It is expected that there would have been a cairn or other such erection on Crich Hill prior to anything recorded, as it is a natural vantage point. There is certainly some evidence that the Romans mined the Hill for lead, coins stamped in the reigns of Domitian, Hadrian and Diocletian have been found on the hilltop. During a metal detection rally in 1989 both Roman coins and artefacts were found. Crich is also mentioned in the Doomsday Book ordered by William the Conqueror,
The summit of Crich Hill is reputed to have been the site of a Beacon Fire, which signalled the sighting of the Spanish Armada in the English Channel in 1588. It is believed that after the thrashing the Spanish received from Drake, his ships and the good old English weather, it was again used to celebrate the victory. In 1988 this most famous naval victory was again celebrated on its 400th anniversary with a new Beacon Post and Brazier being built and in 2002 it was again rebuilt as a cairn and brazier to commemorate HM The Queen's Golden Jubilee.
In 1734 there were a number of small lime kilns on the Hill and the public footpath which runs across the Hill to Crich is believed to have been used by Salt Merchants who packed the salt on horses or mules, transporting it southwards from the Cheshire area.
The first record of any tower type structure is during the reign of King George III (1760) when a wooden tower was erected to provide both a landmark and a place from which to take in some of the best views available. It is thought that this tower was erected to mark his accession to the Throne. Owing to its wooden construction in such an exposed area, it only lasted about 25 years before being demolished. In 1788, Francis Hurt paid the princely sum of �210 to have a conical limestone tower with a wooden top constructed on the site of the old tower. By about 1843 the conical tower was in such a poor state of repair that a decision was taken to rebuild and in 1849 some of the stones of this conical tower were used to build the base of the new circular tower that was built from grit stone.
The circular tower was opened in 1851 (the year of the Great Exhibition) and it had a stone stairway winding up inside. An engraved tablet set in the wall at the top showed that the tower was 955 feet above sea level.
It could be said that this tower was the forerunner of The Sherwood Foresters Memorial. In June 1856 it was the scene of a jubilant crowd celebrating the end of the Crimean War (1854-56) and Sergeant Wetton of the 95th Derbyshire Regiment, a resident of Crich, was carried to the top of the Hill in a specially adapted chair as he had lost a leg at the Battle of the Alma (20th September 1854). There is no doubt that he would have been happy that the war was over, but it is certain that he would have remembered his Regimental Family and the comrades who never came home. In 1881 the 95th Derbyshire Regiment joined the 45th Nottinghamshire Regiment to form The Sherwood Foresters.
In June of 1882 there was a major landslide in the area of the quarry and this had a serious subsidence effect on the tower, lightning strikes and further minor movements of the ground in the immediate area resulted in the closing of the tower to the public for reasons of safety.
Things seemed to have remained static until the year 1914. On October the 15th of that year, a relative of the builder of the original tower in 1788, strangely enough bearing the same name - Francis Hurt, sold an area of the hilltop being 1 acre 3 roods and 6 perches to the Clay Cross Company. A condition of the sale stated that the 'Crich Stand' as it was known locally, was to be taken down and rebuilt close by in more or less the same form. The Great War, which began the same year, was to delay the demolition and rebuilding programme. It was not until 1922, some three years after the end of the Great War that work started when the stones were carefully removed and numbered for re-use.
At a general meeting of The Sherwood Foresters Old Comrades Association held on the 8th October 1921 at Chesterfield an executive committee was appointed to consider the question of erecting a War Memorial to the memory of the 11,409 Sherwood Foresters who had died during the Great War 1914 - 1918. The Chairman of this executive committee was Colonel G G Goodman and Major Harvey held the office of Hon Secretary. The original idea for a memorial was a bronze statue of a standing soldier to be sited within Normanton Barracks, Derby. However, it was rightly felt that there would be a considerable objection to this from the people of Nottinghamshire. A suggestion was then made that two memorials be raised, one in Nottinghamshire and one in Derbyshire. The Colonel of the Regiment, General Sir Horace L Smith-Dorrien recommended one larger memorial in a permanent position between the two Counties. This recommendation was approved at a general meeting on 22nd February 1922.
It was at this time that a Mr Thomas Linthwaite Tudor suggested that, perhaps the site of 'Crich Stand' would make an ideal memorial for the Sherwood Foresters. This suggestion was not such a surprise, for there were thousands of Memorials being erected throughout the length and breadth of the country, indeed it was said that there was a Memorial to be found in every town, village and hamlet bearing the names of those who had fallen.
The committee visited Crich Hill and unanimously agreed that it was �an exceedingly fine site for a memorial�.
Brigadier General G M Jackson, the Chairman of the Clay Cross Company Ltd. was present at the time of the visit by the committee and he kindly informed them that if the site were selected then the Company would donate the whole of the stonework of the old tower, plus a subscription (�200) and in addition, they would undertake to cart all materials to the site as required by the builder.
Major F C A Hurt of Alderwasley granted the site to the War Memorial Committee on the most generous terms. The Architect who designed the Memorial Tower was Lieutenant Colonel Brewill, unfortunately he died before the Tower was completed in 1923, but his son Captain L C Brewill carried out the supervision of the building to its completion. The builder was Joseph Payne of Crich and advertisements placed in local newspapers of the time show that he was clearly proud of the fact. It must have been quite a task, for the dome, which sits on the top of the Tower weighs some forty tons. One has to marvel at the men who raised it to the height of 64 feet. The Memorial was erected at a cost of approximately �2382 with the money being raised through public subscription.
The memorial tower was officially opened a 4.00 pm on Monday 6th August 1923. The ceremony being carried out by the Colonel of the Regiment General Sir Horace L Smith-Dorrien, His Grace the Duke of Portland, His Grace the Duke of Devonshire, Admiral Salmon and the Bishop of Southwell. The description of the opening ceremony as printed in the Regimental Annual of 1923 was as follows:
�The promoters of the scheme could not possibly have chosen a better day than August Bank Holiday on which to hold the opening ceremony. The holiday gave everyone the chance to attend and the number who availed them-selves of this opportunity was remarkably large. From well before lunch time a continuous stream of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians passed through the streets of Crich towards the tower and with commendable acumen, the local tradesmen and others laid themselves out to cater for the hungry and perspiring visitors. Special trains and char-a-bancs were run from all parts and there was a motorbus service between Crich and Ambergate station.
By 3.30 pm the crowd surrounding the foot of the tower had assumed gigantic proportions and still the pilgrims to this elevated shrine came up in a steady stream. The weather was so good that it could not have been improved, a cool breeze swept over the top of the cliff from the infinite space above the valley of the Derwent and the only drawback was that a low visibility considerably interfered with the enjoyment of the extensive view. Many of the male members of the crowd wore war medals and not a few had the appearance of men still suffering from the effects of the European holocaust. These were the most pathetic of all the visitors, poor, broken men who had braved the difficulties of the long and steep climb and possibly suffered much pain in the process that they might be present at the honouring of their lost comrades.
General Sir Horace L Smith-Dorrien GCB GCMG DSO Colonel of the Regiment performed the ceremony of opening the door. The service commenced at 4 o'clock with the singing of the hymn 'O Valiant Hearts, Who To Your Glory Came' (John S Arkwright), the singing being led by the band of the 1st Battalion. The lesson, which followed, was 'Revelation Chapter XXI, verses 1 to 7 inclusive' and was read by the Rev A Stanley Bishop Hon Chaplain to the Forces. A golden key was then handed to General Smith-Dorrien by Captain L Brewill who was associated with his late father in the designing of the tower, and the door was opened. The Right Reverend The Lord Bishop of Southwell DD pronounced the dedicatory sentences. Amid a great silence the buglers of the 1st Battalion The Sherwood Foresters sounded the �Last Post� and then almost everyone in that great and reverent assembly joined in the singing of �O God Our Help In Ages Past�. This was, perhaps, the most impressive moment of all. When the Blessing had been uttered, the �Reveille� rang out, carrying as it always does, a note of cheer and hope for the future.�
There is another part to the Memorial, which is not generally known. This was the provision of two books in which are inscribed the names of all the men of the Regiment who were killed in the Great War 0f 1914 - 1918. One book is deposited at The Sherwood Foresters Museum Gallery in Nottingham Castle and the other is deposited in the Derby City Museum and Art Gallery. They are commonly known as the Roll of Honour, or Books of Remembrance.
About ten years after the opening of the Memorial, the plinth at the base of the tower was surrounded by metal railings and gates. When, during the Second World War such railings were cut away to produce metal for tanks etc. the Memorial was spared and they remain as they were originally fitted.
Seven years after the end of the Second World War in 1952, a dedication to the memory of 1,520 Sherwood Foresters who had died during this war was added to the Memorial.
On the 7th July 1991, two bronze plaques, positioned one either side of the doorway of the Memorial Tower were dedicated:
Plaque A reads: This Memorial Tower is dedicated to the memory of those of The Sherwood Foresters who gave their lives in the Service of their Country from 1945 to 1970.
Plaque B reads: This Memorial Tower is also dedicated to the memory of those of The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment who gave their lives in the Service of their Country since the formation of the Regiment in 1970.
THE BEACON LIGHT
The following appeared in the columns of the Derbyshire Advertiser on 11th August 1934:
�New Beacon in Crich War Memorial
Range of 38 Miles
Official Lighting First Time Tomorrow
The Regimental Memorial Committee of The Sherwood Foresters have installed a 750,000 candle power beacon in the Notts and Derby War Memorial, which stands a thousand feet above sea level at Crich.
The beacon is a 28-inch searchlight with a luminous range of 38 miles and it will revolve when illuminated, (eight times per minute) so that it will be visible in several counties. It has been constructed by Messrs Chance Bros. & Co Ltd., Marine and Lighthouse Engineers.
It will be officially illuminated tomorrow evening for the first time, in honour of the late General Smith-Dorrien, Colonel of the Regiment. Afterwards it will be lit to mark battle honours and anniversaries etc. Captain Raleigh Hills of Wood End, Cromford, who has been in charge of the arrangements stated yesterday that people could not identify the old and smaller beacon, but everyone will know what the new light represents.�
Later on the light was to shine out every night. This lamp has been changed for a smaller one in later years.
THE SMITH-DORRIEN MEMORIAL
In August 1930 General Smith-Dorrien was tragically killed in a motoring accident. At the eighth Annual Pilgrimage in 1931, the Smith-Dorrien Memorial was unveiled. This Memorial is a little lower down the hill within the Memorial boundary wall; it takes the form of a curved wall with a small plot of remembrance directly in front of it. The following is to be found on the wall:
�GENTLEMEN WE WILL STAND AND FIGHT� To the ever glorious memory of that great soldier and gentleman General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien GCB CGMG DSO Col. The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) 1905-1930. Erected as a token of love and esteem by his comrades of the Regiment in which he served for so many years. Whosoever leads such a life need not care upon how short warning it be taken from him.
To the left of the pathway leading to the Tower, set in the grass bank is to be found a rough fossilised limestone boulder. This was brought up from Cliff Quarry and the stone bears the inscription:
�IN MEMORY OF BRIGADIER J.H.M. HACKETT DSO OBE 27TH MARCH 1912 - 19TH FEBRUARY 1985. Last Colonel The Sherwood Foresters 1965 - 1970 and First Colonel The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment 1970 - 1972.�
To the right of the pathway leading to the Tower, just past the entrance gates is another rough fossilised limestone boulder, brought up from Cliff Quarry and is a recent addition (1 July 2001). The stone bears the inscription:
�In Memory of Colonel S L A Carter OBE MC
13 January 1912 - 4 August 1999
President The Sherwood Foresters Association 1977 - 1985�
A number of seats or benches are sited around the Memorial Grounds, which have been placed as Memorials to respected FORESTERS by members of the Association Branches to which they belonged.
Each year on the first Sunday in July a Pilgrimage and Service is held at the Memorial site. Members of the Regiment, both old and new, gather here on Crich Day to pay their respects and meet up with comrades. On the Saturday evening preceding the Pilgrimage an Association Dinner is held, of which full details are available from RHQ Mercian in Nottingham
The information on this site has been extracted from the pamphlet � A Short history of the Regimental Memorial of The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) Crich Derbyshire by Cliff Housley and updated by Andrew McDougall RHQ WFR Staff 2002.