The War Cloister, Winchester College


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Winchester College, College Street, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 9NA


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Statutory Address:
Winchester College, College Street, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 9NA

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Winchester (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


War memorial. Erected 1922-24 to the design of the architect Sir Herbert Baker, with a memorial cross by the sculptor Alfred Turner, carvings by Charles Wheeler and main inscription designed by the Art Master of the college, R M Y Gleadowe. Emblems designed by George K Gray and painted by Lawrence Turner. The master foreman was A E Clarke and the builders were Messrs. Holloway Brothers.

Reasons for Designation

The War Cloister, Winchester College, built in 1922-24 to the design of Sir Herbert Baker, is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: as the largest known private war memorial in Europe and arguably the most distinguished of all war memorials at public schools;

* Design: as a vision of Headmaster Montague Rendall, and a memorial that was unusually designed in the form of a cloister, reflecting the college’s medieval buildings and serving as a via sacra (sacred way) to the college precincts;

* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on Winchester College, and the sacrifice it made in the major conflicts of the C20;

* Architect: as a celebrated work of Sir Herbert Baker, one of the nation’s foremost architects of the earlier C20 and a major designer for the Imperial War Graves Commission;

* Sculptural interest: for the high quality of the sculpture, such as the central cross and crusader knights by the sculptor Alfred Turner, and main flushwork inscription designed in Lombardic-style lettering by the Art Master of the college, R M Y Gleadowe;

* Symbolic: for the wealth of symbolic detail including the angels carrying gilded symbols, the badges of 120 regiments on the walls, corbels and roof beams, and the coats of arms carved into the spandrels of the cloister arcade;

* Materials: as a memorial constructed in the finest materials, including Portland stone ashlar, oak and Purbeck stone slate, decorated with stone from across the world including South African granite, Australian syenite, Canadian marble and Indian black marble;

* Historic Association: with Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding, leader of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain and former Wykehamist, commemorated on a bronze bust within the cloister;

* Group value: with the Grade I-listed medieval buildings of the college, Grade II-listed South Africa Gateway and Memorial Buildings.


The War Cloister was designed as a memorial to those of Winchester College that died during the First World War. The college was founded by William of Wykeham in 1382 and was intended, along with its associated institution of New College, Oxford, to help provide the church with well-educated clergy. In 1387-94 the first buildings were erected, including two courts, Outer and Chamber Court, and beyond them a cloister, to which was added a chantry chapel in the 1420s. The War Cloister is positioned immediately south-west of these medieval buildings and was designed in a style intended to harmonise with the existing structures. It was built just to the west of the open area of college grounds known as the Meads.

A total of 2488 members of the Winchester College community served in the armed forces during the First World War, including teaching staff, Quiristers (choirboys), and pupils (known as Wykehamists). It is recorded that 513 died. Among these was the then Prime Minister’s son, Raymond Asquith (1878-1916), who died during the Battle of the Somme. The number of boys in the school annually between 1914 and 1918 was no more than 450. The college therefore, effectively lost a generation of young men to the war. Winchester College had established an Officer Training Corp (OTC) in 1908 and by 1914, following a request by the War Office that Senior Cadets be given appropriate training for the war effort, almost every student became involved in the Corps. This training assured them of a junior commission and therefore, a direct route to the front line. Four Wykehamists were awarded the Victoria Cross during the conflict: Captain Arthur Kilby (1885-1915) who died at the Battle of Loos, Second Lieutenant Dennis Hewitt (1897-1917) who died at Ypres, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie (1868-1915) who died at Gallipoli, and Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Burges (1873-1946).

As early as October 1915 a proposal for a war memorial in the form of a school hall was being discussed by the Headmaster, Montague Rendall (1862-1950) the Warden and Fellows of the college. A year later this idea had transformed into a large central gate flanked by two halls, providing space for a war museum, a new masters’ common room, a new class room and a war memorial cloister. The plans were discussed in November 1917 during an old boys dinner, attended by the Headmaster and 70 old Wykehamists given leave from duty, at Salon Godbert in Amiens, France, behind the British lines. Seven generals and twelve colonels graced the dinner, as well as three young subalterns whose names would sadly appear on the memorial they discussed that night. The architect Sir Herbert Baker FRIBA RA (1862-1946) was commissioned to design the memorial and submitted his initial proposals in April 1918. In 1921 the larger scheme was abandoned due to lack of funds and it was decided that the memorial would be formed of the War Cloister alone. The cloister was to serve as a via sacra; a sacred way to the school precincts, and would be in addition to the colleges’ three other memorials to Wykehamists that died during the Crimean War (1853-56), during the Boer War (1899-1902), and to Major-General Sir Herbert Stewart (1843-1885). In addition a new stone altar was erected in the chapel, the reredos was reconstructed, four memorial volumes printed, and provision made for the education of sons of Wykehamists who died during the war.

The War Cloister is among the most celebrated works of Sir Herbert Baker. He was born, and died, in Cobham, his English home.  Articled to Arthur Baker in 1881, Herbert was subsequently Assistant to Messrs Ernest George and Peto and attended the Royal Academy Schools. During the 1890s he was in South Africa, designing the Prime Ministerial residence Groote Schuur and many private residences as well as government buildings following the South African union.  From 1912 he collaborated with Sir Edwin Lutyens in India on New Delhi.  From 1917 to 1928, Baker was one of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission principal architects, for whom he designed 113 cemeteries on the Western Front including Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world.  He was also responsible for four Memorials to the Missing including those to the South Africans at Delville Wood and the Indians at Neuve Chapelle. He designed 24 war memorials in England.  During the inter-war years his work at home included South Africa House (Grade II*), Rhodes House (Grade II*) and, his last major public commission, the Bank of England (Grade I). Herbert later wrote in his autobiography that the years spent designing and building the War Cloister at Winchester were among the happiest of his life and that having two sons at the college added greatly to this pleasure.

The foundation stone of the War Cloister was laid by Sir Edward Grey (1862-1933), an old Wykehamist, in a ceremony on Saturday 15th July 1922. It took two years to construct and cost £65,000. A garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll was laid out within the cloister garth. It comprised borders of flowers, in which roses and white lilies prevailed, set around four grass lawns (the borders were replanted in the 1960s and 2014). A memorial cross, flanked by crusaders, was erected at the centre of the garth to the design of the sculptor Alfred Turner RA (1874-1940). The War Cloister was opened by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, in a dedication ceremony on 31st May 1924. Relatives of the fallen and dignitaries attended, along with a guard of honour of the Winchester College OTC and the band of the Coldstream Guards. The unveiling and dedications were pronounced by Bishop Talbot of Winchester followed by an address by Sir Edward Grey and the singing of the National Anthem. It finished with two minutes silence, the sounding of the Last Post, and the hymn O God our Help in Ages Past.

The War Cloister became integrated into college life and a tradition was adopted whereby pupils and staff would raise their hats upon entering the cloister in reverence and memory of those that died. After the Second World War, the names of old Wykehamists that lost their lives during the conflict were inscribed on panels attached to the insides of the pillars of the cloister, facing those commemorated in the Great War, and a prefatory panel was positioned at the entrance. A total of 2455 members of the college community served in the armed forces during the conflict and 285 gave their lives as a result of enemy action. Among those old Wykehamists who held prominent positions during the war were: Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding (1882-1970), who headed Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, Sir Charles Portal (1893-1971), Chief of the Air Staff, and Field Marshall Archibald Wavell (1883-1950). The War Cloister was re-dedicated by Bishop Haigh of Winchester on 14th November 1948 with an address given by Field Marshal Wavell. Air Chief Marshal Dowding was commemorated with a bronze bust within the cloister; he had played a crucial role in the defence of the nation during the Battle of Britain.


War memorial. Erected 1922-24 to the design of the architect Sir Herbert Baker, with a memorial cross by the sculptor Alfred Turner, carvings by Charles Wheeler and main inscription designed by the Art Master of the college, R M Y Gleadowe. Emblems designed by George K Gray and painted by Lawrence Turner. The master foreman was A E Clarke and the builders were Messrs. Holloway Brothers.

MATERIALS: Knapped flint and Portland stone ashlar with an oak roof covered by Purbeck stone slate. There are name tablets of Derbyshire Hopton Wood stone, and slabs of South African granite, Australian syenite, Canadian marble and Indian black marble laid in the floor.

PLAN: A quadrangular cloister with a main entrance on the east side and additional entrances at the south and south-west. A memorial cross is positioned within a garden at the centre of the cloister garth.

DESCRIPTION: The main entrance to the War Cloister is at the east via Meads Gate. It comprises a round-headed arch containing wrought-iron gates decorated with angels sounding trumpets, and is set under a gable with projecting kneelers and a stone coping. A niche containing a carving of St Mary, the Patron Saint of the college, by Charles Wheeler is positioned above the arch. She is stood beneath a crown and holds the Child Jesus upright in her hands. Immediately above the niche is decorative flushwork; a crowned monogram and cross. Embedded in the wall on either side of the arch are Latin inscriptions commemorating the laying of the foundation stone and the opening of the War Cloister. On the left side is the inscription: LAPIDEM IN CLAUSTRO AD FULCIENDAM CRUCEM/ POSITUM CUM SUPPLICATIONE ET CONCENTO MULI:/ :TORUM CONTIONATO EDWARDO VICECOMITE/ GREY DE FALLODON: ID: QUINCT: A.D. MCMXXII/ DEDICAVIT GULIELMUS ANDREWES FEARON:/ S:T:P: COLLEGII HUIUSCE OLIM INFORMATOR. On the right is the inscription: VIAM SACRAM PRID:KAL:IUN: MCMXXIV PATE-/ -FECIT PRINCEPS HONORATISSIMUS PATRUUS REGIS/ ARTURUS DUX DE CONNAUGHT: DEDICAVIT/ EDWARDUS TALBOT S:T:P: EPISCOPUS WINTON: EMERITUS: COLLAUDAVIT EDWARDUS VICECOMES/ GREY DE FALLODON: A CELEBERRIMO WICCAMICORUM/ CONVENT REDDITAE SUNT DEO GRATES. The walls that enclose the cloister are built of knapped flint and limestone blocks with a chamfered plinth, corner buttresses, and a chamfered string course set just below eaves level. In the north wall, close to the north-east angle, is a Craftsmen’s Stone, which is inscribed with the craftsmen’s names in Latin: IN HOC AEDIFICIO COMMUNITER LABORA-/ VERUNT ARCHITECTUS, HERBERTUS BAKER:/ SCULPTORES, ALFREDUS TURNER, CAROLUS/ WHEELER: SIGNORUM INVENTOR, KRUGER/ GRAY: ARTIFEX AC PICTOR, LAURENTIUS/ TURNER: AEDIFICATOR, HENRICUS HOLLO-/ WAY: MAGISTER OPERUM, ALBERTUS CLARKE./ NON SIBI SED DEO ET MORTUIS. The last sentence is translated: Not for thee, but for God and the Dead. The cloister walk has a pitched roof covered by Purbeck stone slates.

Internally there is a cloister arcade formed of Portland stone round-headed arches supported on pairs of Tuscan columns and several pilasters with gabled buttresses facing the garth. A low chamfered stone wall or bench runs between the columns. The cloister walkway is covered by an open crown-post roof constructed of oak with tie beams supported by arched braces resting on corbels. A round-headed arched doorway at the south end of the west wall leads out to the South Africa (Boer War memorial) Gateway and Kingsgate Street. A blocked round-headed archway is positioned in the south wall next to it. A further arched doorway at the centre of the south wall leads to the college buildings on this side of the cloister. At each end of the east and the west cloister walks are shallow apses beneath finely-jointed ashlar hemi-domes. These four corners are dedicated to three Dominions of the British Empire, and to India. Under each hemi-dome is a circular slab: granite from Table Mountain in South Africa; syenite from New South Wales, Australia; Canadian Marble from Texada Isle in British Columbia, Canada; and black marble from Gudh-Gaya, India. Each slab is inlaid with a national emblem in brass. In addition there are four small gift-stones from Ypres set into the stone floor of the walkway next to Meads Gate. The badges of 120 regiments in which Old Wykehamists served are emblazed on the corbels and tie beams of the roof and the walls of the cloister walk. These were designed by George K Gray and painted by Lawrence Turner. On the oak timbers of the roof, over the arches, are wooden angels carrying gilded symbols: a Jerusalem Cross, the double cross of Ypres, the Wooden Cross, the cross of the War Graves, as well as four badges of regiments closely associated with Winchester: The Rifle Brigade, King’s Royal Rifles, Hampshire Regiment, and the Royal Artillery. The spandrels of the arches surrounding the cloister garth are also carved in low relief with: the arms and badges of the four home nations; of the see and town of Winchester; the county of Hampshire; Oxford and Cambridge; the military colleges; the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and Royal Air Force; and notable Wykehamists who held high service during the war. The Royal Arms are positioned in front of the entrance arch to unite them all.

The cloister walk is encircled by a flushwork inscription designed in Lombardic-style lettering by the Art Master of the college, R M Y Gleadowe. It runs in a continuous band around the inside wall of the cloister, as follows: THANKS BE TO GOD FOR THE SERVICE OF THESE FIVE HUNDRED WYKEHAMISTS, WHO WERE FOUND FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH AMID THE MANIFOLD CHANCES OF THE GREAT WAR. IN THE DAY OF BATTLE THEY FORGAT NOT GOD, WHO CREATED THEM TO DO HIS WILL, NOR THEIR COUNTRY, THE STRONGHOLD OF FREEDOM, NOR THEIR SCHOOL, THE MOTHER OF GODLINESS AND DISCIPLINE. STRONG IN THIS THREEFOLD FAITH THEY WENT FORTH FROM HOME AND KINDRED TO THE BATTLEFIELDS OF THE WORLD AND, TREADING THE PATH OF DUTY AND SACRIFICE, LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES FOR MANKIND. THOU, THEREFORE, FOR WHOM THEY DIED, SEEK NOT THINE OWN, BUT SERVE AS THEY SERVED, AND IN PEACE OR IN WAR BEAR THYSELF EVER AS CHRIST'S SOLDIER, GENTLE IN ALL THINGS, VALIANT IN ACTION, STEADFAST IN ADVERSITY. On each side of the cloister are groups of name tablets of Derbyshire Hopton Wood stone attached to the walls, which contain the names of the fallen of the First World War. The tablets are set in moulded surrounds with the names of the relevant battles or campaigns at the centre, beneath carved bas-reliefs. These are headed: ON THE SEAS; FRANCE FLANDERS (four panels); GALLIPOLI/ MACEDONIA/ ITALY/ MURMAN/ ARCHANGEL (one panel); EGYPT/ PALESTINE/ MESOPOTAMIA (one panel); TSING-TAU/ SIBERIA/ N.W.FRONTIER INDIA/ BALUCHISTAN/ PERSIA/ ADEN/ E.AFRICA/ S.W.AFRICA/ CAMEROONS (one panel). The name tablets are headed CAME TO WINCHESTER, followed by the year and names, commencing in 1868. The penultimate panel, ending in 1913, continues with DIED SINCE THE WAR in italics, followed by five names. The last tablet is headed ASSISTANT MASTER, followed by one name, and then QUIRISTERS, followed by six names.

The fallen of the Second World War are commemorated by 12 name tablets attached to the inside pilasters of the cloister arcade. The precursory panel has a Celtic cross beneath which is inscribed: HERE/ IN EQUAL HONOUR/ FACING THE NAMES OF THE FALLEN IN THE/ FIRST WORLD WAR/ ARE INSCRIBED/ THOSE OF THE TWO/ HUNDRED & SEVENTY/ WYKEHAMISTS/ WHO DIED SERVING/ IN THE SAME FAITH/ 1939 - 1945/ If our time be come/ let us die/ manfully for our brethren/ and let us/ not stain our honour. The name tablets are headed with years only, starting with 1913, and followed by names. On the last tablet, the last year, 1938, is followed by ASSISTANT MASTER (one name), QUIRISTERS (three names) and REPORTED SINCE THE WAR (six names). The Second World War re-dedication stone is inscribed in Latin: VIA HAEC/ IAMPRIDEM MEMORIAE/ WICCAMICORUM SACRA/ QUI PRO PATRIA/ DIMICANTES OCCUBERUNT/ ITERUM SACRATA EST/ AD XVIII KAL DEC MCMXLVIII/ EORUM ADIECTIS NOMINIBUS/ QUI EADEM SEQUENTES SIGNA/ BELLO PERIERUNT ALTERO/ SUPPLICAVIT/ MERVYN EPISCOPUS WINTON/ CONTIONATUS EST/ ARCHIBALD COMES WAVELL. Set on a corbel in a round-headed alcove at the centre of the west wall, opposite Meads Gate, is a bronze bust of Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding, head of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.

A garden is located within the cloister garth. It is fringed by a narrow border of shrubs and divided into four square lawns by stone-paved pathways. These converge at the centre where there is a war memorial cross by Alfred Turner. It comprises a Celtic cross, which surmounts the capital of an octagonal stone column with a moulded base, resting on a two-tier octagonal plinth and two-tier stepped base. The cross is inscribed in Greek: ‘Christ is Risen’. It is flanked by sentinel figures; two crusaders, one facing east, one facing west, each clasping a broadsword pointed downwards. On the top-tier of the plinth is the Latin inscription: ESTO FIDELIS USQUE AD MORTEM ET DABO TIBI CORONAM VITAE. It is translated as: be faithful until death and I will give thee a crown of life.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 4 May 2021 to amend a sentence in description.


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Books and journals
Baker, H, Architecture and Personalities, (1944), 96-97
Kernot, CF, British Public Schools War Memorials, (1927), 80-82
Pevsner, N, Bullen, M, Crook, J, Hubbuck, R, The Buildings of England: Hampshire: Winchester and the North, (2010), 653-654
Seldon, A, Walsh, D, Public Schools and The Great War: The Generation Lost, (2013), 137, 192, 199
Imperial War Museum War Memorials Register, Ref No.22015, accessed 1st March 2017 from
The War Cloister , accessed 1 March 2017 from
‘A Via Sacra. Winchester College War Memorial’, The Times, Issue No.43665 (30 May 1924), p17. (Available via The Times Digital Archive at
‘Winchester College: War Memorial Cloister Rededicated’, The Times, Issue No.51229 (15 November 1948), p7. (Available via The Times Digital Archive at
‘Winchester War Memorial: College Cloister opened’, The Times, Issue No.43667 (2 June 1924), p9. (Available via The Times Digital Archive at


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 17 Dec 2003
Reference: IOE01/11550/35
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