Lytham St Anne's War Memorial


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Ashton Gardens, St George's Road, Lytham St Anne's, FY8 2AE


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Statutory Address:
Ashton Gardens, St George's Road, Lytham St Anne's, FY8 2AE

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

Fylde (District Authority)
Saint Anne's on the Sea
National Grid Reference:
SD 31973 29000, SD3197329000


First World War memorial, erected in 1924 by Lord Ashton. Architect is Thomas Smith Tait. Bronze sculptures are by Walter Marsden. Statuary cast at the Morris Art Bronze Foundry, Lambeth.

Reasons for Designation

Lytham St Anne’s War Memorial, designed by Thomas Smith Tait in 1923, with sculpture by Walter Marsden, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Sculptural interest: for high quality and poignant depictions in the round of a shell-shocked soldier and a grieving widow, together with detailed chronological reliefs, by notable sculptor Walter Marsden;

* Rarity: for extremely rare depictions of a shell-shocked soldier, a grieving widow, wounded and gassed soldiers and women both on active service and on the Home Front;

* Architectural interest: a bold white granite pylon by Thomas Smith Tait, with high quality bronze sculpture by Walter Marsden;

* Design interest: for an unusual chronological series of panels in relief around the base of the monument;

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

* Group value: with the Grade II registered Ashton Gardens.


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 Lytham St Anne's, as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.

The erecting of Lytham St Anne’s War memorial in 1924 was made possible by a gift of £10000, donated by Lord Ashton. The memorial commemorates the fallen of the Municipal Borough of Lytham St Anne’s, formed in 1922 by the merger of Lytham and St Anne’s urban district councils. It was unveiled on 12 October 1924 by Alderman Charles Critchley, whose son Burton ‘Plum’ Critchley was killed in 1918 while serving in the RAF. The ceremony was attended by the Rt Hon Stephen Walsh (Minister for War), Maj Gen Sir Cecil Lothian Nicholson KCB CMG (whose son was killed at Arras), Lt Gen Sir Richard Butler KCB KCMG and 1000 ex-servicemen. The unveiling was also attended by nine children of fallen servicemen, who were later presented with gold medals inscribed with the coat of arms of the borough.

The memorial is notable not only for its figures in the round, but also for the narrative depicted in bronze plaques. The plaques show a succession of scenes, from a soldier leaving his wife and child to the weary return of a group of soldiers. Also of note is that the soldiers are carrying the body of a dead comrade – as with the depiction of women, depictions of the dead are rare on war memorials.

The booklet produced for the veiling ceremony described the mother and child sculpture on the monument as showing “the agony of mind caused to womanhood by the tragedies of war. [The mother] sits in anguish and sorrowful reverie, quite unconscious that her babe is looking to her for a mother’s love. She looks, as it were, into the unknown future, realizing what her sacrifice means, and wondering why”. Similarly the sculpture of the soldier was described as depicting: “The constant nervous strain of continuous trench warfare, brought about the ever-present feeling that danger was lurking near, a state of tension which, in the opinion of the Artist, was the cause of more mental agony than any other phase of the War”. Contemporary newspaper reports describe the memorial as “a monument which arouses deep emotion”, and “a vivid and impressive expression of the sorrows of war time”.

Walter Marsden (1882-1969), the son of a blacksmith, was one of several talented young sculptors who went on to design war memorials after military service in the First World War. Marsden was apprenticed to the Accrington Brick and Tile Company, after which he studied at Accrington Technical School and Manchester Municipal College of Art. In the First World War he served as an officer in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was awarded a Military Cross after the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. He studied at the Royal College of Art from 1919-1920 where Édouard Lantéri was one of his tutors. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1938, and taught at St Martin's School of Art from c1944. Marsden designed a number of war memorials, mainly in Lancashire, including those at Bolton, Heywood and his native village of Church.

The Scottish architect Thomas Smith Tait (1882-1954), who worked in the practice of Sir John Burnet, was a prominent figure in the rise of British modernism. He contributed to buildings such as the Kodak building in London, the Edward VII galleries at the British Museum and St Andrews House in Edinburgh. He designed several war memorials including the Great Western Railway memorial at Paddington (which includes sculpture by Charles Sergeant Jagger).


First World War memorial, erected in 1924 by Lord Ashton.

MATERIALS: bronze sculpture on granite cenotaph.

DESCRIPTION: the memorial stands on a platform at the south-west of Ashton Gardens (laid out 1914-16). It is constructed in white granite with bronze reliefs and statuary and consists of a tall pylon on a stepped pedestal and plinth. The pylon has slightly raised panels to each face and is surmounted by a hemisphere upon which stands a bronze female figure in a classical robe with arms raised.

Projections on the sides of the pedestal support over-life size bronze statues. On the left is an infantryman seated but alert, grasping his rifle by the muzzle (the latter inscribed ‘1923 W.Marsden’), his head turned sideways and left fist clenched. Marsden is said to have stated that the figure was intended to convey the warning "They’re coming again!". On the right side, in contrast, a seated woman who has just been told of her husband’s death gazes ahead, unresponsive to the pleadings of the naked child on her lap.

The front (west) face of the pedestal has a rectangular bronze panel with raised lettering inscribed: 1914 : NAMES OF THE FALLEN : 1918, and has 170 names beneath, flanked on the left by relief figures of an airman and a seaman, and on the right by two infantrymen. The panel wraps around the left and right returns of the pedestal depicting, respectively, a nurse bandaging a soldier’s hand, and a departing soldier embracing his wife, their small daughter tugging her mother’s shawl. The rear face of the pedestal has a bronze panel, also wrapping around the sides, depicting a procession of soldiers returning from the battlefield, including stretcher-bearers, men carrying their wounded comrades, and a line of men blinded by gas. Dress, weaponry and equipment are illustrated in great detail.

The front and rear faces of the pylon have a plaque inscribed: IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO FELL 1939 – 1945, each with 64 names. A further plaque commemorates the dead of later conflicts.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Archer, G, The Glorious Dead: Figurative Sculpture of British First World War Memorials, (2009), 59, 85-87, 119, 129, 198-199, 274
Boorman, D, A Century of Remembrance: One Hundred Outstanding British War Memorials, (2005), 124-127
Curl, JS, Oxford Dictionary of Architecture, (2006), 760
Moriarty, C, 'The Absent Dead and Figurative First World War Memorials' in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, , Vol. 39, (1995), 7-40
'St Anne's War Memorial' in Lancashire Evening Post, , Vol. 11649, (13 October 1924), 6
'Lytham St Anne's' in Lancashire Evening Post, , Vol. 11674, (11 November 1924), 4
'Lord Ashton's £10000 Gift to St Annes' in Yorkshire Post, , Vol. 24111, (13 October 1924), 7
Imperial War Museum database register, accessed 28 February 2017 from
War Memorials Online database, accessed 28 February 2017 from


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

Images of England

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Date: 22 Aug 1999
Reference: IOE01/01659/23
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr G M Smith. Source Historic England Archive
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