First World War memorial to soldiers of the Royal Berkshire Regiment by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, 1921, with later inscriptions.
Reasons for Designation
The Royal Berkshire Regiment Cenotaph, situated at Brock Barracks, Reading, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the service of the Royal Berkshire Regiment and the sacrifices it made in the conflicts of the C20;
* 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: a simple yet elegant stone cenotaph with painted stone flags, based on the Whitehall Cenotaph;
* Group value: with the adjacent buildings of Brock Barracks listed at Grade II.
The great wave of memorial building after the First World War resulted in thousands of commemorative monuments being raised both at home and on the battlefield. Lutyens was the most outstanding designer to work in this field. This is one of eight cenotaphs in England designed by Lutyens, and one of two that is a reduced scale copy of the cenotaph in Whitehall with minor changes (in this case, half-size). The earliest of Lutyens’ cenotaphs to be erected was that at Southampton, in 1920; the latest was that at Norwich, in 1927.
The Royal Berkshire Regiment decided at the outset that their First World War memorial should be a copy of the cenotaph in Whitehall and Lutyens was duly appointed as architect. It seems that he was happy to design to a reduced scale to fit the available budget, in contrast to his approach to his Stone of Remembrance which, he insisted, could never be reduced in size.
The Royal Berkshire Regiment memorial exhibits minor changes to the Whitehall cenotaph, with the addition of an urn on the top and painted stone flags on either side. The form of the urn was also used by Lutyens for the gate piers of the Arch of Remembrance, Leicester. Including the four copies of the original abroad, the Royal Berkshire Regiment memorial is the only cenotaph that Lutyens designed that included the stone flags of his original proposal (and strong preference) for Whitehall, albeit that there is one flag on each side instead of three.
The estimated cost of the memorial was £2,500 but an extra £500 had to be raised to cover increased prices. The memorial was built by Messrs GE Wallis and Sons Ltd of London and Maidstone and the carving was undertaken by Eric R Broadbent (1896-1965). The memorial was unveiled on 13 September 1921 by Major General ET Dickson, the Regiment’s Colonel. It was relocated a few metres from its original site alongside the Keep of the Barracks before 1932, when it appears in its current position on the Ordnance Survey 1:2500 County Series map. Inscriptions commemorating the Regiment’s fallen of the Second World War were added at a later date.
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.
Eric R Broadbent (1896-1965) was the son of architectural sculptor Abraham Broadbent (c1868-1919). He served as a junior officer in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in the First World War. During the period 1921-5 he executed most of the decorative work for Sir Edwin Lutyens' Britannic House, Finsbury Circus, London. His highest profile commission was 'Speed Wings over the World' for the main entrance of the BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) Terminal, Buckingham Palace Road, London, in c1939.
MATERIALS: Portland stone.
DESCRIPTION: the memorial stands on a rectangular stone platform of three steps, in a lawned area in Brock Barracks. At the top is a plain tomb chest with a moulded cover, on which stands a stone urn raised on four pillars. The tomb stands on a three-staged base, which in turn stands on a shaft, set back towards its upper section. Beneath is the two-stage base, with cyma recta moulding to the foot of the shaft.
The cenotaph is sparsely enriched. On either end, at the upper sides of the shaft, are carved stone bosses with laurels suspended by stone fillets. Two large painted stone flags with laurel wreaths encircling the top of each flagpole and laurel swags are mounted to each side of the memorial. On the west side, the King’s Colour and on the east, the Regimental Colour. A niche within the north side of the memorial contains the names of the fallen.
The inscriptions on the north side of the memorial read (above the wreath) MCMXIV/ +/ MCMXVIII and (below the wreath) TO THE/ MEMORY OF/ OFFICERS/ WARRANT OFFICERS/ NON-COMMISSIONED/ OFFICERS AND MEN/ OF THE/ ROYAL BERKSHIRE/ REGIMENT.
Those on the south side (below the wreath) read THIS MEMORIAL/ WAS ERECTED BY/ PAST AND PRESENT OFFICERS/ AND MEN OF/ THE ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT/ AND THEIR RELATIVES/ IN MEMORY OF/ THE 353 OFFICERS AND/ 6375 OTHER RANKS OF/ THE REGIMENT/ WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR/ 1914 – 1918/ RE-DEDICATED/ TO THE MEMORY OF/ THE 93 OFFICERS AND/ 974 OTHER RANKS OF/ THE REGIMENT/ WHO FELL IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR/ 1939 – 1945.
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 January 2017.