History in Structure

Great Dunmow War Memorial

A Grade II* Listed Building in Great Dunmow, Essex

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Latitude: 51.8711 / 51°52'15"N

Longitude: 0.3637 / 0°21'49"E

OS Eastings: 562825

OS Northings: 221809

OS Grid: TL628218

Mapcode National: GBR NGB.NRF

Mapcode Global: VHJJF.874G

Plus Code: 9F32V9C7+CF

Entry Name: Great Dunmow War Memorial

Listing Date: 14 October 2016

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1438524

ID on this website: 101438524

Location: Great Dunmow, Uttlesford, Essex, CM6

County: Essex

District: Uttlesford

Civil Parish: Great Dunmow

Built-Up Area: Great Dunmow

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Great Dunmow St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

Tagged with: War memorial

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First World War memorial, 1921, designed by Basil Oliver, George Clausen and the Great Dunmow War Memorial Committee, and built by Holloway Brothers (London) Ltd, with lettering designed and partly executed by Eric Gill, mainly executed by Joseph Cribb.


MATERIALS: Portland stone pillar, Cornish granite base.

DESCRIPTION: Great Dunmow War Memorial consists of a 6m tapering, three-sided, Portland stone pillar with Latin crosses carved in relief around the head underneath three projecting arches and above a narrow collar. This is set on a two-stepped moulded and chamfered plinth atop a three-stepped base, the lowest step being of granite.

The pillar has a chamfered triangular section with slightly concave faces to suit the memorial’s location, facing three streets (except at the plinth, where the faces are flat). The base consists of three steps. The top two are hexagonal and the lowest step is circular, with a diameter of 3.2m.

The principal inscription on one of the faces of the plinth reads: REMEMBER/ THE MEN OF THIS/ PLACE WHO DIED FOR/ FREEDOM AND HONOUR/ A 1914 – 1918
D/ A 1939 – 1945 D.

84 First World War names are carved onto the three concave faces of the pillar above, in cut uncoloured upper case lettering. 25 Second World War names were added to the remaining two faces of the plinth.


Great Dunmow Parish Council minutes record that the first meeting called to discuss the possibility of having a war memorial took place on 17 April 1918. A committee of 25 was appointed, and held its first meeting on 3 October 1918. Initial proposals included a memorial institute, a library, reading room, a cottage hospital, a social club, a public hall and a monument. From the outset, Dunmow was resolved to honour the sacrifice of those who had died by having a ‘utilitarian’ memorial of social benefit. Fundraising began early for a stone monument that would cost in the region of £1,000 and be sited in a prominent place.

The Dunmow committee contacted the Civic Arts Association, which was offering free advice to local war memorial committees. In particular, it requested guidance about a location for the memorial, sending options with photographs. George Clausen, RA, met the committee and made recommendations. The Civic Arts Association furthermore recommended the services of Basil Oliver as an architect with appropriate local knowledge. It was announced in August 1920 that Oliver had been appointed as the architect. He, along with Clausen and the war memorial committee, worked together on the design and produced models. The New Street/High Street junction site had been settled on by October 1920.

Tenders were sought from the local monumental mason and from three London firms. The tender from Holloway Brothers (London) Ltd., was lowest and was accepted, for around £800 (already raised by public subscription). Preparations were underway on site by March 1921.

The inscription to the 84 men being commemorated was to be designed by Eric Gill. Holloway Brothers' work in preparing the stone for lettering was also overseen by Gill. Gill had argued that Portland stone should have been used instead of the Doulting that Oliver had chosen, because it was a better material for letter cutting. The execution of the lettering was carried out mainly by Gill’s apprentice, Joseph Cribb. Gill himself did cut some of the letters, and touched up the whole before the unveiling. Although it was originally conceived that the inscription should be small and high, it was decided probably in early 1921 to enlarge and give it priority over having any decoration in the design, so that the lettering, and words, would become the focus.

The final cost was reported at c £760 in coverage of the unveiling ceremony. Public donations had already reached £1,075, so the balance was to be diverted to the memorial social club, one of the original memorial ideas.

The unveiling ceremony took place on 17 July 1921. General Lord Byng, a former resident of Dunmow, was invited to unveil the memorial, and it was dedicated by the Bishop of Chelmsford. A deed was read out that conveyed the memorial to the Parish Council.

On the same day, a memorial was unveiled inside the parish church. This carried identical names and was executed by local memorial mason, Mr K Smith of Dunmow Monumental Works.

25 Second World War names were added at a later date. They were drawn and cut by Joseph Cribb and match the original.

In 2011, War Memorials Trust gave a grant of £1,460 for specialist cleaning, repointing, and hand re-cutting of the inscription.

Basil Oliver (1882-1948) ARIBA, FSA trained at the Liverpool University School of Architecture from 1900-02 and, afterwards, at the Architectural Association and Royal Academy Schools. He was articled to Edward Prioleau Warren and assisted in the Holloway Brothers (London) Limited offices until 1905 and the offices of Arthur Blomfield & Sons until 1906. He returned to Warren until setting up his own practice in 1910. He designed buildings across East Anglia, including the Rose & Crown in Cambridge (1928) and the Borough Offices, Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds (1935–7). He also designed the Great Dunmow war memorial (1921). He published regularly, his work including Old Houses and Village Buildings in East Anglia (1912) and The Renaissance of the English Public House (1947).

Sir George Clausen (1852-1944) RA was a painter born in London, whose Danish father had been an interior decorator. He got a scholarship for the National Art Training Schools in South Kensington and followed this with a study trip to Antwerp and Paris in the 1870s. He married and moved to Hertfordshire in 1881. He lectured at the Royal Academy Schools between 1904-13, and was an official war artist between 1914-18. In 1925 he was asked to work on a mural scheme for St Stephen’s Hall at the Palace of Westminster. He volunteered for the Civic Arts Association’s war memorials committee, helping to design, and making cardboard models for, the Great Dunmow war memorial in 1920-21.

Eric Gill (1882-1940) ARA RDI ARBS Hon ARIBA LLD 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 those at Bisham, Briantspuddle, Chirk, Leeds University, South Harting and Trumpington. 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.

Reasons for Listing

Great Dunmow War Memorial, situated at the junction of New Street and High Street, 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: by the nationally renowned sculptor, Eric Gill. It is an unusual design with a three-sided, tapering pillar, with crosses at the head, all executed in Portland stone;
* Sculptural interest: as a proficient and subtle piece of work produced by a close collaboration between stonemasons and sculptors, incorporating fine lettering designed by Eric Gill, mainly executed by Joseph Cribb (who returned to carve the Second World War names later);
* Historic association: as a feature of Leonard Pomeroy’s influential article in the Town Planning Review in 1922 in which he uses the production of Great Dunmow war memorial as an exemplar of the Civic Arts Association’s approach to collaboration between architects, stonemasons and sculptors;
* Group value: with Grade II listed buildings and structures on the High Street and New Street.

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