A Great War memorial bench has been placed in the former home of a soldier’s family after being saved from the dump 30 years ago.

The bench, dedicated to the memory of Ewell’s war dead, was paid for by the parents of Lieutenant Hugh Hopkinson who was killed in Turkey during the war.

A few weeks ago the memorial was finally handed over to Bourne Hall Museum, formerly Garbrand Hall, where his family lived between 1919 and 1925.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Photo: The Epsom and Ewell History Explorer 

Barbara Meineck, who used to work at Ewell Castle School in the village, saved the bench when it was being taken to the dump more than 30 years ago.

Last month Mrs Meineck wrote: "One day, crossing the courtyard on my way back to class, I saw a large wooden seat being loaded into a van.

"I noticed it because it was in a bad state of repair and had been vandalised with a saw or knife."

Despite being told the bench was beyond repair, Mrs Meineck believed her late husband Frank was up to the task of repairing it and had it delivered to her home.

She added: "It has been a wonderful seat - the family and many friends have sat on it and talked about its history and how we saved it.

"Now on this centenary remembrance of the beginning of the Great War I feel I must return it to its rightful place in Ewell - much as it holds special memories of my late husband.

"I have loved having it in my garden all these years."

Wandsworth Guardian:

The bench in Barbara Meineck's garden in Ewell. Photo: Hazal Ballan

Museum curator Jeremy Harte said: "I’m absolutely delighted that the bench has come back to Bourne Hall."

Hazel Ballan, a volunteer at Epsom and Ewell Local and Family History Centre, fell into conversation with Mrs Meineck in a church car park earlier this year.

Mrs Ballan said she was very excited to hear that a previously "unknown" memorial for Ewell was out there and being looked after.

When asked how she felt about its return to Bourne Hall, Mrs Ballan said: "Grateful that Barbara felt that it should be returned to the people of Ewell, especially as it's the centenary of the start of the Great War.

"I have since researched Hugh's short life and his family's few years as the owners of Garbrand Hall."

Wandsworth Guardian:

Photo: Hazal Ballan

Lt Hopkinson, of the 67th Field Company, Royal Engineers, died of his wounds in November 1915 at the age of 23. But his younger brother Cecil survived the war.

Mrs Ballan, who is also a freelance genealogist, has managed to track down Cecil's son David and has invited to him to visit the bench at Bourne Hall.

She said: "I have had a postcard reply from him saying that it is all news to him and that he will be in touch on his return from holiday."

For help in tracing your family tree, contact Mrs Ballan at genealogymidwife@hotmail.co.uk

To dedicate a tree to someone who died in the First World at one of the Woodland Trust’s new Centenary Woods four new sites visit: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/mylocalpaper or call 0800 915 1914.