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Spitalfields Christ Church War Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Spitalfields & Banglatown, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5187 / 51°31'7"N

Longitude: -0.074 / 0°4'26"W

OS Eastings: 533725

OS Northings: 181735

OS Grid: TQ337817

Mapcode National: GBR W9.HR

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.N3Q2

Entry Name: Spitalfields Christ Church War Memorial

Location: Tower Hamlets, London, E1

County: London

District: Tower Hamlets

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Locality: Spitalfields & Banglatown

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Listing Date: 15 March 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1444657

Summary

First World War memorial, c1920, by monumental masons Haile & Son Ltd of London.

Description

First World War memorial, erected c1920, by monumental masons Haile & Son Ltd of London.

MATERIALS: rough-hewn grey granite with applied lead lettering.

DESCRIPTION: Spitalfields Christ Church War Memorial stands in the gardens to the south of Christ Church, Commercial Street, Spitalfields. It is located in the southern section of Christ Church Gardens next to a path which leads from Commercial Street to the west. The memorial cross faces north comprising a roughly hewn Latin cross atop a conical cairn-type base of near equal height, the whole standing approximately 12ft tall and being approximately 4ft wide at the base of the cairn. The base is composed of blocks of rough-hewn granite brought to courses and set on a similarly battered flush plinth course of pecked granite. Individual blocks, distributed about the circumference of the cairn, carry the 81 names and ranks of the fallen in lead lettering, these being applied within rectangular smooth-dressed fields. Not every block carries a name. The base of the cairn records the maker: 'HAILE & SON LTD, BOSTON RD NW’.

The memorial's main inscription, also in applied lead lettering, is found on the horizontal arm of the cross, on its north face and reads:

‘GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN / THIS THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS / LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS’

Beneath the main inscription, on the north side of the memorial towards the bottom of the cross and near to the top of the cairn, are the dates '1914 / 1918' in applied lead lettering. This is also repeated on the south side of the memorial.

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 the country. This was the result of both the huge impact on communities of the loss of three quarters of a million British lives, and also 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 Christ Church Spitalfields as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.

The memorial was erected c1920 and commemorates the 81 local servicemen who fell in the Fist World War. The 1952 OS map indicates that it formerly stood in a more prominent position immediately to the south/south-west of the main entrance to the church.

In 1983, as part of wider works to the west forecourt of the church building, the memorial was moved to its present location within the church's disused graveyard, known as Christ Church Gardens.

Reasons for Listing

Spitalfields Christ Church War Memorial, situated in Christ Church Gardens, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historical interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this local community, and the sacrifices it made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Architectural interest: as a simple, yet distinctive, cairn-type Latin cross war memorial which is well-executed in rough-hewn granite;
* Group value: with a number of significant listed buildings in the immediate vicinity, the most notable being Hawksmoor's exceptional Christ Church Spitalfields (Grade I).

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