War memorial, First and Second World Wars, with additional inscription (2003) for those who served and died in wars and conflicts after 1945.
Reason for Listing
Huntingdon war memorial, erected in 1923, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historical interest: it is a moving reminder of the impact on the community not only of two World Wars but of subsequent conflicts,.
* Design: the design of the memorial is extremely unusual, a moving representation of a soldier deep in thought, executed by the reputable sculptor Kathleen Scott, widow of Captain Robert Falcon Scott of the Antarctic, who has a listed piece to her name.
* Group value: the memorial occupies a prominent position in the centre of Market Hill, where it is surrounded on all four sides by listed buildings, including the Grade I listed Church of all Saints to the north-west, and the Town Hall to the south-east, listed at Grade II*.
After the end of the First World War, Huntingdon Town Council considered that a new Public Hall would be an appropriate commemoration, and a War Memorial Hall Committee was formed in late 1919. The Women's Institute (WI) began to raise money for the scheme, refunded when the idea for a hall was abandoned and reinvested in a dedicated war memorial account. Subsequent proposals considered by the Council met with little enthusiasm, but the WI persisted, eventually deciding to use the money to erect a war memorial in the town, commissioning the sculptor, Kathleen Scott, widow of the Antarctic explorer, Captain Scott, for the purpose. This contact was apparently made through her friend, Lady Sandwich of Hinchingbrooke House, President of Huntingdon WI, while Lord Sandwich negotiated with the Town Council for a site on Market Hill. The Council raised further funds for the cost of the base, and the memorial, erected by Thackray and Co of Huntingdon, was unveiled by Lord Sandwich on Armistice Day 1923, attracting a crowd of about 3000 people. In 1946 the WI approved an inscription commemorating those who died in World War II and in 2003 a commemorative panel for those who have served and died in subsequent wars and conflicts was added.
In 2001 the statue was removed from the plinth and restored, while the plinth, discoloured by leaching from the metal of the statue, was replaced.
Kathleen Scott (1878-1947) was born Agnes Kathleen Bruce in Nottinghamshire, and attended the Slade School of Art. In 1908 she married Captain Robert Falcon Scott, and was widowed in 1912. In 1922 she married Edward Hilton Young, becoming Baroness Kennet when he was granted a baronetcy in 1935.
War memorial, First and Second World Wars, with additional inscription for wars and conflicts post-1945; erected 1923; sculptor Kathleen Scott; statue cast in bronze on a base of Weldon stone, with a Portland stone panel inscribed by Mr A Easton.
The memorial, recorded as the Thinking Soldier in the UK Inventory of War Memorials, consists of a life size statue of a soldier, partly seated, partly leaning against a roughly carved base. His right leg is fully extended, the puttee and mud caked boot carefully detailed. Two fingers of his right hand rest lightly on the barrel of his upright rifle, supporting its fixed bayonet against his right shoulder. His upper body leans forward, his chin resting on his left fist, his elbow pressed into the knee of his left leg, which is raised, the foot pressed against the base. His eyes, shaded by his helmet, gaze forwards, his expression abstracted, thoughtful. The statue stands on a two stepped base surmounted by a rectangular plinth. A panel attached to the front of the plinth carries the following inscription: TO THE MEN OF 1914 – 1918 WHO WROUGHT FOR MANKIND A GREAT DELIVERANCE ALSO TO THOSE WHO IN 1939 – 1945 SERVED AND DIED TO PRESERVE OUR GLORIOUS HERITAGE. The rear of the plinth carries the following inscription: TO THOSE WHO IN THE MANY WARS AND CONFLICTS SINCE 1945 SERVED AND DIED TO PRESERVE FREEDOM. There are no names on the memorial.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.