Bream Cenotaph occupies a site with a commanding view across the Forest of Dean. The land in front of the cenotaph was settled by encroachment and the land behind it lay in a detached part of the parish of Newland.
Until 1976 the Forest of Dean belonged to the Crown and was originally a Royal hunting ground. The woodland and some non-wooded land is now looked after by Forestry England. The remoteness of the Forest from the ‘rule of law’ made it attractive for locals to fence in a parcel of land and build a house on it. Sometimes such encroachments were knocked down by the authorities and the squatters evicted but some managed to hold on to their land.
Eventually, by the mid 1800’s, it was all resolved, leaving the parcels of land we see on the maps today. Encroachment was not unique to Bream; it took place all around the edges of the Forest. However, encroachment in the centre of the Forest was less successful, hence the view from here over extensive areas of woodland we enjoy today.
The beacon was erected for the celebration of H.M. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It was last lit on Monday, June 4th, 2012, together with many others across the UK.
The cenotaph itself was designed as a smaller copy of the national Cenotaph at Whitehall in London.
The architects were Kennard and Kennard of Grey’s Inn Square, London, and the main differences in design when compared with the Whitehall Cenotaph is that the Bream monument has a stone cross set into the north side above the inscription and a list of names of those who died in World War One with an inscription “To our glorious dead”, not simply “The Glorious Dead”.
Bream Silver Band
Beyond the cenotaph, down a dirt track and just out of sight is Bream Band Hut. Bream Silver Band can often be heard practising from here, especially in summer when the windows of the band hut are open. The current band hut succeeded the original wooden ex-army hut. After an argument one day a band member, who had purchased the ground, threatened to turn the hut into a chicken coop. Luckily tempers cooled, the band continued and the chickens were deprived of a spacious new home. The band once had an unusual mode of transport when a band member borrowed his company’s tipper lorry to transport the band members around the village to play for the public. That would never be allowed today.
Trombone legend Brett Baker started his career with Bream Silver Band and went on to become 1st trombone with the world famous Black Dyke Mills band.
The Rising Sun
Behind us is the Rising Sun Inn, one of the oldest buildings in the village. In 2019 the bar was moved from the main buildings into the single storey building to the right.
A weathered stone tablet high above a door to the original pub bears the date 1729. Many local organisations have been photographed in front of the current pub building on the right, including Bream Silver Band and various sports teams. Bream Rugby Club once had their headquarters here. The tall fluted iron pillar out front once supported an oil lamp. The horizontal bars at the top supported the lamplighter’s ladder. There is a similar pillar in Bream churchyard.
The Rising Sun has given its name to some features in the village. The land on which the cenotaph stands is called the Sun Tump and the land below the sports field became known as Sun Green after previously being referred to as Bream’s Green.
The large building further up the road and on the right is described by Geoff Wildin:
“Across the street is the largest shop in Bream, Williams and Cotton. This was one of a chain of shops across the Forest of Dean. On entering you are met with a lovely smells; bacon, cheese and such like on one side, on the other were tins of biscuits sold loose, spices of all descriptions sold by the ounce, in fact all the food that anyone could want, at the back of the shop are bins of corn, wheat and oats all sold by the peck”. The shop even sent a girl around the area with a notepad to take orders for delivery.Geoff Wildin
Geoff describes the opposite side of the street:
“the double shop of Mr. and Mrs. Schlosberg, with ladies clothes on one side and men’s on the other. They sell all types of garments and even if there isn’t anything to take your fancy you always seem to come out with something. Miss Brooks has a little shop next door that sells cakes and sweets. This stretch of the road was known as “Camm’s Flue”. The Camms must have been quite a rich family because they owned most of the buildings in this area”.Geoff Wildin