Supporting public remembrance and commemoration and the development of the UK’s first national centre for remembrance

Submitting Institution

University of Worcester

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Journalism and Professional Writing
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

Impact derived from Prof Maggie Andrews' research was through collaboration, since 2008, with the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) in Staffordshire and, latterly, with archival and heritage organisations in Worcestershire and Staffordshire, to increase public involvement in practices of remembrance, memorialisation and commemoration and to enhance experience of them — both for those directly affected and for the general public. Andrews' collaboration with the NMA influenced development of the UK's first, national centre for remembrance during critical years of its evolution. Through assisting the NMA to envision and understand its role in the context of contemporary culture, her input informed the NMA's approach to supporting visitors' experience and framed and informed its developing approaches to visitor interpretation. Her collaboration with organisations in Staffordshire and Worcestershire supported development of approaches to forthcoming, national centenary commemoration of World War 1.

Underpinning research

Andrews' underpinning research addresses the representation of the past in popular culture and the mediation, personalisation and domestication of practices of remembrance. It was conducted in response to her perception of the massive increase in public engagement with remembrance, and particularly with a range of unofficial forms of remembrance, that can be identified in the last 15-20 years. Public mourning in response to Princess Diana's death, the Hillsborough disaster and public response to the passing of soldiers' coffins through Wootton Bassett are all examples.

Whilst there has been a range of academic work exploring how practices of remembrance are framed by the First World War or have developed within popular culture in the twentieth century, Andrews' work focuses, distinctively, on understanding contemporary remembrance practices as the interweaving of cultural memories, contemporary politics and domesticated media forms.

In the period since the First World War, conflict and remembrance have been experienced both at a personal level and through the media. Indeed for many, Andrews posits, the meanings, forms and performance of remembrance may, to a significant degree, have been constructed through multiple experiences of media remembrance. This growing focus of her research since 2008 developed in the context of her wider, longer-term interests in the interrelationship of domesticity and broadcasting. Taking a historical approach, her longer-term enquiry is based on close textual analysis and archival research (including the study of audience response to texts) ascertained, for example, through letters, diaries, Mass Observation directives and oral interviews. It argues that the domestic reception of broadcast media shapes and frames media preoccupations, style and content — literally, domesticating the airwaves.

In recent years, Andrews has explored how, within a media saturated society in which many individuals' experiences of war, conflict and remembrance are through television, web or radio, remembrance itself has become more domesticated, personalised and even feminised. Recent work has focused particularly on remembrance in early news film and radio, and on web sites and television. It suggests that personalised, mediated remembrance may serve as an interface between the domestic, unofficial and often feminised side of remembrance and its national, official forms in, for example, parades at the cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. For sites of remembrance to engage with the wider public, and in particular the young, they need, Andrews' research demonstrates, to utilise personalisation. Through individual narratives, they will be able to elicit empathy and support from the general public.

The research from which the impact described in this case study has been derived was conducted by Andrews while employed as Associate Head and Principal Lecturer in the Institute of Humanities & Creative Arts at the University of Worcester and, latterly, as Professor of Cultural History. Her research on remembrance is ongoing and currently developing in relation to the 2014-18 commemoration of World War 1. She is now exploring tensions between cosmopolitanism and nationalism in relation to gendered remembrance, alongside investigating the increasing popularity of imagery of the home front and the contemporary focus on women and families of the victims of war (as evidenced by recent introduction of the Elizabeth Cross) and the impact of these developments on public support for British engagement in overseas conflict.

Acknowledgement of the significance of Andrews' research led to an invitation to give a paper, `Contemporary, domesticated commemoration in a media culture: is it personal or political?', University of Birmingham (26 April 2013), presented as part of Birmingham's AHRC-funded seminar series on The Significance of the Centenary; it also led to invitations, made in the REF period, to give a keynote address at a conference on 'The First World War and its Global Legacies: One Hundred Years On' (Sunderland 2014) and to contribute an article on the commemorations for Twentieth Century British History in 2015.

With Prof. Karen Hunt (Keele University), Andrews made a successful bid, during the REF period, to work as regional advisor to the BBC for the AHRC-funded World War One at Home project. She was also invited, in the period, to contribute as a Co-I to AHRC Connected Communities Programme bids for Co-ordinating Centres for Community Research and Engagement to Commemorate the Centenary of the First World War being led by colleagues at the Universities of Keele and Birmingham (Birmingham's bid has since been announced as one of five bids to be successful, nationally), and to be part of the wider research network for Programme bids being led by the Universities of Leicester, Kent and Queen Mary's College London.

References to the research

Lest We Forget?: Remembrance and Commemoration Maggie Andrews with Charles Bagot Jewitt and Nigel Hunt (eds), The History Press, 2011, ISBN 978 0 7524 5965 3. Incl. two authored chapters by Andrews: `Web Remembrance in a Confessional Media Culture' (pp87-90) and `Suffrage, Spectacle and the Funeral of Emily Wilding Davison' (pp186-192).

Domesticating the Airwaves: Broadcasting, Domesticity and Femininity, Continuum, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4411-7272-3. See particularly Chapter 7 (pp179-208): `The personal becomes political: domesticity in turmoil and as a political project'.

Journal of War and Culture Studies, Vol. 4, No. 3, 2012 Special issue on Remembrance, Commemoration and Memorials, Dr Maggie Andrews, Charles Bagot Jewitt and Dr Nigel Hunt (eds). Includes article by Andrews: `Mediating Remembrance: personalization and celebrity in television remembrance' (pp. 357-70).

`Homes Both Sides of the Microphone: wireless and domestic space in inter-war Britain' Women's History Review Vol. 21, No. 4, 2012. Special issue on Space, Place and Gendered Identities: feminist history and the spatial turn.


Reviews of Andrews' book, Domesticating the Airwaves: Broadcasting, Domesticity and Femininity:

- Boyce Kay, Jilly, Feminist Media Studies, Vol. 13, Issue 1, p174, 2013

- Bingham, Adrian, Twentieth Century British History, Nov 18, 2012

- Purvis, Jane, BBC History, July 201

Details of the impact

The research from which the impact was derived was seeded by a preliminary phase of work conducted prior to Andrews' arrival at Worcester in 2010, when The Royal British Legion had sponsored a series of four multidisciplinary seminars that sought to explore contemporary and historical practices of remembrance: a need had been identified by the then Chief Executive of the National Memorial Arboretum, Charles Bagot Jewitt, to understand why remembrance had achieved such significant popular resonance over the preceding decade. Andrews organized these first seminars with psychologist Dr Nigel Hunt (Nottingham University) and Bagot Jewitt, with three held at the National Memorial Arboretum and one, at which Andrews spoke, at the headquarters of The Royal British Legion, Haig House, London. Attendees included Chris Simpkins, Director of The Royal British Legion and John Farmer, National Vice Chairman of The Royal British Legion.

As a direct result of the success of The Royal British Legion-sponsored seminars, from 2010-13 Andrews organized a further five seminars, and four day-conferences at the National Memorial Arboretum, in conjunction with the Women's History Network (Midlands region). These were self-funding, with each seminar attended by practitioners working in a range of areas connected to remembrance as well as academics and students. `Non-academic' attendees worked, for example, in non-formal education roles with the NMA and The Royal British Legion, in museum and archive interpretation and access, in veterans associations and with the War Widows Association; they also included members of the general public and members of women's organisations and attracted groups campaigning for new memorials including, for example, for a memorial for the Women's Land Army. The most recent conference in the REF period (16 March 2013), which explored Women, War and Work, was funded by the Economic History Society. The seminars, conferences and the website that supports them ( now thus operate as a resource for those working in both practical and academic terms in the field of remembrance.

The seminars provided the foundation for an edited collection, Lest We Forget: Remembrance and Commemoration (History Press, 2011), which includes over 30 short chapters (including two written by Andrews). The book was directed as much towards a general readership and professionals working in contexts of remembrance, as it was to academics, and hence its inclusion both as a reference to the research in section 3 of this study and as part of the cultural/societal impact derived from the research. Publication and reproduction permission costs were underwritten by The Royal British Legion and publication was timed to coincide with The Royal British Legion's 90th birthday and the NMA's 10th anniversary celebrations. The book has since been utilised by programme makers and media researchers developing documentaries and programmes on remembrance — for example ITV's programme Farewell to Wotton Bassett (20 August 2011) and the BBC documentary The Falklands: Healing the Wounds (2 April 2012).

Andrews' work also led to her being interviewed by BBC Herford and Worcester (eg on the Falklands War, 2/04/2012, and on WWI centenary preparations, 19/10/2013) and by Radio 4's Today programme on remembrance and mourning following the death of Prince Friso of Holland (15/8/2013).

Andrews' research on the recent phenomenon of the mediation, domestication and personalisation of remembrance, both in the military and populist spheres, informed developments at the NMA itself from 2008. These developments included, for example, the work of TellTale Co Interpretations Specialists and The Tourism Company in formulating a successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid which secured development of a £2M Remembrance Interpretation Centre within the £15 million redevelopment of the Arboretum's visitor facilities, due to open in 2015.

The NMA attracts, at present, approximately 400,000 visitors each year; these include not only the general public but also members of the armed forces and their friends and families. There is also a significant number of overtly educational visits, including school visits. The NMA expects footfall to grow once the redeveloped visitor facilities and the Interpretation Centre are completed.

Andrews' ongoing work with the NMA and her associated research and publication on remembrance is continuing to grow in impact in the run-up to the 2014 World War 1 centenary: in the REF period, she led University of Worcester involvement in local activity to mark the centenary, in partnership with local museums, archives, and groups including the Women's History Network, the NMA and The Western Front Association. She collaborated with colleagues at Worcestershire County Archive & Archaeology Service to produce a book on `Voices of World War 1' (Amberley Publishing, forthcoming) for use in Worcestershire libraries and schools. Her input into the Worcestershire WW1 Centenary Advisory Group over a period of two years supported development of its Worcestershire County Council Archive & Archaeology Service-led successful £353,000 HLF bid, `Worcester World War One 100' (HG-12-06354 £353,000) - the largest such HLF award made outside London; she also supported a variety of bids to national funding sources made by Worcester City Council and Worcestershire County Council for a project on Worcestershire war memorials. She continues to work with the NMA, with its most recent seminar, `Interpretation and Remembrance : the challenges of the WWI Centenary' (held post the REF period in September 2013) attracting over 50 attendees; her collaboration with Staffordshire Record Office and Museums Service's HLF project, `Children on the Move: Evacuation to Staffordshire' (2010-12) led to publication of the book, Children on the Move: Evacuation in Staffordshire (distributed to libraries, participants and schools), an NMA event for which she was keynote speaker, and a paper with Matthew Blake of Staffordshire Archives Service at the 2013, IHR-sponsored 'Enhancing Impact: Inspiring Excellence Conference', University of Birmingham, organised with the National Archives. In July 2013, in collaboration with Prof Karen Hunt of Keele University, Andrews was appointed as a regional advisor to the BBC for the AHRC-BBC Partnership `Our Place in the First World War', to support BBC development of its programming to mark the centenary.

Sources to corroborate the impact

Charles Bagot Jewitt, Chief Executive, National Memorial Arboretum 2006-13 and currently Eastern Area Officer, Marine Society & Sea Cadets, and Chief Executive. (Impact of Andrew's work on the work and thinking of the NMA and its successful HLF Lottery bid to develop a new interpretation centre).

Susan Cross, TellTale Co Interpretations Specialists. (Impact on approaches to, and the framing of, public engagement with remembrance).

Randi Cush, Education Officer, National Memorial Arboretum. (Impact of the incorporation of women's history and critical engagement with contemporary remembrance on the educational work of the NMA).

Dr Adrian Gregson, Archive Policy and Collections Manager and Diocesan Archivist, Worcestershire County Council; Leader, Worcester City Council. (Impact of Andrews' involvement as an advisor during development of Worcestershire's successful £353,000 HLF bid, `Worcester World War One 100'; impact of her advice and work on development of county-wide and city approaches to marking the World War 1 centenary).

Dr Matthew Blake, Participation and Engagement Officer, Archives and Heritage, Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Record Office. (Impact on development of approaches to, and activity associated with, marking the World War 1 centenary in Staffordshire).