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'The Cross': a hill-figure war memorial at Lenham

A Grade II Listed Building in Lenham, Kent

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.2423 / 51°14'32"N

Longitude: 0.729 / 0°43'44"E

OS Eastings: 590579

OS Northings: 152773

OS Grid: TQ905527

Mapcode National: GBR QT6.53K

Mapcode Global: VHKK5.L17H

Entry Name: 'The Cross': a hill-figure war memorial at Lenham

Listing Date: 5 December 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1438738

Location: Lenham, Maidstone, Kent, ME17

County: Kent

District: Maidstone

Civil Parish: Lenham

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Summary

War memorial comprising a hill-figure cross carved into the south facing slope of the North Downs and a separate stepped enclosure with fixed bench and memorial plaque. Unveiled in September 1922.

Description

'The Cross', a hill-figure war memorial, of 1922, designed by Mr C H Groom and unveiled by Major-General Sir Arthur Lynden-Bell KCB KCMG DL JP.

MATERIALS: the memorial is constructed of compacted chalk on a natural chalk base.

DESCRIPTION: the hill-figure memorial, which is in the form of a chalk Latin cross, is carved into the south-facing slope of the North Downs, just north of 'The Pilgrims Way' trackway overlooking the village of Lenham, Kent. The cross measures approximately 61.5m north-south and 21.6m east-west.

A separate enclosure which contained the original memorial stone, 27m south of the cross, has iron railings set on low stone walls. Inside there are six steps leading to a terrace with a wooden bench fixed to a concrete base.

A memorial plaque affixed to the gate of the railed enclosure is inscribed and reads: THE WHITE CROSS/ ON THE HILL/ COMMEMORATES THE DEAD OF THE TWO WORLD WARS/ THE MEMORIAL STONE WITHIN THIS ENCLOSURE WAS REMOVED TO THE CHURCHYARD/ IN 1960/ THE SEAT WAS PRESENTED TO THE PEOPLE/ OF LENHAM BY THE ASHFORD BRANCH OF THE/ REME ASSOCIATION TO COMMEMORATE THEIR CLOSE/ *LINKS WITH THE MEMORIAL WAS PRESENTED/ IN 1977. (*The last sentence is partly illegible).

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 11 January 2018.

History

'The Cross', a hill-figure memorial, was constructed as a permanent testament to the sacrifice of those from the parish who died during the First World War. It was unveiled in September 1922 by Major-General Sir Arthur Lynden-Bell KCB KCMG DL JP (1867-1943). The memorial, which was designed by Mr C H Groom the village school headmaster, originally included an inscribed memorial stone within a separate fenced enclosure at the south end of the cross. The cross hill-figure was constructed by Mr Freddie Baldock with volunteers from the village, who excavated its form through the natural geology by hand.

To ease access for survivors and relatives of those fallen, the memorial stone was re-located in 1960 to the churchyard of St Mary's Church, Lenham (NHLE 1086103, Grade I), nearly 1km to the south-west. Following the Second World War, a second inscribed memorial stone was added and is located within the above churchyard. The re-located stones, which now stand on a plinth, are of roughly hewn granite with smoothed face-panels, inscribed with black lettering. These include the names of those fallen in both World Wars.

In 1977, the Ashford Branch of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) Association presented a wooden bench and a memorial plaque as additions to the separate stepped memorial enclosure, south of the cross. The hill-figure cross is maintained by volunteers from the village and was most recently restored with new chalk in 1994.

Reasons for Listing

The war memorial at Lenham, Kent, a chalk-cut hill-figure of a cross with separate enclosure, of 1922, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:
* As an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this local community, and the sacrifice it has made in the conflicts of the C20;

Architectural interest:
* As an unusual type of memorial, striking in its scale and form;

Group value:
* With the inscribed memorial stones, now located within the churchyard of St Mary's Church (National Heritage List for England 1086103, Grade I).

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