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Trumpington War Memorial

A Grade II* Listed Building in Trumpington, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.1754 / 52°10'31"N

Longitude: 0.1126 / 0°6'45"E

OS Eastings: 544554

OS Northings: 255119

OS Grid: TL445551

Mapcode National: GBR L7N.R7P

Mapcode Global: VHHK8.WLW6

Plus Code: 9F4254G7+52

Entry Name: Trumpington War Memorial

Listing Date: 12 February 1999

Last Amended: 14 October 2016

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1245571

English Heritage Legacy ID: 472963

Location: Trumpington, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2

County: Cambridgeshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Trumpington

Built-Up Area: Cambridge

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Trumpington St Mary and St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Ely

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First World War memorial, 1921, by Eric Gill.


MATERIALS: Portland stone.

DESCRIPTION: the memorial consists of a 5.8m tapering, four-sided cross with relief carvings in the lower half of the shaft, atop a low plinth c 1.2m square, also with pictorial relief carvings, which stands on a three-stepped base.

The Latin cross head is inscribed with monogram KR, an abbreviation for the Greek CHRISTOS. At the mid-point of shaft, where the shaft widens, begins moulded oval cartouches and arch panels below. Oval cartouches to four sides all have a small pattee cross at the top and bottom, between which are carved the First World War names, nine on each side.

The arched panels at the foot of the shaft contain four relief carvings of religious imagery. The first shows a seated St Mary, with baby, a cradle before her and lily plant behind. The second shows St Michael, a winged and haloed figure thrusting a sword into the mouth of a female dragon representing the devil and treading on her long and coiled tail. The third depicts St George, slaying a much more reptilian dragon, protecting a haloed female figure behind him who is bound to a tree. The final panel depicts a weary soldier, based on a design by David Jones. The soldier heads west into the sunset, weighted by his greatcoat, the rifle over his shoulder and without doubt his experience at the front, passing blasted tree stumps, his helmeted head bowed.

The plinth has similar moulded arcading, forming three arches on each side.

The plinth bears the principal First World War inscriptions and also the Second World War names and dates. All inscriptions in incised serif-based caps lettering. The principal inscription, on one face of the plinth, beneath the carving of St Michael reads: (Left arch) 1914 / (Central arch) MEN / OF TRUM- / PINGTON / WHO GAVE / THEIR LIVES / IN THE / GREAT / WAR / (Right arch) 1918. On the plinth, underneath the carving of St Mary: (Central arch) FOR / LIBERTY / AND / JUSTICE.

The shaft carries the First World War names above the relief carvings. On the plinth, underneath the carving of the soldier are inscribed the Second World War names: (Left arch) (NAMES) / (Central arch) 1939 / 1945 / (Right arch) (NAMES). On the plinth, underneath the carving of St George: (Left arch) JACK / CREEK was added in 2014.

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, 13 January 2017.


A large roll of honour board was unveiled in the Church of St Mary and St Michael at Trumpington in September 1915. This named 69 men from Trumpington who had enlisted, two of whom had already been killed in action and one invalided out of the Army. One of those killed was Captain Francis Percy Campbell-Pemberton, 2nd Life Guards, only son of Canon T Percy Pemberton and Mrs Patience Francis Sophia Pemberton of Trumpington Hall. He was killed in Belgium on 19 October 1914 and a memorial tablet to him was commissioned from Eric Gill and placed inside the church in 1915. This may have been through a connection between the Pemberton family and Edward Johnson, who had been Eric Gill’s calligraphy tutor. It would appear to be this prior connection with Eric Gill that led to him being invited to design the village memorial at the end of the war.

Eric Gill (1882-1940) was one of the most celebrated lettercutters, engravers, typographers and sculptors of his time. Before the First World War he built his reputation on his work as a lettercutter and engraver, but began to sculpt in 1909, preferring the unconventional direct carving style of practice. After the First World War he was commissioned to design war memorials including at Bisham, Briantspuddle, Chirk, Leeds University and South Harting. His work later included large architectural sculptures, including figures for the exterior of Broadcasting House and a large relief entitled The Creation of Adam at the League of Nations Palace, Geneva.

Trumpington War Memorial Committee was formed in May 1919 as a sub-committee of the Parish Council. There was much discussion about the form the memorial should take. Initial suggestions included a clock tower, an obelisk, and gardens with tennis courts. It was the family at Trumpington Hall which took responsibility for corresponding with Gill. His letters went to either Dr or Mrs Wingate; Mrs Wingate was Viola Pemberton, daughter of Canon and Mrs Pemberton and sister to Captain Francis Percy Campbell-Pemberton who had been killed. The Pembertons were heavily involved, as well as being the largest donors to the project, giving £200. Gill met with Dr Wingate in Trumpington on 24 January 1920 to discuss the commission. Gill sent a design for a carved cross shortly after and an estimated cost of £400 to carry out all of the work, excluding carriage and installation, and agreed to make a model.

By September 1920, Trumpington's War Memorial Committee had approved Gill’s design and were appealing for £400 from the public. Gill himself appears to have been heavily involved in the work, possibly carrying out all of the carving himself or, as was often his practice, touching up the work which an apprentice had carried out according to his design. He wrote to Dr Wingate in October 1921 enclosing plans for the inscriptions and drawings of the four proposed carved panels, which would illustrate St Mary with baby, a rare St Michael slaying the dragon (a devil), St George slaying the dragon, and a tired soldier returning from the front (this panel based on a David Jones design). St Mary and St Michael are the patron saints of the parish church.

The memorial was erected at the junction of High Street and Church Lane, just outside the entrance to the drive of Trumpington Hall. The site was known as Cross Hill and the remains of an early cross base were discovered there when the foundations for the war memorial were being dug.

It was unveiled by Charles Adeane, CB, JP, Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, on 11 December 1921 and followed by a church service led by the parish vicar, Rev. Moule.

Eight Second World War names were added later, possibly by David Kindersley, who had been one of Eric Gill’s later apprentices. An additional Second World War
name was added in 2014.

The memorial was originally set into bare ground, later surrounded by a cobbled surface (since at least the 1960s). In 2014, a Flemish clay paving was installed around the memorial.

Reasons for Listing

Trumpington War Memorial, situated at the junction of High Street and Church Lane, outside the gates to Trumpington Hall, 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 community, and the sacrifices it made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Architectural interest: as one of the finest works of the nationally renowned sculptor, Eric Gill, in the simple and elegant form of a medieval-inspired cross;
* Sculptural interest: including characteristic moulded panels containing dynamic and accomplished carvings of religious scenes, including a rare depiction of St Michael, and, unusually for Gill, a soldier in contemporary kit, in addition to fine lettering;
* Design: as one of the finest examples of work by Gill that combined his skills in architecture, sculpture, and lettering, and was based upon the traditional medieval form of a cross;
* Historic association: as a rare example of a war memorial standing on the site of an earlier (possibly C13) cross, the base of which was discovered during excavations for the war memorial;
* Group value: with Grade II-listed buildings on the High Street.

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