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Cumberland and Westmorland Joint Counties’ War Memorial

A Grade II* Listed Building in Carlisle, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.9028 / 54°54'10"N

Longitude: -2.923 / 2°55'22"W

OS Eastings: 340909

OS Northings: 556844

OS Grid: NY409568

Mapcode National: GBR 8C0R.Z8

Mapcode Global: WH803.21C8

Plus Code: 9C6VW33G+4Q

Entry Name: Cumberland and Westmorland Joint Counties’ War Memorial

Listing Date: 11 April 1994

Last Amended: 27 July 2017

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1291971

English Heritage Legacy ID: 386844

Location: Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3

County: Cumbria

Electoral Ward/Division: Stanwix Urban

Built-Up Area: Carlisle

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Carlisle Stanwix St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

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War memorial. Erected in 1921-22, following the First World War, to the design of the architect Sir Robert Lorimer by the contractor John Laing and Son Ltd. A plaque was added after 1945 to commemorate the fallen of the Second World War and subsequent conflicts.


War memorial. Erected in 1921-22, following the First World War, to the design of the architect Sir Robert Lorimer by the contractor John Laing and Son Ltd. A plaque was added after 1945 to commemorate the fallen of the Second World War and subsequent conflicts.

MATERIALS: shap Granite ashlar with bronze plaques and cast-iron railings.

DESCRIPTION: the war memorial is situated at the centre of Rickerby Park, north of the River Eden. It comprises a broad raised platform 9m wide, approached by stone steps at the south, supporting a cenotaph 12m high. The cenotaph is built of shap granite ashlar with a tapering rectangular shaft on a chamfered three-tiered base. The shaft rises to a sub-cornice enriched by foliage carvings including palm branches, and is surmounted by a tomb decorated with a laurel wreath. The lower part of the shaft is carved with crests and insignia; those of Carlisle, Cumberland, the Royal Navy, the Army, the Royal Air Force and medical services on the front and those of the Border Regiment, the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry Cavalry, and the Cumberland Artillery on the back. On the base is the inscription in raised lettering: TO THE IMMORTAL MEMORY OF THE MEN AND WOMEN/ OF CUMBERLAND AND WESTMORLAND/ WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES DURING THE GREAT WAR/ AND IN HONOUR OF THE GLORIOUS SERVICES OF THE/ BORDER REGIMENT/ WESTMORLAND AND CUMBERLAND YEOMANRY/ CUMBERLAND BRIGADE ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY/ WESTMORLAND DETACHMENT R.A.M.C. Beneath it is a bronze plaque, which is inscribed in raised lettering: ALSO COMMEMORATING THOSE/ WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN/ WORLD WAR II (1939-1945)/ AND SUBSEQUENT CONFLICTS. The raised platform is constructed of three courses of massive stone blocks; two courses of quarry-faced granite topped by an ashlar parapet with a large terminal block at each angle. It is surrounded by a square enclosure formed of speared cast-iron railings and a cast-iron gate.


The aftermath of the First World War saw an unprecedented wave of public commemoration with tens of thousands of memorials erected across the country, 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 erected at Rickerby Park, Carlisle, as permanent testament to the sacrifice made by over 10,000 men of the Border Regiment, the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry Cavalry, and the Cumberland Artillery, who died during the war.

Rickerby Park is a landscaped park that was laid out in c1835 under George Head Head, the owner of the Rickerby estate. It provided a picturesque landscaped setting for Rickerby House. On 26th July 1861 a grand review of the Cumberland Rifle Volunteers took place in the park. A total of 750 troops were scrutinised by a government inspector amid an estimated crowd of about 12,000 spectators. The park was purchased as a war memorial park by The Carlisle Citizens League and the City Council in 1922. At this time it included 68 acres of pasture ‘well studded with trees’ (sales particulars cited in Carlisle City Council, 1997).

The Carlisle Citizens League was founded during the first week of the First World War. It dedicated itself to helping ex-servicemen, and founded the Lonsdale Battalion which looked after soldiers and sailors passing through Carlisle. After the war plans for a memorial were discussed; initial proposals for a triumphal arch and a new public hall were debated at a meeting on 15th November 1918. The League agreed to take an option on Rickerby Park as a suitable site for a memorial in June 1919. Carlisle City Council subsequently decided to contribute to a joint scheme that included the acquisition of the park. It was proposed that Rickerby Park itself should also serve as a ‘living memorial’ and a place of recreation. Near the centre, approached by footpaths, would be a stone cenotaph and, in order to improve access from the city centre, a bridge would be erected across the River Eden.

In May 1920 the Scottish architect, Sir Robert Lorimer (1864-1929) was consulted and subsequently appointed to design the cenotaph, following a recommendation by a committee of Carlisle architects. Lorimer was principally a domestic architect, working on restorations of historic houses and castles, and creating new work in Scots Baronial and Gothic Revival styles. Among his notable works were Formakin House, Renfrewshire, and the Thistle Chapel at St Gile’s Cathedral, Edinburgh. He was employed by the Imperial War Graves Commission after the First World War, carrying out work in Italy, Greece, Germany, Egypt and Macedonia. In 1919 Lorimer received the major commission of the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle, which was completed in 1927. He also designed the three great naval memorials to the missing at Chatham, Portsmouth, and Plymouth (all Grade I listed).

In 1920-22 the layout of Rickerby Park was altered as part of the conversion of the C19 landscaped park to a memorial park. Ex-servicemen were employed under the City Unemployment Scheme to carry out the work. A footpath was laid around the perimeter of the park and along the riverside, with additional paths leading to the cenotaph near the centre. A path was made from Eden Terrace at the west, road access improved, and tree cover within the park appears to have been modified; historic OS maps (1872 and 1925, 1:2500) indicate that individual trees were removed and several copses enlarged. Ex-servicemen also constructed the foundations of the cenotaph and bridge piers. The cenotaph was built by John Laing and Son Ltd, forming a granite monument 12m high resting on a platform 9m square. The word ‘cenotaph’ derives from the Greek for an empty tomb, signifying a monument to those whose remains are buried elsewhere. Redpath Brown & Co of Glasgow were appointed to construct the bridge across the River Eden. The total cost of the project was £21,000; £11,500 for the purchase of the park, £4500 for the bridge and £5000 for the cenotaph. A substantial proportion was raised by public subscription.

Rickerby Park was officially opened in a ceremony led by the Earl of Lonsdale, Lord Lieutenant for Cumberland, on Saturday 27th May 1922. An estimated crowd of 30,000 people gathered around the cenotaph, including: Archibald Creighton the Mayor of Carlisle, the Bishop of Carlisle, representatives of the local territorial and regular army units, voluntary aid detachments, members of the boy scouts, boys’ brigades, girl guides, over 5,000 school children, relatives of the fallen and residents from across Cumberland and Westmorland. Lord Lonsdale declared the bridge and park open, and then unveiled the cenotaph. Four sentries stood at the corners of the monument and a guard of honour next to it. The memorial service began with the hymn ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’ before the unveiling. The bishop then performed the dedication ceremony, buglers sounded the Last Post and there was a minute’s silence before the sounding of the Reveille. Wreaths and bunches of flowers were finally laid at the base of the cenotaph. They included one in memory of Lieutenant Collin, a Carlisle shop assistant who was awarded the Victoria Cross.

After the Second World War, a plaque was added to the cenotaph commemorating those that lost their lives during that and subsequent conflicts. The railings were repaired in 2005 at a cost of £2000 following flood damage. In 2014 conservation work was carried out at a total cost of £14,500. It involved the following: replacing broken sections of the railings and repainting them; installing a new gate; re-pointing the cenotaph and cleaning the stonework; removing foliage within the enclosure; and planting a new avenue of trees on the approach to the memorial.

Reasons for Listing

The Cumberland and Westmorland Joint Counties’ War Memorial, designed by Sir Robert Lorimer and built in 1921-22 at Rickerby Park, Carlisle, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: as a poignant reminder and permanent testament to the sacrifice made by over 10,000 men of the Border Regiment, the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry Cavalry, and the Cumberland Artillery, who died during the First World War, as well as those that lost their lives during the Second World War and subsequent conflicts;

* Architectural interest: an elegant and dignified monument formed of an imposing granite cenotaph with a tapering shaft enriched with foliage carving and set on a broad raised platform;

* Architect: as a memorial by the distinguished architect Sir Robert Lorimer who designed the Scottish National War Memorial, three great naval memorials to the missing at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth (all Grade I listed), and carried out work internationally for the Imperial War Graves Commission;

* Landscape context: a particularly evocative memorial in the picturesque surroundings of a c1835 landscaped park, transformed into a ‘living’ war memorial park in 1920-22 with the cenotaph at the centre; there can be scarcely few war memorials in finer surroundings;

* Materials: a substantial and well-crafted cenotaph in local Shap granite with bronze plaques and a cast-iron railed enclosure;

* Group value: with Rickerby Park, a c1835 landscaped park transformed into a war memorial park in 1920-22.

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