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Cenotaph, Southampton

Description: Cenotaph

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 8 October 1981
English Heritage Building ID: 135957

OS Grid Reference: SU4191312412
OS Grid Coordinates: 441913, 112412
Latitude/Longitude: 50.9097, -1.4052

Location: Above Bar Street, Southampton SO15 2BG

Locality: Southampton
County: Southampton
Country: England
Postcode: SO15 2BG

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Listing Text

983/1/260 WATTS PARK


A cenotaph of Portland stone designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), erected in Watts (West) Park in 1919, in memory of Southampton's World War I Fallen.

The cenotaph is in the form of a five-tier tapering stone pylon to a platform topped with a stone sarcophagus, on which is draped a recumbent effigy of a dead soldier. Flanking it to the west is a stone of remembrance and to the north and south flush with the eastern face, two shorter single-tier pillars surmounted by fir cones (symbols of eternity); the latter being joined to the pylon by a seat and a wall.

The pedestal of the cenotaph has recessed panels on the north and south, where the 1793 names of the fallen are inscribed. The supplemental roll of honour added in 1921 (203 names) and 1922 (one name) is inscribed at the shoulder of the pylon, below the recessed panels that contain the original list. In addition to the names of the fallen, the simple phrase 'Our Glorious Dead' is inscribed on the lower tier of the eastern (front) face of the central pylon and 'Their name liveth for evermore' into the west face of the stone of remembrance.

The central pylon contains a wealth of sculptural depictions; the eastern (front) face of the central pylon has a cross of sacrifice; the eastern and western faces, of the third tier bear the coat-of-arms of Southampton; lions are mounted on the north and south shoulders of the fourth tier; and on the fifth tier, just below the sarcophagus, are the sculptured wreaths enclosing the emblems of the army, navy, merchant marine and air forces.

The entirety of the monument is mounted on a platform of five stone steps, with the stone of remembrance raised on a further two steps.

Shortly after the World War I armistice a public meeting was held in Southampton and a resolution was passed that 'this meeting resolves to provide in Southampton a memorial to perpetuate the memory of those who had fallen in the Great War'. A committee was formed, to which the Lord Mayor, Alderman Sidney G Kimber, was elected both Chairman and Honorary Treasurer, and decided that 'the people of Southampton would like to point to some really fine outstanding memorial in the best position of the town, always to remind them of the sacrifices made for them and others'. One of its members, a local architect, Alfred Gutteridge, recommended Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) as a potential designer and, on 22nd January 1919, the architect met Kimber, Gutteridge and others to discuss the matter.

Lutyens' designs were much sought after; his knighthood in the New Year honours in 1918 was partly, in addition to his work in New Delhi, as a result of his unpaid advice to the Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission). He was one of the three principal architects appointed by the Commission, being justly acclaimed for the prodigious output of more than 50 war memorials projects.

Lutyens rejected the initial site (on Asylum Green) that his clients had chosen and suggested Watts (West) Park instead. However, his first design for a War Stone flanked by a pair of arches, at the east and west entrances to Watts Park, each topped by a recumbent figure resting on a pier was rejected by the committee because of its perceived cost (the architect had been given a budget of £10,000). In its place, Lutyens retained the upper part of the arch that contained the figure, but set it on a tall modelled pillar. He kept the War Stone and, in nod to his proposal for the temporary war shrine, he included two smaller columns topped by pine cones.

The new design was approved at a public meeting on 12th September 1919 and, with drawings that could now be shown to the public, fundraising began. Tenders were invited for the building work and, on 16th December 1919, a bid of £8,500 was accepted from Messrs Holloway Bros of Westminster. Building work commenced and the memorial was completed for its unveiling on 6th November 1920 by Major General JEB ('Galloping Jack') Seely, Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, whilst the Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Edward Stuart, undertook the dedication. The unveiling, at which Lutyens was present, was a two-stage affair, which Seely began by pulling a cord that allowed a light canvas-covered structure that encased the memorial to fall away. He then addressed the crowd and released the Union Flag that covered the figure atop the memorial. The ceremony concluded with the Last Post, two minutes' silence, the Lord's Prayer and the national Anthem, before Kimber, on behalf of the subscribers, formally handed over the memorial to the Council. It was described in the pamphlet produced for the dedication ceremony as 'The Great War Stone of Remembrance, a monolith, an altar in form, identical to those which lie in each of our War Cemeteries throughout the War area, with the words chosen by Mr. Rudyard Kipling - "Their name liveth for evermore" - cut on its west face. Behind this stone, on a plinth, standing on a platform of steps, rises a great pylon'.

The pamphlet for the dedication ceremony claimed there to be 1,800 names of the men of Southampton who died in the war, however, there were actually 1,793 and included a number of women who had worked in the Merchant Navy or with the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. A total of £9,485-17-3 had been raised which, after the deduction of costs, left a balance of £101-18-11 that was donated to the Hampshire County and Isle of Wight War Memorial Fund.

In the months following the dedication a number of families came forward asking that their loved ones also be included, but their requests were initially refused, being told that is was not possible to add any further names. Mrs Hayball, the mother of an unlisted fallen soldier, then contacted Norton Catchpole, Secretary of the Hants Division of the 'Comrades of the Great War', who took up the case and advertised in the Echo for more families to come forward. By 26th April 1921 Catchpole had a list of a further 148 names, which he sent to Kimber who headed the War Memorial Committee. As a result of Catchpole's letters in the 'Echo' he had contacted by PF Morant, of Morant Bros stonemasons, Southampton. Morant offered to cut the extra names free of charge, on the understanding that it would be done anonymously. He did not want a 'cheap advertisement' and wrote to Catchpole that 'I am offering to do this as I am an ex-service man myself and thankful my own name hasn't to go on there'. Despite this offer, when the decision was taken to add the missing names, by then standing at 203, Garret and Haysom were commissioned. Their invoice for £26-16-0 showing that the work was completed by 15th November 1921. This was not quite the final act and, in February 1922, Garret and Haysom were hired again to add the 1,997th and final name, William Henry Thomas Deem. The addition of names of the fallen from World War II was proposed in 1995, but was not undertaken.

Boorman, Derek, 1988. At the Going Down of the Sun: British First World War Memorials. William session Ltd: York
Corke, Jim, 2005. War Memorials in Britain. Shire Publications Ltd: Princes Risborough
Everill, Paul, 2008. The Southampton Cenotaph 'Roll of Honour'. Unpublished report by Southampton City Council Archaeology Unit. February 2008
Skelton, Tim & Gliddon Gerald, 2008. Lutyens and the Great War. Frances Lincoln Ltd: London

The cenotaph in Watts Park is Southampton listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* the design is notable for the wealth of carved decoration in comparison to the austerity of cenotaphs that were to follow;
* as a memorial which contains approximately 2000 names, Southampton cenotaph has great significance in illustrating the experience and sacrifice of one British city in World War I.
* it was the first, more elaborate design of a template, by Sir Edwin Lutyens in England, which was to be adopted across the nation for its war memorials, including the Whitehall cenotaph (Grade I), which is the national focus for Remembrance Day services every Armistice Day.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.