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Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College War Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Castle, City of Leicester

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.619 / 52°37'8"N

Longitude: -1.124 / 1°7'26"W

OS Eastings: 459403

OS Northings: 302718

OS Grid: SK594027

Mapcode National: GBR FJR.T1

Mapcode Global: WHDJJ.PFZK

Entry Name: Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College War Memorial

Listing Date: 13 June 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1433242

Location: Leicester, LE1

County: City of Leicester

Civil Parish: Non Civil Parish

Unitary Authority Ward: Castle

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Leicester The Holy Spirit

Church of England Diocese: Leicester

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Summary

First World War memorial at Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College, Leicester by Col. J C Baines, O.W. unveiled and dedicated on 10 July 1922. An additional memorial in the form of a gate and gate piers, in memory of those men who lost their lives in the Second World War was later added, unveiled and dedicated on 19 March 1950.

Description

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 19 July 2016.

First World War memorial at Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College, Leicester by Col. J C Baines, O.W. unveiled and dedicated on 10 July 1922. An additional memorial in the form of a gate and gate piers, in memory of those men who lost their lives in the Second World War was later added, unveiled and dedicated on 19 March 1950.

The memorial stands immediately outside the principal entrance of Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College and forms a focal point on the access routes from both Victoria Park Road and University Road.

PLAN: the well-crafted memorial in ashlar comprises a square plan pillar, approximately 9ft tall with recessed corners, standing on two square plan steps in a circular stone setting. Stone panels set within each face are inscribed in relief with the principal dedication to the front (limestone panel) and the names of those who lost their lives on the other three sides (slate panels). A drip mould is positioned above each panel offering some protection to the inscriptions.

DESCRIPTION: the principal dedicatory inscription reads INMEMORIAM/AETERNAM HUIUS SCHOLAE/ ALUMNORUM QUI IN SUMMO/ GLORIAM PATRIAE SALUTEM/ PEPERERUNT/ MCMXIV-MCMXVIII/ET/ MCMXXXIX-MCMXLV. Above this is the school crest carved in stone. The names of the 191 masters and old boys of the college who lost their lives in the First World War are inscribed in alphabetical order around the other three sides.

The Second World War memorial stands approximately 3m in front of the earlier cenotaph and is linked by an extension to the stone paving and more recently by the addition of iron railings and a hedge. It comprises two low, square-plan piers with short lengths of walling to each side, supporting wrought iron gates, that to the right is adorned with the Arms of the City of Leicester and that to the left the school crest. Although much smaller the gate piers are very similar in design to the earlier memorial; constructed in ashlar, square in plan with recessed corners and stone panels front and back bearing the names of the fallen. Both front and back of each pier is inscribed with 1939-1945 above the lists of names.

In accordance with section s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act, 1990, the railings surrounding the horseshoe-shaped enclosure are excluded from the listing.

History

The concept of commemorating war dead did not develop to any great extent until towards the end of the 19th century. Prior to then memorials 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, which was the first major war following reforms to the British Army which led to regiments being recruited from local communities and with volunteer soldiers. 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.

In November 1922 it was agreed that a memorial of monumental character should be erected in the grounds of Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys (as it was then known) to commemorate the ‘Old Wyggestonians who fell in the war.’ Col. J C Baines, a former pupil who had commanded a battalion of the Leicester Regiment in the field, was asked to design the memorial. It was unveiled by Col. P H Croker C.B, C.M.G., and dedicated by the Bishop of Peterborough on 10 July 1922.

Following prayers the Bishop of Peterborough gave an address inspired by the design of the cenotaph; a square plan pillar approximately 9ft tall. The memorial was compared to a tomb, an altar and a pillar. He suggested the cenotaph was an empty tomb erected to the memory of someone buried elsewhere and a place to ‘bury the pride, self-will, and spirit of self-aggrandisement which had led to the war.’ An alter meant sacrifice ‘we must follow the example of our dead comrades and be ready to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others and the whole world.’ A pillar ‘pointed heavenwards to the God of Love.’

Following the Second World War a sub-committee of the Old Wyggestonian Association was set up to consider the matter of a memorial to those men of the school who died during that conflict. It was felt that the memorial should be linked to the existing cenotaph and the path linking the two features should be directly aligned with the entrance of the Great Hall and form the focal point of the site. The additional memorial was to take the form of wrought iron gates hung on low piers on which the names of the fallen should be inscribed. It was felt such a feature would add both to the beauty of the site and be linked architecturally to the 1914-18 cenotaph. The unveiling by Air Vice-Marshal D V Carnegie, and dedication by Lord Bishop of Leicester took place on Sunday 19 March 1950.

Between 1930 and 1946 the original war memorial was moved. Originally positioned outside the Great Hall it was moved to take a central position aligned with the main entrance of what is now Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College to the north-east and the former swimming pool to the south-west. Photographic evidence indicates that the gates were originally positioned on the south-west side of the cenotaph but were moved to the north-west in 1990s.

At some time later railings were added to create a horseshoe shaped enclosure further defined by the planting of a dense hedge. This serves to enclose both phases of the memorial.

Reasons for Listing

Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College War Memorial by Col. J C Baines, O.W. unveiled and dedicated on 10 July 1922 incorporating the Second World War element unveiled and dedicated on 19 March 1950 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: it is a poignant reminder of the impact of tragic world events upon a single community and, thus, has strong cultural and historical significance within both a local and national context;

* Architectural interest: as an elegant, accomplished and well-executed memorial in the form of a pillar with stone gate piers and wrought-iron gates.

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