Gilded finial shines brightly as funding is secured

11 June 2014

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The first phase of renovation works to Woking's Muslim Burial Ground in Maybury was successfully completed yesterday (Tuesday 10 June 2014), as a gilded finial adorning the top of the entrance Chettri and ornate gates were installed.

A grant from English Heritage, together with funding from Woking Borough Council has beautifully restored the exterior wall brickwork, Portland stone capping and the entrance Chettri, adorned with a gilded finial in the form of a lotus flower, to its former splendour.

The unique Grade II listed building, located on the south east corner of Horsell Common, was designed by architect T.H. Winney and built in 1917 by local firm, Ashby & Horner Ltd, for the burial of Muslim soldiers who fell during the First and Second World Wars. Its distinctive arches, minarets and the domed gateway reflect the architectural style of the nearby Shah Jahan Mosque, the first purpose-built mosque in the UK.

Secretary of State for Culture, Sajid Javid, said: "I'm delighted that funding and advice from English Heritage have 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."

Funding for the first phase of works was provided by English Heritage and Woking Borough Council.

Second phase funding secured

Woking Borough Council is pleased to announce that works to create a peace garden within the walled Burial Ground can now begin, thanks to funding from key stakeholders.

Funding has been obtained 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.

Cllr 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 gilded 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 created, featuring 27 Himalayan Birch trees representing the original number of servicemen buried at the site, water feature incorporating a memorial stone bearing the names of those once buried at the site, bold strips of pink and white heather orientated towards Mecca, two stone ceremonial prayer mats and benches for quiet contemplation. A footpath to Monument Road will be created and CCTV cameras installed as part of the project.

Once complete, the site will become an integral part of the Armed Forces' ongoing cultural diversity training and annual memorial services for the local community and Armed Forces.

Community-minded military

As part of the project, on Wednesday 18 June serving British Army soldiers including members of the Armed Forces Muslim Association will show their community spirit when volunteering their time to assist with vital ground preparation works before work on the peace garden can commence.

The project is being run in partnership between Horsell Common Preservation Society, owners of the site, and Woking Borough Council.

For further information on the Muslim Burial Ground, please email mbg@woking.gov.uk or visit www.woking.gov.uk/muslimburialground or www.horsellcommon.co.uk