As reported in Rye News’ last issue, the War Memorial in the south-east corner of St Mary’s Churchyard has been listed. More detail is now available from Historic England, (the successor to English Heritage), giving the history of its construction.
In December 1918, at a public meeting in Rye Town Hall, it was agreed that a permanent memorial to the fallen should be erected by public subscription in St Mary’s churchyard. At the same meeting it was also agreed that a memorial cottage hospital should be built to be funded by public subscription.
Both were designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, the prolific late Victorian/Edwardian architect who lived locally on Point Hill, Playden. He is credited with completing the design of the Regent Street Quadrant leading into Piccadilly, London and many other public and private buildings. Amongst his works are the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres and many war memorials in cemeteries both in Britain and overseas.
Sir Reginald personally supervised the construction of the cross which was unveiled on October 19 1919. It incorporates the Cross of Sacrifice which was his design. This is a bronze sword mounted on the front face of the cross, and the prototype of which is held in Rye Castle Museum.
The 6m tall cross in Bath stone is set on a three-stage octagonal plinth and records the names of those soldiers who fell in the two World Wars and later the Gulf War (1990-91) and the Iraq War 2003-11).
Only a tiny fraction of our war memorials are currently listed, says Historic England, and its aim is to list 2,500 more over the First World War centenary period 2014-18. Historic England is encouraging local communities to get their war memorials listed, and is offering advice and grants for their upkeep and encouraging research with education packs and workshops.
Photo: Kenneth Bird