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Exton War Memorial Cross and Tablet

A Grade II Listed Building in Exton, Rutland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.6905 / 52°41'25"N

Longitude: -0.634 / 0°38'2"W

OS Eastings: 492421

OS Northings: 311192

OS Grid: SK924111

Mapcode National: GBR DSV.8J0

Mapcode Global: WHGLN.7MBQ

Entry Name: Exton War Memorial Cross and Tablet

Listing Date: 4 April 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1454802

Location: Exton and Horn, Rutland, LE15

County: Rutland

Civil Parish: Exton and Horn

Built-Up Area: Exton

Traditional County: Rutland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Rutland

Summary


First World War memorial cross and tablet, unveiled 4 October 1922.

Description

First World War memorial cross and tablet, 1922.

MATERIALS: memorial cross: Clipsham stone; metal sculpture (replacing bronze original). Memorial tablet: Clipsham stone; Hopton wood stone.

DESCRIPTION: The Exton war memorial cross and tablet are located in a memorial garden along Oakham Road at the point where it adjoins The Green. The tablet is set into the former boundary wall of the Grade II-registered Exton Park (the wall now borders the approach to the village hall), and both memorials are in close proximity to the Grade II-listed buildings the Old School House and the Fox and Hounds Hotel and Stables.

The memorial cross is of Clipsham stone and takes the form of a Calvary cross; to the south-east face is a metal sculpture of the Crucifixion beneath a stone canopy. A small bronze plate bearing the monogram INRI is affixed above the sculpture to the vertical cross arm. The cross crowns an octagonal shaft with moulded collar and terminates in a square foot with inverted chamfered stops. The shaft rises from a square plinth with moulded upper corners, surmounting a two-stepped base; the upper step is square while the lower step is octagonal. The whole stands on an octagonal stone platform with a flat stone cap; the platform accommodates a prayer step to the south-east face.

The plinth bears the inscriptions in relief-carved lettering. The principal inscription starts on the south-east face, and reads IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST/ AMEN/ CHARLES 3RD EARL OF GAINSBOROUGH/ AND MARY HIS WIFE SET UP THIS CROSS/ AND THE TABLET NEARBY IN MEMORY OF/ THEIR BELOVED SON ROBERT THEIR NEPHEWS/ ROGER AND MAURICE AND OTHERS THEIR. The inscription continues of the north-east face and reads FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS IN EXTON/ AND WHITWELL WHO DIED FOR KING AND/ COUNTRY IN THE GREAT WAR 1914 - 1918/ ON WHOSE SOULS SWEET JESUS HAVE MERCY.

The remaining two faces carry the dedications to the members of the Noel family. That to the north-west face reads TOM CECIL NOEL M.C. AND BAR, LIEUT/ ROYAL AIR FORCE, SON OF GERALD CECIL/ NOEL OF COTTESMORE, REPORTED MISSING/ AT WESTROOZEBEKE, FLANDERS, IN THE/ GREAT WAR AUG 22ND. 1918. That to the south-west face reads MAURICE JAMES DEASE V.C. LIEUT./ ROYAL FUSILIERS. AGED 24/ MONS 23RD. AUG. 1914/ ROGER CHARLES NOEL BELLINGHAM LIEUT/ ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY AGED 31/ YPRES 4TH. MARCH 1915./ HONBLE ROBERT E. T. M. NOEL, CAPT/ NIGERIAN ARMY. AGED 29/ MASASI, EAST AFRICA, 2ND. FEB. 1918/ REQUIESCANT IN PACE.

The memorial tablet is situated to the north-east of the memorial cross, set within the former boundary wall to Exton Park (which now borders the approach to the village hall). The wall has been raised above the tablet. The tablet has a Clipsham stone moulded frame, with an inset fielded panel of Hopton Wood stone to the centre. Carved in relief lettering above the panel and beneath a moulded cornice are the words IN MEMORY OF THE GREAT WAR 1914 – 18. The panel below contains the names of the servicemen who died, also in relief carved lettering, and reads EXTON/ (15 NAMES)/ WHITWELL/ (4 NAMES)/ MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.

History

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.

Two such memorials were raised at Exton by Charles Noel, the third Earl of Gainsborough, and his wife Mary Elizabeth Dease, as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by members of their family, including their son and two nephews, who lost their lives in the First World War. The memorials also commemorate the 19 servicemen from the local communities of Exton and Whitwell who died in the conflict. Of the 118 Exton men who served 15 died, while from the 16 Whitwell men who had served four died.

The site for the memorials was donated by the Earl of Gainsborough; the memorial garden was laid out by Mr B J Bunbury, estate agent to Exton Hall, and Mr C Clifton, the estate’s head gardener, under the direction of the Gainsborough family. A door from the estate led directly to the memorial (this has since been removed and the wall filled in). The memorials were designed by architect Alfred Young Nutt, of Windsor and were erected by Mr Draycott, monumental mason of Oakham. The bronze figure of Christ attached to the memorial cross was said to be modelled on one from the Madeleine Church in Paris known as ‘The Madeleine Christus’.

The memorials were unveiled on 4 October 1922, by Viscount Campden, eldest son of Lord Gainsborough, who stood in for Brigadier-General Sir Edward Bellingham, Lady Gainsborough's brother. It was dedicated by the Right Reverend Thomas Dunn, Bishop of Nottingham. Among those commemorated was Lieutenant Maurice James Dease, who was one of the first to be awarded a Victoria Cross during the First World War.

In 1995 the bronze figure of Christ was severely damaged by vandals and replaced by a replica in modern materials. The damaged original was removed into the parish church.

Alfred Young Nutt, MVO, ISO, (1847-1924) was born and educated in Leicestershire. After training to be an architect he entered the Office of Works at Windsor Castle and subsequently held the position of Surveyor to the Dean and Canons of Windsor. Much of this work involved routine maintenance of St George's Chapel. In 1901 he became Clerk of Works of Windsor Castle also holding the post of Chapel Surveyor until his retirement in 1912. He restored the Grade II*-listed Church of St John the Evangelist in Little Leighs, Essex, and built the Grade II-listed Church of St John and St Mary Magdalene in Goldthorpe, Yorkshire. Nutt also designed a number of war memorials including the Grade II-listed Slough Town War Memorial.

Reasons for Listing

Exton war memorial cross and tablet, which are situated in the memorial garden off Oakham Road at the junction with The Green, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:

* as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community and families, and the sacrifice they made in the First World War. The cross and tablet as a group articulate the shared grief across communities that saw unprecedented numbers of war memorials being erected across the country.

Architectural interest:

* an elegant Calvary cross memorial accompanied by a well-executed memorial tablet;

* designed by noted architect Alfred Young Nutt, who held the post of Clerk of Works at Windsor Castle;

* the memorial cross incorporates a ‘prayer step’, an uncommon feature on a war memorial.

Group value:

* with the Grade II-registered Exton Park and both memorials are in close proximity to the Grade II-listed buildings the Old School House and the Fox and Hounds Hotel and Stables.

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