The Widford War Memorial, a plain but handsome cross in Cornish granite, erected to the memory 14 residents of Widford whose lives given in the First World War (then known as the 'Great War'), was unveiled and dedicated in the afternoon of Saturday 25th March 1921, in the presence of a large gathering of parishioners in the churchyard of St. Mary's Church.
The cross had been erected by public subscription at cost of about £80. Collections had started the previous year. The collectors were Mr. Arthur Smith (former Police Sergeant of Widford) and Mr. W. Dorkin, and Mr. E J. Boake of Widford Lodge was chairman of the committee. The base the cross bore the names of the fallen men alphabetical order and the inscription: "To the glory of God, and in honour those who fought, and in lasting memory of those who fell."
The memorial was erected in a prominent place just inside the churchyard made a very suitable site, the memorial being in full view of the main London Road.
The unveiling of the memorial was performed Sir Daniel Gooch, Bart. formerly of Hylands Park whose son was one of those named. Sir Daniel had contributed to the cost. The Rev. F. S. Paynter, Rural Dean., then dedicated the cross, at the foot which were many beautiful floral tributes were placed by relatives, in memory of their loved ones.
On the same day two flags, the Union Jack and the White Ensign, the gifts of Sir Daniel, were dedicated. The flags are hung above the altar in the church, and the poles and fittings were prepared by Mr. W. E. Coleman, of Wood Street, Chelmsford.
In September 1921 Widford's Parochial Church Council agreed to place on the east wall of the north aisle of St. Mary's a 'shrine' which had formerly stood in the churchyard, the gift of Sir Daniel and a forerunner to the permanent war memorial. It had been in existence by December 1916, having been made from teak wood from the old H.M.S. Brittania, which had been the training ship for Midshipmen for many years. It included a cross made of copper, also from the ship. A receptacle had been added for flowers, and friends of men serving had been invited to place flowers therein. The shrine had been dedicated on the National Mission Sunday afternoon, the unveiling ceremony being conducted by Sir Daniel. Prior to its erection in the church the shrine had been 'cleaned and beautified' by Mr. W. E. Coleman.