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Hitchin War Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Hitchin, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9478 / 51°56'52"N

Longitude: -0.2779 / 0°16'40"W

OS Eastings: 518454

OS Northings: 229099

OS Grid: TL184290

Mapcode National: GBR H5W.VZ2

Mapcode Global: VHGNS.49FN

Plus Code: 9C3XWPXC+4R

Entry Name: Hitchin War Memorial

Listing Date: 11 July 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1448128

Location: Hitchin Highbury, North Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire, SG5

County: Hertfordshire

District: North Hertfordshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Hitchin Highbury

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Hitchin

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Tagged with: War memorial

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First World War memorial by Walter Millard. Erected in 1922. Additional names added after 1945.


First World War memorial by Walter Millard. Erected in 1922. Additional names added after 1945.

MATERIALS: carved from Portland stone.

DESCRIPTION: the Hitchin war memorial stands in front of St Mary’s Church and occupies ground taken out of the south-west corner of the churchyard. Built of Portland stone, the memorial comprises a cross on raised base, set in front of a battlemented screen. The wheel-headed cross stands on a tall octagonal shaft placed upon an octagonal base, on the front of which is a shield with the cross of St George; it has a crenellated moulding to the top. This stands on a taller octagonal plinth with a projecting moulding to the top. On the front of the frieze is an inscription in raised capitals: TO THE UNCONQUERED DEAD 1914 1919. Around each face of the base are added Portland stone panels: seven of them list single columns of names, while the front (south-west) panel has a relief of a wreath of poppies above the inscription WE WILL REMEMBER THEM: these list the dead of the Second World War, with a reference to ALL OTHER SERVICEMEN KILLED IN ACTION at the end of the names. The whole stands on a two-stage lower base. The cross stands within an enclosure, the front of which is screened by a low wrought iron gate and railings. The sides and rear of the enclosure comprise a five-sided Portland stone battlemented screen with square piers to either side. Set within this are eleven panels, each with a single column of names: these were the dead of the First World War.


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 raised at Hitchin, as permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War. The memorial commemorates 356 Hitchin residents who fell in the Great War, and was adapted to honour the 162 fatalities of the Second World War. It was unveiled by Viscount Hampden on 6 August 1922. Hampden, Lord Lieutenant of the county 1915-52, commanded the 1st Battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment, and had served as a Brigadier-General in the Army. It cost £1675/5/10, and was built by the Peterborough firm of John Thompson & Sons. Its designer, Walter John Nash Millard FRIBA (1854-1936), trained with two distinguished Gothic Revival designers, William Burges and George Edmund Street and later set up an architectural practice with Frank Baggallay in 1883. Resident in Hitchin from 1893 to 1921, he was known for his architectural sketches and was an early encourager of the Hitchin artist Frederick Griggs. Millard also carried out some work at St Mary’s Church.

The site selected, in the centre of the town at the north-west corner of the churchyard, was formerly marked by gate piers facing south towards the Market Place. The memorial stands on ground taken out of the churchyard in order that all religious groups could share in the dedication.

The base of the cross was altered after 1945 in order that the Second World War names could be incorporated; the railings are not shown on a 1934 photograph, suggesting they too were added after 1945. Further revisions took place in c.1988, including the insertion of a new central panel with poppy wreath.

Reasons for Listing

Hitchin War Memorial, erected in 1922 by Walter Millard, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: the memorial is an eloquent reminder of the tragic impact of world events on this town, and bears witness to the impact on its population. The addition of names from the Second World War and other slight changes add to its interest;

* Design interest: the memorial is a subtle, eclectic design with medieval, classical and free style elements and was the work of a respected architect;

* Group value: the memorial has a very strong visual relationship with the Grade I-listed church behind, and is surrounded by a number of other listed buildings.

External Links

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