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Cirencester War Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Cirencester, Gloucestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.7173 / 51°43'2"N

Longitude: -1.968 / 1°58'4"W

OS Eastings: 402304

OS Northings: 202062

OS Grid: SP023020

Mapcode National: GBR 3QY.786

Mapcode Global: VHB2Q.T3YC

Entry Name: Cirencester War Memorial

Location: Cirencester, Cotswold, Gloucestershire, GL7

County: Gloucestershire

District: Cotswold

Parish: Cirencester

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Listing Date: 10 February 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1441574

Summary

First World War memorial designed by Sir John Ninian Comper and unveiled on 31 October 1918 with later additions for the Second World War.

Description

MATERIALS: Clipsham stone.

DESCRIPTION: the war memorial cross adjacent to the Church of St John the Baptist is a Calvary with Christ and two supporting figures. Beneath this is a roundel showing a pelican in her piety, and then a tapering faceted shaft over a square plinth and a three-stepped octagonal base. On the reverse face of the crucified Christ, Christ is portrayed as a child in the arms of his mother. This shield at her feet contains the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet, Alpha and Omega. There are inscriptions on two faces of the plinth, and a decorative rail for holding wreaths stands on the lowest step of the base.

The principal dedicatory inscription on the E face of the plinth reads: DEDICATED IN MEMORY OF THE/ MEN OF CIRENCESTER WHO GAVE/ THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR KING/ AND COVNTRY IN THE GREAT WAR/ AO DNI 1914 – 1919/ ALSO IN THE SECOND/ WORLD WAR 1939 – 1945. On the opposite (W) face is lettering in relief which reads IS IT NOTHING/ TO YOV ALL YE/ THAT PASS BY.

A small plaque is attached to the S face of the pedestal which reads CIRENCESTER WAR MEMORIAL/ “LEST WE FORGET”/ PLEASE RESPECT THIS MEMORIAL CROSS.

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.

The memorial at Cirencester was donated by Thomas Kingscote and the Hon Mrs Kingscote of Watermoor House, Cirencester. Thomas Kingscote was a notable citizen of Cirencester who had been in Royal service. It was designed by Sir John Ninian Comper (1864-1960) architect, principally of churches, first articled to the church architects Bodley and Garner. His independent work falls into two categories. Before c.1904 his work, like Bodley’s, was scrupulously based on the prevailing style of the C14 and is typified by St Cyprian, Clarence Gate, London, 1903, which he designed in its entirety. After c.1904, following a trip to the Mediterranean which made him realise the debt owed by Christian art to the classical tradition derived from ancient Greece, he began to add classical, renaissance and baroque details, in a more eclectic style, a leading example of which is his church of St Mary, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, 1904-40. In 1924-8 he designed in a thoroughly Classical style the Welsh National War Memorial (sculpture by Bertram Pegram), Cathays Park, Cardiff.

The Cirencester memorial was built by William D Gough and dedicated on 31 October 1918 by the Bishop of Gloucester.

As well as the free standing memorial on the SW side of the church, there are also rolls of honour carved into the W face of the S porch.

In March 2004 the memorial was conserved with the help of grant aid from War Memorials Trust.

Reasons for Listing

Cirencester War Memorial, which stands on Market Place, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifices it has made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Design: a tall and intricately carved Calvary cross;
* Designer: by the noteworthy church architect Sir John Ninian Comper;
* Group value: with the adjacent Church of St John the Baptist (Grade I), the scheduled and Grade II-listed High Cross and other Grade II-listed structures around Market Place.

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