiet contemplation".

Source: UK Government press release

Date of press release publication: 11/06/2014

Images courtesy of English Heritage

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News