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Watlington War Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Watlington, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.674 / 52°40'26"N

Longitude: 0.396 / 0°23'45"E

OS Eastings: 562095

OS Northings: 311172

OS Grid: TF620111

Mapcode National: GBR N4P.BYC

Mapcode Global: WHJPM.11VV

Entry Name: Watlington War Memorial

Listing Date: 11 July 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1457162

Location: Watlington, King's Lynn and West Norfolk, Norfolk, PE33

County: Norfolk

District: King's Lynn and West Norfolk

Civil Parish: Watlington

Built-Up Area: Watlington

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk


First World War memorial cross designed by Sir Ninian Comper, unveiled 1919, with Second World War additions.


The Portland stone war memorial is located in the churchyard of the Church of St Peter and St Paul (Grade I-listed). It is prominently situated to the left of the path leading to the church from the road. It comprises a Latin cross-head rising from the collar of a tall and slender cross shaft. The collar is ornamented to front and rear with a monogrammed shield. The cross-shaft, octagonal in section, stands on a pedestal. The pedestal, square on plan at the base, has an octagonal drum-like upper surface and the four corners are shouldered. The pedestal stands on a two-stepped base, square on plan. The plinth and uppermost step of the base bear the inscriptions in incised lettering.

The principal dedicatory inscriptions to the front face of the pedestal reads IN MEMORY OF THE MEN/ WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN/ THE GREAT WAR 1914 – 1918/ AND OF/ 1939 – 1945. Commemorated names are recorded on the other faces of the pedestal and on the front riser of the upper step of the base.


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.

One such memorial was raised at Watlington as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by 14 members of the local community who died in the First World War. Designed by Sir Ninian Comper and erected by Mr J Case of Kings Lynn, the memorial was unveiled on 1 November 1919. Following the Second World War the names of four men who died in that conflict were added to the memorial.

The memorial was re-lettered in 1998, funded by the Parish Council, and conserved in 2014.

The architect Sir John Ninian Comper (1864-1960) attended Ruskin’s School at Oxford before working as assistant to CE Kempe, the glass painter and church craftsman. He was articled to church architects Bodley and Garner in 1883. Comper became renowned for the virtuosity of his designs for church fixtures, fittings, furnishings and stained glass. Before around 1904 he based his work on C14 Gothic, but following a trip to the Mediterranean he developed a more eclectic style which synthesized many decorative and architectural styles. Comper was knighted in 1950. He was responsible for the design of numerous war memorials including the Welsh National War Memorial (Grade II*), the Warriors' Chapel at Westminster Abbey (1925), and the memorial crosses at St Laurence’s Church, Long Eaton; St Margaret’s Church, Tintinhull; St Mary's Church, Ketton; and St Andrew’s Church, Hertford (all listed Grade II).

Reasons for Listing

Watlington War Memorial Cross, which stands in the churchyard, is 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 the sacrifice it made in the conflicts of the C20.

Architectural interest:

* an elegant stone memorial cross, in Portland stone, designed by Sir Ninian Comper.

Group value:

* with the Church of St Peter and St Paul (Grade I-listed).

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