War memorial, 2nd Boer War.
Reason for Listing
Bedford Boer War Memorial, unveiled in 1904, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historical interest: it is an unusual and moving reminder of the impact of the Boer War on the community;
* Artistic interest: The sculpture is expressive and full of vitality, the detail skilfully and realistically rendered;
* Presentation and group value: the memorial occupies a prominent position in the forecourt of the Grade II* listed Swan Hotel (NHLE 1311924), standing directly in front of the hotel's main entrance. It also has group value with Bedford Bridge, listed at Grade II as Town Bridge over the River Ouse (NHLE 1138004) and also scheduled as BD 91 (NHLE 1005399).
The Boer War (1899-1902) was the second and longer of two conflicts between the British and the Boer Republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The first took place from 1880-81. The number of casualties of the war was high, due in part to the guerrilla tactics employed by the Boers in the latter part of the war; but the number of lives lost in action was greatly outweighed by deaths from disease, which accounted for 65% of a total number of 22000 British soldiers lost.
The memorial to all Bedfordshire men who died in the second Boer War, whether serving with county regiments or in other branches of the Imperial forces, was funded by public subscription, and unveiled on June 2nd 1904 by Lady Cowper, the wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, in the presence of mounted troops and infantry, and a considerable crowd of civilians. The memorial is said to have been designed by a French sculptor, Leon Joseph Chavillard (1858-1919). The cost of the memorial was just over £1062.
War Memorial, 2nd Boer War; unveiled 2nd June 1904; designed by Leon Joseph Chavillard; bronze statue on Portland stone plinth with bronze plaques.
The memorial stands in the forecourt of the Swan Hotel (Grade II*) and takes the form of a bronze statue of a soldier in full combat uniform, standing informally at ease. His left leg is forward, while both hands clasp the top of his rifle barrel, the butt resting on the ground. The soldier is raised high above pavement level by a tall plinth of classical form with deep cornice incorporating a Venetian arch, and with a moulded base. The plinth stands at the centre of a raised square platform surrounded by metal bollards, one to each corner and one to the centre of each side. On each side of the plinth is a bronze panel on which are engraved the names of the 230 men who died, recorded by rank and by regiment, and also an inscription which reads as follows:
TO THE MEMORY OF THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE BEDFORDSHIRE REGIMENTS AND OF BEDFORDSHIRE MEN SERVING IN OTHER BRANCHES OF THE IMPERIAL FORCES WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN CAMPAIGN AND WHOSE NAMES ARE HEREON RECORDED. THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION IN THE COUNTY. WAR DECLARED OCTOBER 8th 1899 PEACE PROCLAIMED JUNE 1st 1902
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.