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Grasmere War Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Lakes, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.4611 / 54°27'40"N

Longitude: -3.0219 / 3°1'18"W

OS Eastings: 333853

OS Northings: 507788

OS Grid: NY338077

Mapcode National: GBR 7JBV.KK

Mapcode Global: WH825.K46B

Entry Name: Grasmere War Memorial

Listing Date: 13 February 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1441481

Location: Lakes, South Lakeland, Cumbria, LA22

County: Cumbria

District: South Lakeland

Civil Parish: Lakes

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Grasmere St Oswald

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

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Summary

First World War memorial, designed by W G Collingwood and unveiled on 13 May 1921, with Second World War additions.

Description

MATERIALS: Westmorland Green Slate.

DESCRIPTION: the memorial is located on a low outcrop in Broadgate Recreation Ground in Grasmere and comprises a Celtic-style wheel-head cross. The front face of the cross is decorated with carved Scandinavian interlace designs around a central boss in the cross-head. The cross surmounts a rectangular tapered shaft which has designs incorporating panels which symbolise peace and victory, a dove bearing an olive branch, a herringbone design panel, and a stag trampling upon the serpent of evil, a traditional motif for the Christian conquest over sin and error.

Below this on the shaft is the inscription carved in relief which reads IN HONOUR OF THE MEN/ OF GRASMERE WHO/ FOUGHT AND IN EVER/ THANKFUL MEMORY/ OF THE MEN WHO DIED/ FOR GOD, FOR KING, FOR HOME/ FOR FREEDOM, PEACE & RIGHT/ IN THE GREAT WAR/ 1914 – 1918/ 1939 – 1945.

The shaft is set upon a tapered plinth with sloping shoulders which is inscribed with THE IMMORTAL DEAD/ THESE DIED IN WAR THAT WE AT PEACE MIGHT LIVE/ THESE GAVE THEIR BEST, SO WE OUR BEST SHOULD GIVE/ NOT FOR THEMSELVES, FOR FREEDOM, HOME AND RIGHT/ THEY FOUGHT AND BID US FORWARD TO THE FIGHT/ SEE YE TO IT THAT THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN.

On the back face of the cross and shaft are similar carved interlace designs with the possible name of the makers or masons but this is illegible. The shaft is set upon a rectangular paved and kerbed enclosure.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 17 February 2017.

History

The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials erected across England, both as a result of the huge impact the loss of three quarters of a million British lives had on communities and the official policy of not repatriating the dead, which meant that the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss.

One such memorial was raised at Grasmere as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.

William Gershom Collingwood (1854–1932) designed several memorials including the cross to John Ruskin at Coniston and First World War memorials at Grasmere, Coniston and Hawkshead amongst others. Collingwood was a pupil of Ruskin’s and had been helping him at Brantwood editing a number of Ruskin's texts. Collingwood’s biography of Ruskin, published in 1893 and rewritten in 1900, became a standard work. In the 1890s Collingwood found his vocation as a painter and also became interested in Lake District history. He joined the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society in 1887 studying Norse and Anglican archaeology in the north, particularly the artistic aspect of it, on which he became widely recognised as the leading authority. His most important work, Northumbrian Crosses of the pre-Norman Age was published in 1927. These interests influenced his 1901 design of Ruskin’s memorial which was in the form of an Anglo-Celtic cross with interlace scrollwork and symbolic panels (Grade II) and his First World War memorial designs. The choice of such crosses for the war memorials on the part of the Cumbrian local authorities reflects the civic commitment to the region’s Scandinavian past. Collingwood’s interlace designs for each memorial are all individual and not repeated. Informed by his scholarly and artistic expertise they are among the most distinguished works that he produced in his career.

Grasmere War Memorial was designed by Collingwood and it was influenced by the Gosforth Cross, an early C10 Anglo-Scandinavian cross at Gosforth in Cumbria (scheduled monument). Grasmere War Memorial was commissioned by Canon Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust and a friend of Collingwood. The short verse at the base of the memorial was by Rawnsley. The memorial was unveiled and dedicated by the Bishop of Carlisle on 13 May 1921.

Following the Second World War, an inscription was added for those who lost their lives in that conflict.

Reasons for Listing

Grasmere War Memorial is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this local community, and the sacrifice it has made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Architectural interest: an ornate and striking Westmorland Green Slate memorial cross with an impressive composition of finely carved panels which symbolise peace and victory, with the stag trampling upon the serpent and other designs;
* Designer: an excellent example of the work of William Gershom Collingwood informed by his scholarly and artistic expertise studying Norse and Anglican archaeology and early Northumbrian Crosses.

Selected Sources

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