Norman Cross Memorial

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1222028
Date first listed:
16-Nov-1988
Date of most recent amendment:
22-Nov-2017
Location Description:
London Road, Yaxley

Map

Ordnance survey map of Norman Cross Memorial
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Location

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

Location Description:
London Road, Yaxley
County:
Cambridgeshire
District:
Huntingdonshire (District Authority)
Parish:
Yaxley
National Grid Reference:
TL1611190921

Summary

Memorial column and sculpture presented in 1914 by the Entente Cordiale Society in commemoration of the prisoners of France and her Allies who died while interned at the Norman Cross Depot for Prisoners of War. It was designed by HP Cart de Lafontaine and originally surmounted by a bronze sculpture of a French Imperial Eagle by JA Stevenson. In 1990 the column was toppled and the sculpture stolen. The column was re-erected on its present site in 1998 and a replacement sculpture by John Doubleday was installed in 2005.

Reasons for Designation

The Norman Cross Memorial, erected in 1914 to designs by HP Cart de Lafontaine, and re-erected in its current location in 1998, with a new sculpture added in 2005 by John Doubleday, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as an elegant and impressive composition formed of an unfluted Roman Doric column surmounted by a bronze statue of a French Imperial Eagle.

Historic interest:

* it is an important and rare example of a monument commemorating the 1,700 prisoners of France and her Allies who died while interned at the Norman Cross Depot for Prisoners of War between 1803 and 1814; * as a rare and unique example of a memorial which was raised by one nation to the honoured memory of those who fought against her.

Group value:

* with the earthwork and buried remains of the Norman Cross Depot for Prisoner of War Camp (scheduled) along with the former houses of the Depot's barrack master (now two private dwellings known as the Old Governors House and the Barrack Masters Lodge) and that of the agent/superintendent (now a private dwelling known as Norman House), both Grade II-listed.

History

The Norman Cross Depot for Prisoners of War opened in April 1797 as the first purpose-built prison for French prisoners of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815). It occupied a 15ha site of former agricultural land in the angle formed where the Great North Road (now the A1(M)) was joined, five miles from Peterborough, by the old coach road from Boston and East Lincolnshire (now the A15). By the time of its closure in 1814 some 30,000 servicemen had been held there. Two years later, in 1816, the site was sold and the buildings demolished, with the land reverting back to agricultural use. Over the course of the Depot’s life some 1,770 prisoners of all nationalities, but mainly French and Dutch, died there. A major typhoid epidemic in 1800-1801 claimed 1,020 lives. Trial trenching of the prison site in 2009 by Wessex Archaeology, on behalf of Channel 4’s Time Team, revealed that most prisoners were buried on the north and east sides of the camp, immediately outside its defences, in both single and multiple-occupancy graves.

On 19 July 1914, ten years after the Entente Cordiale, a memorial was unveiled at Norman Cross to commemorate the prisoners who died at the depot. Instigated by the Entente Cordiale Society, the memorial took the form of an unfluted Roman Doric column surmounted by a bronze sculpture of a French Imperial Eagle; the eagle was the symbol of Napoleon’s Grande Armée and was carried into battle as a standard during the Napoleonic Wars. It was located on the east side of the camp, around ¼ mile to the north of Norman Cross, and was designed by HP Cart de Lafontaine FRIBA (1884-1963), who trained at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and was articled to Guy Dawber in 1911. In 1914, the year the memorial was erected, he joined the 4th Royal Fusilier Battalion of the London Regiment which became the City of London Regiment. In 1919 he was appointed Inspector of Works for the Commonwealth Graves War Commission and designed the coloured and gilded gesso memorial tablets which were placed in French and Belgian Cathedrals. The eagle was sculpted by JA Stevenson RBS, ARCA (1881-1937) while the builder was J Thompson and Company of Peterborough.

In the autumn of 1990 the column was pulled down by thieves who sole the bronze eagle, which was never recovered. In 1991 an appeal was set up to raise funds to restore the memorial. It was spearheaded by Peterborough Museum, and included representatives from local parish councils, historical societies, sculpture societies and Le Souvenir Français (the French agency responsible for maintaining war memorials). The Norman Cross Eagle Appeal was formed with two objectives; the first was to restore the monument and replace the eagle while the second was to promote the story of the Norman Cross Prison Depot to a wider audience and to also draw attention to Peterborough Museum’s collection of craft items made by the prisoners during their internment. However, at the same time the appeal was launched, plans were being drawn up to upgrade the adjoining section of the Great North Road (A1) from a dual carriageway to a motorway. As the new road was to be built across the memorial's original location, a new site on which to re-erect it had also to be found. On 31 October 1998, the same day as the formal opening of the new motorway, the memorial’s stone column, along with an information board, were unveiled on a site adjacent to the camp’s south-west boundary corner, on the north side of the A15. Following the re-erection of the column efforts were then directed towards raising the necessary funds for a replacement bronze eagle. While donations were received from both individuals and organisations, the majority of the funding came from a grant awarded by the Local Heritage Initiative, a joint body established by the Countryside Agency, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the Nationwide Building Society, to help communities to investigate, explain and care for their local heritage. In 2004 the sculptor John Doubleday was commissioned to create the new sculpture, closely modelled on the original eagle. It was unveiled on 2 April 2005 by His Grace the Duke of Wellington. In 2006 a bronze plaque outlining the history of the memorial was fixed to the plinth.

Details

Memorial column and sculpture presented in 1914 by the Entente Cordiale Society in commemoration of the prisoners of France and her Allies who died while interned at the Norman Cross Depot for Prisoners of War. It was designed by HP Cart de Lafontaine and originally surmounted by a bronze sculpture of a French Imperial Eagle by JA Stevenson. In 1990 the column was toppled and the sculpture stolen. The column was re-erected on its present site in 1998 and a replacement sculpture by John Doubleday was installed in 2005.

MATERIALS: the base, pedestal and column are constructed from limestone while the sculpture is of bronze.

PLAN: it is square-on-plan and faces south-west across London Road (A15).

DESCRIPTION: the memorial stands on a small paved area at the north-east end of a short cul-de-sac off London Road, adjacent to the south-west boundary corner of the Norman Cross Depot for Prisoners of War (scheduled). It consists of a bronze sculpture of a French Imperial Eagle with it wings half-spread and its talons tightly gripping a rock. The sculpture stands upon the abacus to an unfluted Roman Doric column which rises from a tall plinth with inscriptions on all four sides. The abacus is ornamented with a Greek fret pattern while the column has paterae and fluting to the necking and a bead and reel fillet. Beneath the plinth is a three-stepped base of which the middle step replicates the plan form of the prison’s ditched boundary and its four recessed entrances. The inscription on the south-east side of the plinth is carved directly into the stone while the other three sides have bronze inscription plaques fixed to them, with the plaque on the north-east being added in 2006. The inscriptions read as follows;

South-east side: 'THIS MEMORIAL, / PRESENTED BY / THE ENTENTE CORDIALE SOCIETY / TO THE COUNTY OF / HUNTINGDON, / WAS UNVEILED/ BY THE RIGHT HON. / THE BARON WEARDALE / PRESIDENT OF THE SOCIETY/ XXVIII JULY/ MCMXIV'.

South-west side: 'IN MEMORIAM / THIS COLUMN / WAS ERECTED AD1914 TO THE MEMORY OF / ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED & SEVENTY / SOLDIERS AND SAILORS / NATIVES OR ALLIES OF FRANCE / TAKEN PRISONERS OF WAR DURING THE / REPUBLIC AND NAPOLEONIC WARS / WITH GREAT BRITAIN AD 1793 – 1814 / WHO DIED IN THE MILITARY DEPOT / AT NORMAN CROSS, WHICH FORMERLY / STOOD NEAR THIS SPOT, 1797-1814 / DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI / ERECTED BY / THE ENTENTE CORDIALE SOCIETY & OTHER FRIENDS / ON THE INITIATIVE OF THE LATE W H SANDS ESQ / HONORARY SECRETARY OF THE SOCIETY'.

North-east side: 'THE NORMAN CROSS MEMORIAL/ THIS MONUMENT ORIGINALLY STOOD NEARBY ON THE WEST SIDE / OF THE GREAT NORTH ROAD. IT WAS VANDALISED AND THE EAGLE / STOLEN IN 1990. / THE COLUMN WAS REASSEMBLED HERE AND REDEDICATED ON 31ST / OCTOBER 1998 BY THE RIGHT HON SIR BRIAN MAWHINNEY MP. THIS / REPLACEMENT EAGLE WAS SCULPTED BY JOHN DOUBLEDAY AND / INAUGURATED ON THE 2ND APRIL 2005 BY / HIS GRACE THE EIGHTH DUKE OF WELLINGTON / KG, LVO, OBE, MC, DL / THE MEMORIAL IS NOW IN THE CARE OF HUNTINGDONSHIRE DISTRICT / COUNCIL / THE NORMAN CROSS NAPOLEONIC PRISONER OF WAR DEPOT MEMORIAL TRUST / AND LE SOUVENIR FRANCAIS”.

North-west side: 'THE ENTENTE CORDIALE SOCIETY/ CHAIRMAN OF COUNCIL / A. BARTON KENT ESQ. / HONORARY SECRETARY / MRS W.H. SANDS / HON. TREASURERS OF MEMORIAL FUND / DR JAMES SCOTT- DR T.J. WALKER / ARCHITECT / H.P. CART DE LAFONTAINE / SCULPTOR BUILDERS / J.A. STEVENSON J. THOMPSON & CO'.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 5/12/2017.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number:
414062
Legacy System:
LBS

Sources

Books and journals
Page, W, Proby, G , The Victoria History of the County of Huntingdon, (1936), 31
Websites
Information on the Norman Cross Memorial from the Friends of Norman Cross website, accessed 16 August 2017 from https://www.friendsofnormancross.org.uk
Information on the Norman Cross Memorial from the Imperial War Museum's War Memorials Register, accessed 16 August 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/325
Information on the Norman Cross Memorial from War Memorials Online, accessed 16 August 2017 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/122132
Other
Peterborough and Hunts Standard, 1 August 1914
Peterborough Evening Telegraph, 4 April 2005
The Builder, 1 August 1913

Legal

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

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 01 May 2000
Reference: IOE01/01297/03
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr JM Webber. Source Historic England Archive
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