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Edgbaston War Memorial at St Augustine's Church

A Grade II Listed Building in Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.4731 / 52°28'23"N

Longitude: -1.9457 / 1°56'44"W

OS Eastings: 403785

OS Northings: 286135

OS Grid: SP037861

Mapcode National: GBR 5PC.8B

Mapcode Global: VH9Z2.737F

Entry Name: Edgbaston War Memorial at St Augustine's Church

Listing Date: 20 November 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1430856

Location: Birmingham, B16

County: Birmingham

Civil Parish: Non Civil Parish

Metropolitan District Ward: Edgbaston

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Edgbaston St Augustine

Church of England Diocese: Birmingham

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Summary

First World War memorial, 1921, with later additions for the Second World War.

Description

The memorial stands in front of the Parish Church of St Augustine of Hippo (Grade II*), to the south side of the church. Built in Portland stone, it comprises a two-stepped base surmounted by tapering, square, stele. A pedestal, slightly stepped back, on top of the stele bears carved wreaths on each side. Standing on the pedestal a tapering pillar carries an eternal flame. Each side of the pillar is carved with a robed figure, holding wreaths and with palm leaves carved at each arris.

On the upper part of the front of the stele the principal dedication reads IN HONOURED MEMORY/ OF ALL THOSE WHO WENT/ FROM THIS PARISH AND/ FELL IN THE GREAT WAR/ 1914-1919/ AND/ 1939-1945. Below at the foot of the stele is carved FOR GOD AND COUNTRY. The commemorated names are carved on the remaining three sides of the stele.

History

The war memorial was the product of a competition organised by a local committee soon after the end of the First World War. The committee specified a memorial that did not overtly reflect any religious denomination, despite being situated beside the church. The winning design, chosen by Sir Whitworth Wallis (1844-1927), who was at the time the curator of Birmingham City Art Gallery, was by JH Morcom. In his Faculty Petition of 13 May 1921, the Reverend Rosslyn Bruce wrote, ‘The proposed monument does not represent an urn but rather a column. It is surmounted by the symbolic flame, representative of eternal life. The angels hold wreaths of laurel and the whole embodies the severest simplicity. The purpose has been kept that the view of meeting the wishes of many bereaved parents of many differing “denominations” to whom symbolism means little.’

The original design included a York stone pavement, an enclosing hedge, and two stone bollards each carved with four swords in reverse. This part of the design was not completed. The Faculty was granted on 24 June 1921. The memorial cost £640 and was unveiled on 28 July 1921.

Joseph Herbert Morcom ARCA (1871-1942) worked first for a local firm of stonemasons in Wales, later securing a position with Norbury, Paterson & Co of Liverpool. In the early 1890s he enrolled at Liverpool School of Architecture and Applied Art. By 1904 he was Assistant Modelling Master at the School and in 1910 was appointed Modelling Master at Leicester School of Art. Four years later he bought Pearson and Shipley, a firm of stonemasons and monumental sculptors, which he renamed The Plasmatic Company. He was responsible for a number of other war memorials, including those at Quorn, Aylestone, and for Cortonwood Colliery.

Reasons for Listing

Edgbaston War Memorial, situated beside the Parish Church of St Augustine of Hippo, 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: a competition winning entry by the notable designer JH Morcom;
* Sculptural interest: a well-executed monument, elegantly combining Classical form with Art Deco style;
* Group value: with the Parish Church of St Augustine of Hippo (Grade II*-listed).

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