First World War memorial cross and cloister with fountain by Sir Herbert Baker FRIBA RA, and bronzes by Sir Charles Wheeler RA. Later additions for the Second World War. Re-dedicated 2010.
Reasons for Designation
Blackmoor War Memorial cloister, cross, and fountain, which stands to the west of St Matthew’s Church, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on a family and the local community, and the sacrifice they have made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Architectural interest: a rare example of a war memorial cloister, with associated memorial cross, fountain, and commemorative plaques designed in ensemble;
* Architect: by the nationally renowned architect Sir Herbert Baker FRIBA RA (1862-1946), who designed a number of memorials at home and abroad;
* Sculptor: with plaques modelled by noted sculptor Sir Charles Wheeler RA (1892-1974);
* Design: the cloister draws on the Arts and Crafts emphasis on vernacular building traditions, with an elegant memorial cross of a type used elsewhere in England by the architect;
* Group value: with the School and School House (Grade II) and the Church of St Matthew (Grade II*).
The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials erected across England. This was the result of both the huge impact on communities of the loss of three quarters of a million British lives, and also 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.
One such memorial was raised at Blackmoor by Lord and Lady Selborne to be a permanent testament to the death of their second son, The Honourable Robert Stafford Arthur Palmer, Captain in the Hampshire Regiment, who was killed in Mesopotamia on 21 January 1916. Unveiled in 1920, the memorial cloisters and cross were designed by Sir Herbert Baker FRIBA RA, whilst the commemorative bronze plaques were modelled by Sir Charles Wheeler RA. Captain Palmer had been a pupil at Winchester College: Baker had two sons at school there, and following the success of the Blackmoor Cloister was commissioned to design the College’s War Cloister (unveiled 1924, and among Baker’s most celebrated works).
In his early work for the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission Baker made a proposal for a cross to stand in all of the Commission’s cemeteries, but a design by Sir Reginald Blomfield was chosen. Although the Commission’s architects were free to use crosses of their own choice within the cemeteries that they designed, the Blomfield cross proved to be the universal choice. Baker, nevertheless, used variants of his cross design for a number of English war memorials, including that at Blackmoor: where he was also able to include a cloister, unlike his scheme for two arcaded walks at the Kent County memorial at Canterbury, which was abandoned due to lack of funds.
Whilst the memorial’s plaque commemorating Captain Palmer was in place for the unveiling ceremony, the two ‘War’ and ‘Peace’ plaques were added slightly later. The memorial’s fountain was intended to be a water supply for the village children attending the adjacent school (Grade II-listed), “whose daily presence was to provide animation and lively activity, uniting the dead and the living future of the village.”
As well as Captain Palmer, Blackmoor’s memorial also marks the local servicemen who died in the First World War. Thirty-six First World War, and latterly eight Second World War, names were commemorated (this Second World War plaque also by Wheeler, in 1949). A further six First World War and four Second World War names were added when a new plaque was placed in the cloister and dedicated on 6 June 2010. This addition, and also repairs to the memorial in 2005 including re-fitting the fountain, were assisted by War Memorials Trust.
Sir Herbert Baker FRIBA RA (1862-1946) was born, and died, in Cobham, his English home. Articled to Arthur Baker in 1881, he was Assistant to Messrs Ernest George and Peto (1886-90) 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 Dehli. 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).
Sir Charles Wheeler RA (1892-1974) was an architectural sculptor of considerable note, President of the Royal Academy from 1956 to 1966. Classed as unfit for military service in 1914, during the First World War he modelled and cast prostheses for amputees. He was a student at the Royal College of Art from 1912 to 1917. During his long and eminent career Wheeler collaborated with a number of important designers and architects. His many works include the figures and façade of the Bank of England (1928-37, with Sir Herbert Baker, Grade I); figures on Sir Herbert Baker’s Indian Memorial to the Missing at Neuve Chapelle, Flanders (1927); the Jellicoe memorial and bronze Mermen fountain group in Trafalgar Square (1948, to Sir Edwin Lutyens’ design, Grade II*); the sculptural elements on Sir Edward Maufe’s Second World War section of the Merchant Navy Memorial, Tower Hill (1952, Grade II*); and the Second World War figures on the three Royal Navy Memorials to the Missing at Chatham, Portsmouth, and Plymouth (1952-4, all Grade I). His contributions at the Blackmoor Cloisters are therefore early examples of both his war memorial work, and of his long-term collaboration with Baker. In 1947 Wheeler was appointed to the committee that administered the Royal Academy’s Herbert Baker scholarship.
The memorial cloister stands between the School and School House (Grade II) and the Church of St Matthew (Grade II*), on the northern side of the road through Blackmoor village. Reminiscent of an open-fronted agricultural building, it takes the form of an arcaded cloister on three sides, open to the south and made up of heavy timber-framing with a Bargate stone rear wall, lowered at the end bays fronting the road. The roof is of Horsham slates, ending at each side as a gable.
The commemorative bronze plaques in the cloister are fixed to the rear (north) wall. The western-most and eastern-most plaques are square whilst the two plaques either side of the central fountain have semi-circular heads: that for the ‘War’ plaque is ornamented with a leafless tree, whilst that for the ‘Peace’ plaque is ornamented with a tree in full leaf with blossoms. In the centre a niche houses the fountain, with a rose encircled by a laurel wreath cast in low relief above the dedication to the men of the village, and a small lion’s head for the water spout. The inscriptions read:
(north, far left) REMEMBER CHILDREN/ THE GLORY AND THE/ SADNESS OF WAR/ THE COURAGE OF THE/ MEN & THE SORROW/ AND SUFFERING/ OF ALL THE/ PEOPLE
(north, left) + WAR +/ IN THE HAND OF THE/ LORD THERE IS A CUP &/ THE WINE IS RED IT IS/ FULL MIXED AND HE/ POURETH OUT OF THE/ SAME + AS FOR THE DREGS/ THEREOF ALL THE UNGODLY OF/ THE EARTH SHALL DRINK/ THEM AND LAP THEM UP
(north, fountain) CHILDREN REMEMBER THE NAMES OF THE MEN/ FROM THIS VILLAGE WHO FEARLESSLY GAVE THEIR/ LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY IN THE WAR OF 1914-1918/ (NAMES)
(north, right) + PEACE +/ BLESSED ARE THE PEACE/ MAKERS FOR THEY SHALL/ BE CALLED THE CHILDREN/ OF GOD. ACCOUNT NOW/ BY SELF WITH GOD/ BE AT PEACE THEREBY/ GOOD SHALL COME UNTO THEE/ THERE IS NO PEACE SAITH/ MY GOD TO THE WICKED
(north, far right) IN MEMORY OF/ ROBERT STAFFORD/ ARTHUR PALMER/ KILLED IN BATTLE HIS/ PARENTS HAVE CAUSED/ THIS CLOISTER AND FOUNTAIN TO/ BE MADE
(east) 1939-1945/ ALSO/ IN SACRED MEMORY/ OF THOSE MEN FROM/ BLACKMOOR WHO GAVE / THEIR LIVES IN THE/ SECOND WORLD WAR/ (NAMES)/ GREATER LOVE HATH/ NO MAN THAN THIS
(west) IN SACRED MEMORY/ OF THOSE MEN FROM/ THIS PARISH WHO ALSO/ GAVE THEIR LIVES IN/ TWO WORLD WARS/ 1914 – 1918/ (NAMES)/ 1939 – 1945/ (NAMES)/ WE WILL REMEMBER THEM
The cloister walkway is paved with stone flags. There is a low bench to the rear wall, broken only by the semi-circular drain to the fountain. Steps lead down into the central garden. The front step to the road is semi-circular.
A memorial cross stands at the centre of the garden. The cross takes the form of a wheel-head cross rising from a moulded collar, on an octagonal cross shaft. The moulded foot of the cross shaft, encircled by low-relief carvings, stands on a drum-like plinth, octagonal in plan with a shallow circular head. The inscription TRULY THERE IS A GOD THAT JUDGETH THE EARTH is carved in relief around the circular head. The plinth stands on a three-stepped, octagonal, base.
This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 4 May 2021 to reword a sentence in the description