Northampton War Memorial

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Northampton War Memorial
United Kingdom
Northampton.War Memorial (Gordon's War Memorials).jpg
For servicemen from Northamptonshire killed in the First and Second World Wars
Unveiled1926
Location 52°14′14″N0°53′45″W / 52.23729°N 0.89574°W / 52.23729; -0.89574 Coordinates: 52°14′14″N0°53′45″W / 52.23729°N 0.89574°W / 52.23729; -0.89574
Wood Hill, Northampton, England
Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens
Listed Building – Grade I
Official nameThe Town and County War Memorial
Designated22 January 1976
Reference no. 1191327

Northampton War Memorial, officially the Town and County War Memorial, is a First World War memorial on Wood Hill in the centre of Northampton, the county town of Northamptonshire, in central England. Designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, it is a Stone of Remembrance flanked by twin obelisks draped with painted stone flags standing in a small garden in what was once part of the churchyard of All Saints' Church.

Northampton county town of Northamptonshire, England

Northampton is the county town of Northamptonshire in the East Midlands of England. It lies on the River Nene, about 67 miles (108 km) north-west of London and 54 miles (87 km) south-east of Birmingham. It is one of the largest towns in the UK. Northampton had a population of 212,100 in the 2011 census.

A county town in Great Britain or Ireland is usually, but not always, the location of administrative or judicial functions within the county. The concept of a county town is ill-defined and unofficial. Following the establishment of county councils in 1889, the administrative headquarters of the new authorities were usually located in the county town of each county. However, this was not always the case and the idea of a "county town" pre-dates the establishment of these councils. For example, Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire but the county council is located at Preston.

Northamptonshire County of England

Northamptonshire, archaically known as the County of Northampton, is a county in the East Midlands of England. In 2015 it had a population of 723,000. The county is administered by Northamptonshire County Council and by seven non-metropolitan district councils. It is known as "The Rose of the Shires".

Contents

Discussion of a war memorial for Northampton began shortly after the armistice in 1918, and from July 1919 a temporary wooden cenotaph stood on Abington Street in the town centre. The Northamptonshire War Memorial Committee commissioned Lutyens to design a permanent memorial. The monument's design was completed and approved quickly, but its installation was delayed by six years until the site could be purchased from the Church of England, which required a faculty from the local diocese. The memorial was finally unveiled on 11 November 1926 after a service and a parade including local schoolchildren and civic leaders.

A faculty is a legal instrument or warrant in canon law, especially a judicial or quasi-judicial warrant from an ecclesiastical court or tribunal.

Northampton's memorial is one of the more elaborate town memorials in England. It uses three features characteristic of Lutyens' war memorials: a pair of obelisks, the Stone of Remembrance (which Lutyens designed for the Imperial War Graves Commission), and painted stone flags on the obelisks, which were rejected for his Cenotaph in London but feature on several of his other memorials. Today it is a Grade I listed building; it was upgraded from Grade II in 2015 when Lutyens' war memorials were declared a "national collection" and all were granted listed building status or had their listing renewed.

Listed building Collection of protected architectural creations in the United Kingdom

A listed building, or listed structure, is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, Cadw in Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.

Background

The First World War produced casualties on an unprecedented scale; men from every town and village in Northamptonshire died in the war, with the exception of two thankful villages (East Carlton in the north of the county and Woodend in the south). In the war's aftermath, thousands of memorials were built across Britain. [1]

East Carlton village in the United Kingdom

East Carlton is a village and civil parish in the county of Northamptonshire, on the southern ridge overlooking the Welland valley to the north and covers 1,645 acres (666 ha) on a long strip of land. It is 2 miles (3.2 km) west of the town of Corby and is administered as part of the Corby Borough. At the time of the 2001 census, the parish's population was 270, reducing to 259 at the 2011 census. East Carlton is one of the Thankful Villages that suffered no fatalities during World War I. Although in Northamptonshire, the village is in the Leicestershire LE16 postcode area.

Woodend, Northamptonshire village in United Kingdom

Woodend is a small village in the district of South Northamptonshire in the English county of Northamptonshire.

Among the most prominent designers of war memorials was architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, described by Historic England as "the leading English architect of his generation". [2] Prior to the First World War, Lutyens established his reputation designing country houses for wealthy patrons; in the war's aftermath, he devoted much of his time to memorialising the casualties. He served as one of the three principal architects to the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC; later the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, CWGC) and designed numerous war memorials for towns and villages across Britain, as well as several elsewhere in the Commonwealth. He was responsible for the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London, which became the focal point of the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations; the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, the largest British war memorial anywhere in the world; and the Stone of Remembrance (also known as the Great War Stone), which appears in all large Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries and forms part of several of his civic memorials, including Northampton's. [2] [3] [4] [5]

Edwin Lutyens British architect

Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, was an English architect known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era. He designed many English country houses, war memorials and public buildings. In his biography, the writer Christopher Hussey wrote, "In his lifetime (Lutyens) was widely held to be our greatest architect since Wren if not, as many maintained, his superior". The architectural historian Gavin Stamp described him as "surely the greatest British architect of the twentieth century".

Historic England Executive non-departmental public body of the British Government, tasked with protecting the historical environment of England

Historic England is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It is tasked with protecting the historical environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings, ancient monuments and advising central and local government.

Whitehall road in the City of Westminster, in central London

Whitehall is a road in the City of Westminster, Central London, which forms the first part of the A3212 road from Trafalgar Square to Chelsea. It is the main thoroughfare running south from Trafalgar Square towards Parliament Square. The street is recognised as the centre of the Government of the United Kingdom and is lined with numerous departments and ministries, including the Ministry of Defence, Horse Guards and the Cabinet Office. Consequently, the name 'Whitehall' is used as a metonym for the British civil service and government, and as the geographic name for the surrounding area.

Commissioning

The memorial from the west side, with three of the four painted flags visible Town and County War Memorial, Northampton (15).jpg
The memorial from the west side, with three of the four painted flags visible

Northampton's first war memorial was a temporary cenotaph built from wood and plaster which stood in Abington Street from July 1919 as a placeholder until a more permanent memorial could be erected; the temporary cenotaph was the focal point for remembrance services until the installation of the permanent memorial. As in several towns and cities, there were discussions within the town as to whether its war memorial should serve a purely monumental purpose or some sort of community function. Suggestions included renovating civic buildings, a new 2,000-seat concert hall, and a classical-style arch on Guildhall road. The Northamptonshire War Memorial Committee, chaired by local landowner John Powys, 5th Baron Lilford, eventually commissioned Lutyens to design a purely commemorative monument, and selected a site in part of the churchyard of All Saints' Church. The memorial was funded by public donations, including a donation of £50 from Lord Lilford. [2] [6] [7]

Cenotaph "empty tomb" or monument erected in honor of a person whose remains are elsewhere

A cenotaph is an empty tomb or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb for a person who has since been reinterred elsewhere. Although the vast majority of cenotaphs honour individuals, many noted cenotaphs are instead dedicated to the memories of groups of individuals, such as the lost soldiers of a country or of an empire.

John Powys, 5th Baron Lilford was a British peer and cricketer

All Saints Church, Northampton Church in United Kingdom

All Saints' Church, Northampton situated in the centre of Northampton, is a Parish Church of the Church of England and Northampton's Civic Church. It is a Grade I listed building.

Lutyens' designs were complete by 1920 and approved in November of that year, but as the chosen site was part of the churchyard, and several graves would have to be relocated to accommodate the memorial, the war memorial committee had to seek a faculty from the Diocese of Peterborough (the diocese in whose jurisdiction Northampton falls), which delayed the installation. [2] [8] The Reverend Geoffrey Warden, vicar of All Saints' Church, submitted the application in 1922, supported by two church wardens and two parishioners. [9] Construction work commenced only in 1926, six years after the completion of the designs. By July 1926, the Northampton Independent reported that the obelisks had been carved and were waiting for the flags to be painted before they could be erected. [10]

Design

Northampton's is a comparatively elaborate war memorial, especially for a town rather than a city. It consists of a Stone of Remembrance flanked by tall twin obelisks, each adorned with a pair of painted stone flags. Its use of obelisks, a Stone of Remembrance, and painted flags—all features characteristic of Lutyens' war memorials—make it particularly significant among his works. [2] [11]

Each obelisk sits on a tall, four-tiered rectangular column which itself stands on a wider, undercut square plinth. The obelisks and their supporting columns are ornately decorated. A narrow cross is set into the obelisks while the town's coat of arms is moulded onto the columns; the columns contain deep decorative niches, forming an arch shape beneath the obelisks. Obelisks feature in several of Lutyens' war memorials, though only Northampton's and Manchester's use a pair of flanking obelisks (in Manchester's case, the obelisks flank a cenotaph, rather than a stone); both are particularly fine designs in which Lutyens uses the obelisks with "dignity and simple dramatic effect", according to historian Richard Barnes. [12] [13] The obelisks are inscribed with the dates of the First and Second World Wars in Roman numerals (the inscriptions relating to the Second World War were added at a later date). [2] [8] [9] [14]

Town and County War Memorial, Northampton (06).jpg
Town and County War Memorial, Northampton (02).jpg
Close-ups of the obelisks showing the decorative carving and the draped stone flags

Two stone flags—painted in the form of the Union Flag and the flags of the Royal Navy (the White Ensign), Merchant Navy (the Red Ensign), and Royal Air Force (the RAF Ensign)—appear to hang from each obelisk, draping around the cornices; each flag is surmounted by gold wreaths. Lutyens first proposed stone flags for use on the Cenotaph on Whitehall, but the proposal was rejected in favour of fabric flags (though they were used on several other memorials, including Rochdale Cenotaph and the Arch of Remembrance in Leicester [15] [16] ). [2] [17] The stone is a monolith (carved from a single piece of rock), curved so slightly as to barely be visible to the naked eye, 12 feet (3.7 metres) long and devoid of any decoration beyond the inscriptions. Unusually, the Stone of Remembrance is inscribed on both faces. The east face bears the inscription Lutyens chose for all his Stones of Remembrance: "THEIR NAME LIVETH / FOR EVERMORE", as suggested by Rudyard Kipling, truncated from a verse in the Book of Ecclesiastes; the west face is inscribed "THE SOULS OF THE RIGHTEOUS / ARE IN THE HANDS OF GOD", from The Wisdom of Solomon. [2] [5] [18] [19]

The whole memorial is raised on a stone platform that forms a narrow path between the stone and the obelisks. The Stone of Remembrance is further raised on three stone steps. The memorial stands in a small garden now just outside the All Saints churchyard, defined by a low stone wall to the front and a yew hedge to the rear with ornamental gateways to either side. The gates are of cast iron and supported by large stone piers with urn finials. The wall is inscribed: "TO THE MEMORY OF ALL THOSE OF THIS TOWN AND COUNTY WHO SERVED AND DIED IN THE GREAT WAR". [2] [20] [21]

History

The Stone of Remembrance in the centre of the memorial; Lutyens designed the stone for the Imperial War Graves Commission's cemeteries but it also features in several of his war memorials. Town and County War Memorial, Northampton (12).jpg
The Stone of Remembrance in the centre of the memorial; Lutyens designed the stone for the Imperial War Graves Commission's cemeteries but it also features in several of his war memorials.

The memorial was eventually unveiled on 11 November (Armistice Day) 1926, as part of a large ecumenical service, which included 5,000 local schoolchildren. The crowd was large enough that the service could not be accommodated in the church and was instead held in the market square. At the conclusion of the service, the crowd proceeded to the new memorial; the parade was led by veterans from the Battle of Mons and included other military representatives, nurses from Northampton General Hospital, and the town's civic leaders. Once in the square, the unveiling was performed by General Henry Horne, 1st Baron Horne and the memorial was dedicated by the Reverend Norman Lang, Suffragan Bishop of Leicester. Horne committed the memorial to the care of the town's mayor and Northamptonshire County Council, and in his speech referred to Northampton's role as the county town; he observed that communities across Northamptonshire would be erecting their own memorials, but felt that it was "right and fitting that there should stand in the county town some visible monument, some tangible memorial appealing to the heart through the eye, of the bravery, devotion to duty, and self-sacrifice of the men of Northamptonshire". [2] The Prince of Wales laid a wreath during a ceremony on 7 July 1927, the year after the unveiling. [6] [21]

The Town and County War Memorial does not contain a list of casualties. The local branch of the Royal British Legion launched a campaign for a memorial dedicated to the town and containing a list of names. A garden of remembrance was built in Abington Square, the location of the original temporary cenotaph, and unveiled by Major General Sir John Brown in 1937; the names of the fallen were inscribed on the garden walls. The memorial to Edgar Mobbs—a professional rugby player from Northampton who was killed in the First World War in 1917—was moved into the garden. [22] [21] [23]

The memorial was designated a Grade II* listed building on 22 January 1976. [2] In November 2015, as part of commemorations for the centenary of the First World War, Lutyens' war memorials were recognised as a "national collection". All 44 of his free-standing memorials in England were listed or had their listing status reviewed and their National Heritage List for England list entries updated and expanded. As part of this process, Northampton War Memorial was upgraded to Grade I. [24]

See also

Related Research Articles

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References

Bibliography

Footnotes

  1. Sawford, p. 134.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Historic England. "The Town and County War Memorial (1191327)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  3. Boorman (1988), p. 121.
  4. Ridley, pp. 278–279.
  5. 1 2 Corke p. 57.
  6. 1 2 Boorman (1988), p. 122.
  7. Sawford, pp. 131–133.
  8. 1 2 Skelton, Tim (November 2015). "War Memorial of the Month – November 2015 – Northampton". Memorials of the Great War Exhibition. The Lutyens Trust. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  9. 1 2 Skelton, p. 73.
  10. Skelton, p. 75.
  11. Skelton, pp. 73–74.
  12. Borg, p. 96.
  13. Barnes, pp. 117–118.
  14. Skelton, p. 33.
  15. Skelton, p. 46.
  16. Ridley, p. 311.
  17. Skelton, p. 174.
  18. Skelton, p. 24.
  19. Ridley, p. 278.
  20. Pevsner, p. 319.
  21. 1 2 3 Boorman (2005), pp. 166–167.
  22. Boorman (1988), p. 123.
  23. Sawford, p. 136.
  24. "National Collection of Lutyens' War Memorials Listed". Historic England. 7 November 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2016.