First World War memorial to the members of the Civil Service Rifles by Sir Edwin Lutyens, 1924.
Reasons for Designation
The Civil Service Rifles War Memorial, Somerset House, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the contribution of the 15th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment, in the First World War;
* Architect: by the nationally renowned architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (1869-1944), who designed 58 memorials at home and abroad including the Cenotaph in Whitehall;
* Design quality: an elegant column with two painted stone flags;
* Group value: with the Grade I-listed Somerset House and King’s College Old Building.
The Civil Service Rifles (more properly known as the 15th (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment (Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles) was raised from the members of the Civil Service, for which Somerset House had originally been built. The Committee on Sites for Monuments suggested that the memorial should be located in the entry to Somerset House’s central quadrangle, behind the statue of Neptune. When Lutyens visited the site, however, he suggested that a location in the centre of the quadrangle would be more appropriate. The choice of site was particularly apt because the quadrangle had acted as the parade and drill ground for the regiment.
The memorial was built by Nine Elms Stone Masonry Works. Commemorating the 1,240 servicemen from the battalion who fell during the First World War, it was unveiled by the Prince of Wales, the regiment’s Honorary Colonel, on 27 January 1924. Past and present members of the regiment and relatives of the fallen attended the ceremony, at which a guard of honour was formed by the two Civil Service Companies of the regiment. The memorial, including a roll of honour placed inside the column, was dedicated by Rev EH Beattie, chaplain to 1st Civil Service Rifles in France and Flanders.
Following a decision to refurbish the quadrangle and install fountains, the memorial was moved to the riverside terrace in front of the Navy Treasurer’s door. It was re-dedicated on 25 July 2002. The flags either side of the central column, which were originally executed in copper, have been replaced with carved stone.
Sir Edwin Lutyens OM RA (1869-1944) was the leading English architect of his generation. Before the First World War his reputation rested on his country houses and his work at New Delhi, but during and after the war he became the pre-eminent architect for war memorials in England, France and the British Empire. While the Cenotaph in Whitehall (London) had the most influence on other war memorials, the Thiepval Arch (a memorial to the Somme in Thiepval, France) was the most influential on other forms of architecture. He designed the Stone of Remembrance which was placed in all Imperial War Graves Commission cemeteries and in some cemeteries in England, including some with which he was not otherwise associated.
MATERIALS: Portland stone with painted stone flags.
DESCRIPTION: the memorial comprises a square column, c4.9m tall, with a shallow cornice on which stands a plinth and urn. The plinth is decorated with laurel leaf swags and panels bearing the inscriptions MCM/ XIV and MCM/ XIX. The column stands on a square, undercut, plinth which itself stands on a platform of two steps. Painted stone flags are raised on either side of the memorial. That to the west is the Union Flag; that to the east, the regimental colours.
The inscriptions are incised into the faces of the column:
(south face) IN MEMORY/ OF THE/ 1240 MEMBERS/ WHO FELL/ WHILE SERVING/ WITH/ THE REGIMENT/ IN/ THE GREAT WAR/ THEIR NAMES/ ARE RECORDED/ ON A SCROLL/ PLACED WITHIN/ THIS COLUMN/ ALSO IN MEMORY/ OF MEMBERS OF/ THE CIVIL SERVICE/ CADET BATTALION
(north face) THIS COLUMN/ WAS ERECTED/ BY THE 15TH/ COUNTY/ OF LONDON/ BATTALION/ THE LONDON/ REGIMENT/ PRINCE OF WALES/ OWN/ CIVIL SERVICE/ RIFLES
Battle honours are inscribed into the face of the upper edge of the undercut plinth:
(south face) FESTUBERT 1915 LOOS SOMME 1916 1918 FLERS COURCELETTE
(west face) DOIRAN 1917 LYS KEMMEL GAZA NEBI SAMWIL JERUSALEM
(north face) ST QUENTIN ALBERT 1918 ANCRE 1918 BAUPAUME 1918 SELLE
(east face) TRANSLOY MESSINES 1917 1918 YPRES 1917 1918 CAMBRAI 1917
The memorial stands on the riverside terrace of Somerset House, overlooking the Victoria Embankment.
This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 10 February 2017.