Mosaic Memorials Unique Bespoke Designs

Graves containing mosaic memorials have been around for centuries. However, despite their durability, they are are not commonly seen in cemeteries.


Some examples of the earliest mosaic memorials can be found at the Bardo museum in the Tunisian capital of Tunis, which contains Christian tombstones dating back to the 4th or 5th century AD. More recently, at the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris, there is memorial of a giant mosaic cat. This was made by artist Niki de Sant Phalle to mark the grave of her assistant Ricardo Menon, who died of AIDS in 1989.

Recently Sarsfield Memorials has been commissioned by a family to produce a bespoke memorial for a very special little boy. They wanted a mosaic in the design of a star and had found an artist to work with them and Sarsfield to produce a design of their choice.

The artist Tracey spent time with the family discussing their request. She invited them to her studio to make the design, cutting and shaping the glass then positioning it within the star template. They also made their own mosaic pieces to take away and keep to remember their day.

Mosaic memorials

Tracey finished off the design in her studio then brought it to Sarsfield’s workshop and we inlaid the glass mosaic star into the slate headstone. The outer edge of the star and areas within its shape are made of iridescent glass. There is also glass with gold leaf in it, which beautifully reflects the sunlight allowing it to shine so brightly.

Tracey welcomes new commissions and would like to work with families and masons to produce individual designs for glass or ceramic mosaic memorials. These can be inlaid into headstones, leaving a personal design that can be symbolic to a family and add a permanent colour to memorials.

At Sarsfield Memorials we welcome any enquiries regarding bespoke or standard design memorials that include mosaic art, giving you the opportunity to produce something special for your own memorial. Please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements.

The Grave of William Ratcliffe VC

Wednesday 14th June 2017 marked one hundred years to the day since William Ratcliffe carried out an act of bravery for which he received the Victoria Cross. To mark the centenary a commemorative stone was unveiled at the Church of Our Lady & St Nicholas in Liverpool.

Photo courtesy of Catherine Sing

Photo courtesy of Catherine Sing

William was born in Newhall Street in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle in 1884 and educated at the nearby St Vincent de Paul school. He worked briefly as a docker but joined the army at the age of seventeen and immediately saw action, serving in the Second Boer War in South Africa.

After twelve years in the army William went back to the docks but enlisted at the outbreak of World War One in 1914. He joined the South Lancashire Regiment, initially fighting in northern France where developed a reputation of somebody who was fearless.


In April 1917 William was awarded the Military Medal after taking out seven snipers who were firing on his company during the Battle of Messines in Belgium. Two months later in the same battle he carried out the action for which he received the Victoria Cross. After an enemy trench had been captured, William located an enemy machine-gun which was firing on his comrades from the rear, and single-handed, on his own initiative, immediately rushed the machine-gun position and bayoneted the crew. He then brought the gun back into action in the front line.williamratcliffe

One of Williams’s comrades, who died shortly afterwards from his wounds, told the Catholic Herald: “We had a hot time of it. We fought our way through a torrent of shell fire, and found ourselves raked flank and rear by machine-guns posted in commanding positions. One of the deadliest of these troublesome guns was posted in the rear and was playing havoc with our troops.  He dashed straight at the position and tackled the crew of the gun on his own. After a fierce struggle he killed or drove them off then picked up the gun and started back with it. He was fired on at once by the enemy and it was a miracle how he got through for all the time the bullets were raining around him and we never expected him to get through it. Once he tripped and fell. We thought he was done for. He wasn’t. He rose again and with a rush covered the last stretch of ground between him and safety.”

In October 1917 William was presented with the Victoria Cross by King George V and then attended a dinner in Liverpool given in his honour by the National Union of Dock Labourers. When he returned to civilian life  William went back to the docks to work but had an industrial accident and had to retire.

William Ratcliffe VC

William never married and lived with his sister and her husband in Dingle and then at St Oswald’s Gardens, Old Swan. In 1956, to celebrate its centennial, all living Victoria Cross recipients were invited to attend a review with Queen Elizabeth II in London’s Hyde Park. William initially declined his invitation as he couldn’t afford a suit, but when a local gents outfitters stepped in to provide one he agreed to go. He told reporters that he felt a right toff given he had a top hat as well.

William Ratcliffe died in 1963, falling ill whilst on his way to a public house in Old Swan. He was 79 years old. A requiem mass was held at St Oswald’s Church and he was buried in Allerton cemetery alongside his niece.

William’s VC medal is on display at the Imperial War Museum in London. His name is commemorated on a Roll of Honour in Liverpool Town Hall that contains the names of all fourteen recipients of the Victoria Cross born in the city. A tablet and portrait of him that used to be on display in the TGWU building in St James Place was lost when it was demolished. He is now remembered again though thanks to the memorial that has been unveiled at the Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas.






Chinese Labour Corps Graves

In April 2017 a was launched to raise awareness of the role played by Chinese workers during the First World War. The eighteen month project aims to leave a lasting legacy of remembrance for an estimated 100,000 Chinese Labour Corps who assisted British forces on the Western Front.


The project was launched on 19th April by the Meridian Society, which aims to promote Chinese culture. The date was important as it was the centenary of the first contingent of Chinese Labour Corps (CLCs) arriving in France during World War I. Director Peng Whelan told those who attended “Our purpose is to honour this vast body of men who went to the Front and contributed to the cause. A labourer with his shovel is no less a man, no less a hero, than a soldier with his gun. And his work is no less a contribution to the cause.”

For nineteen months CLCs carried out a number of essential tasks for a British army that was severely depleted after more than two years of heavy fighting and losses.  They included digging the trenches and unloading munitions and supplies, putting themselves at risk of being caught in the crossfire. The CLCs had already endured a hazardous voyage to Europe taking up to three months which involved crossing the Pacific Ocean, journeying through Canada by rail, then taking another ship from Halifax to Liverpool.

When armistice was signed in November 1918 CLCs, who had been contracted for three years, remained in France and Belgium to clear munitions from battlefields, recover dead soldiers and lay out cemeteries. It was estimated that 2,000 CLCs died in Europe, many of them as a result of the Spanish Flu pandemic that came soon after peace was declared.

Chinese Labour Corps Graves Anfield Cemetery (5)

There are five CLC graves in Liverpool’s Anfield Cemetery, three of them having died at Belmont Road Military Hospital after falling victim to a mumps outbreak. On 28th March 2017, representatives from the academies of Liverpool and Everton football clubs attended a special service there along with members of the See Yep Association. White flowers were laid at the graves, the Last Post was played on a Chinese flute and candles lit adorned with the crests of both clubs.

The CLC Project has been awarded a lottery grant of just under £100,000 and is supported by the Chinese Embassy, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Imperial War Museum. It aims to produce a film and booklet for distribution to libraries, museums and schools so the contribution of the CLCs can be remembered for generations to come.