War memorials are a familiar sight in the landscape of the United Kingdom. They provide insight into not only the changing face of commemoration but also military history, social history and art history.
The concept of commemorating war dead did not develop to any great extent until the end of the 19th Century. Memorials before this date were rare and were mainly dedicated to individual officers, or sometimes regiments.
The first large-scale erection of war memorials dedicated to the ordinary soldier followed the Second Boer War of 1899-1902. This was the first major war to take place after reforms to the British Army led to the recruitment of regiments from local communities. However, it was the aftermath of the First World War that was the great age of memorial building, 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.
Find out more about Leicester War Memorials:
Bridge Road School
St George's Church
Leicestershire County Council are compiling an index for all war memorials in Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, and already over 1,800 war memorials and gravestones have been recorded. The County Council are also recording information about the people who are commemorated on the war memorials, and are including photographs, documents, and biographical information wherever possible. Go to the County War Memorials pages for further information.
The UK National Inventory of War Memorials (UKNIWM) is based at the Imperial War Museum and is working to compile a record of all war memorials in the UK and to promote their appreciation, use and preservation. For further information, including a facility to search for all United Kingdom war memorials, go to the UKNIWM website.
War Memorials in Leicester:
The Memorial is situated on the former site of Bridge Road School, Bridge Road, Leicester, on land which is now set out as memorial gardens.
The memorial was designed by George Mawbey, and was unveiled on 4 September 1920. It takes the form of a part-painted limestone slab, slightly battered, on a three-tiered limestone base. On the face towards the road is, near the top, a relief panel (somewhat in the style of Eric Gill) showing three naked figures, one lying dead and the other two kneeling over him. One of the kneeling boys holds a laurel wreath over the recumbent figure. Below the relief panel are two long name panels, placed side by side.
The inscription reads:
"IN GLORIOUS MEMORY OF OLD BOYS OF BRIDGE ROAD SCHOOL WHO DIED IN THE GREAT WAR". Beneath this, two slate panels engraved with the names of the 133 old boys who died in World War 1. Then engraved on the front face of the base: "At the going down of the Sun and in the morning / We will remember them."
The memorial was listed (grade II) on 3 September 2000 (English Heritage reference 1389412).
This memorial stands at the north-east corner of Evington Village Green.
It was designed by Stockdale Harrison and Sons Ltd, and was unveiled on 25 July 1920. The memorial is a column surmounted by an orb crowned with a small metal cross. A third of the way up the column is an oval crest with laurel leaves carved around a blank oval centre. Supporting the column is a pedestal bearing the slate plaques. Five steps lead up to the pedestal. The memorial is not listed (2014).
The inscriptions on Swithland slate plaques read:
Front: THE LAND UPON WHICH THIS MEMORIAL STANDS KNOWN BY THE NAME OF KINGS ORCHARD WAS GIVEN TO EVINGTON BY JOHN EDWARD FAIRE ESQ. J.P. OF EVINGTON HALL AS A THANKSGIVING TO GOD FOR VICTORY AND PEACE. AUGUST 23rd 1919
Rear: In Thankfulness to Almighty God this Monument was erected by The Parishioners of Evington and in undying memory of [then follow the names of the dead] Men of Evington who Gave their lives in the Great War 1914 - 1918 - plaques left and right both headed: 1939 - 1945 [followed by names of dead]
This war memorial is located in St George's Churchyard in the city centre, facing Church Street. The memorial was listed (grade II) in August 2013 (English Heritage reference 1415471).
The memorial is dedicated to the fallen from the parish of St George and was dedicated by the Reverend Noel Mellish in 1921. It was built at a cost of £490 by the stonemasons W Thrall & Son to the design of William Douglas Caröe (1857-1938).
William Caröe had been responsible for rebuilding the nave at St George’s Church after it was damaged by fire in 1911. He was a pioneer of building conservation, and had been appointed Senior Architect to the Church Commissioners in 1895. Caröe restored many churches and he designed both domestic and commercial buildings, many of which are listed, such as the Offices of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Church Estates in Millbank, London (Grade II-star).
The memorial comprises a wooden crucifix resting on a hexagonal stone plinth, with a moulded cornice and base, and alternating recessed sides with moulded segmental arches. This rests on a tall hexagonal five-stepped stone base, the south side of which bears a square stone tablet engraved with the inscription:
'DEDICATED BY THE RV NOEL MELLISH VC WITH PRAYER AND THANKSGIVING FOR THOSE WHO FROM THIS CHURCH AND PARISH OF S GEORGE THE SOLDIER MARTYR LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR: 1914 1918 / LORD ALL PITYING JESU BLEST GRANT THEM THINE ETERNAL REST' followed by the names of the fallen.
The major war memorial within Victoria Park is a large square monumental arch designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, which was completed in 1924.
Peace Walk provides a formally laid out approach to the Memorial and features vibrant flower displays. There are several memorials along Peace Walk (between the Lutyens memorial and University Road). Memorials in this section of the park recognise the role of women in the Second World War, a cherry tree planted by survivors of the nuclear bombings at Hiroshima, a British Nuclear Tests Veterans Association memorial and a Spanish Civil War memorial. Also within Victoria Park is a memorial to the US 82nd Airborne Division recognising their sacrifices during the Second World War.
In 2011, the International Troops War Memorial was unveiled, to acknowledge the sacrifice made by Leicester and international troops.