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Ecton War Memorial Shrine

A Grade II Listed Building in Ecton, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.2655 / 52°15'55"N

Longitude: -0.7892 / 0°47'20"W

OS Eastings: 482730

OS Northings: 263732

OS Grid: SP827637

Mapcode National: GBR CXB.Z62

Mapcode Global: VHDS1.8BN2

Entry Name: Ecton War Memorial Shrine

Listing Date: 6 November 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1450227

Location: Ecton, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, NN6

County: Northamptonshire

District: Wellingborough

Civil Parish: Ecton

Built-Up Area: Ecton

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire


First World War memorial shrine erected in 1917, with later additions for the Second World War.


First World War memorial shrine erected in 1917, with later additions for the Second World War.

DESCRIPTION: the war memorial shrine stands where several roads meet in the village, at the south end of Northampton Road. To the south of the memorial is the Grade II-listed Old Post Office.

It is of ironstone ashlar and takes the form of a shrine with a gabled tile roof and plain timber cross projecting from the apex. The entrance to the shrine is to the south side and has decorative iron gates, the remaining sides of the shrine are enclosed. The four corners of the shrine's exterior take the form of squared columns. The east and west walls are each pierced by three lancet windows, whilst the north side is one smooth wall.

On the rear wall inside is the wooden figure of Christ crucified. Inscribed on the base of the cross is REST ETERNAL/ GRANT THEM O LORD. AND LET/ LIGHT PERPETUAL SHINE ON THEM. Either side of the figure are wooden tablets inscribed with ROLL OF HONOUR. Each tablet bears nine names in gold coloured painted lettering.

A further dedicatory inscription is carved on the woodwork of the roof. On the main truss above the entrance is 1917 ECTON NOT UNMINDFUL. The inscription is continued on the roof timbers within reading OF YOUR CHARITY PRAY FOR THE SOULS OF/ THESE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR YOU. A tablet on the left-hand wall records the village’s donation to Northampton General Hospital's war memorial appeal following the Second World War.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the shrine is approached from the road by six steps, with ramped flanking walls running to either side defining the front of the shrine’s enclosure.


The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials erected across England. 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. However, this trend had its roots not in the wake of the war but in the midst of the conflict.

As the war progressed and the number of casualties increased memorials were already being built to remember the dead and those still serving on the battlefields abroad. These took the form of private memorials to family members but also a growing number were being erected by, or on behalf of, local communities. The earliest known example of a community memorial is thought to be the War Memorial in Rawtenstall Cemetery, Lancashire (Grade II). Erected in September 1915 at the instigation of Councillor Carrie Whitehead, the intention is clearly inscribed on the memorial for it to act as “some comfort to those who lost men very dear to them.” Another form of early First World War community memorial was the street shrine. This practice originated in the East End of London, but was soon adopted in other towns to commemorate those from a particular street. In some instances these shrines also included relatives from other streets, while some covered whole districts. Surviving examples include those in Eton Street (erected October 1916) and Sharp Street (erected May 1917) in Kingston upon Hull. The erection of memorials in the midst of the conflict was considered controversial by some but by 1917 the desire among communities for some form of commemoration was clear.

The shrine in Ecton is an example of one such memorial erected before the end of the First World War as a permanent testament to the on-going sacrifice being made by members of the local community during the conflict. It was erected in 1917 and was paid for by Mrs Edith Sotheby, the widow of Major-General Frederick Edward Sotheby of Ecton Hall. The first name on the west side roll of honour is that of her son, Lionel Frederick Southwell Sotherby (died 1915) and the shrine may have originally been to his memory before becoming a wider village war memorial.

Reasons for Listing

Ecton's War Memorial Shrine, at the south end of Northampton Road, is listed at Grade II for the following reasons:

Historic interest:

* as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice it made in the conflicts of the C20;
* as an example of an early First World war memorial which was erected before the end of the conflict.

Architectural interest:

* an elegant and carefully constructed shrine reflecting, in its use of materials, the style of surrounding buildings.

Group value:

* with the nearby Grade II-listed The Old Post Office.

Other nearby listed buildings

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