Wayside Cross War Memorial east of the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation

Overview

Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1359595

Date first listed: 27-Feb-2002

Date of most recent amendment: 01-Dec-2017

Statutory Address: Wayside cross war memorial to the east of the RC Church of the Annunciation, Bath Road, Woodchester, Gloucestershire

Map

Ordnance survey map of Wayside Cross War Memorial east of the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation
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Location

Statutory Address: Wayside cross war memorial to the east of the RC Church of the Annunciation, Bath Road, Woodchester, Gloucestershire

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

County: Gloucestershire

District: Stroud (District Authority)

Parish: Woodchester

National Grid Reference: SO8426801075

Summary

A First World War memorial in the form of a wayside cross, dedicated in 1917.

Reasons for Designation

The wayside cross war memorial at Woodchester, erected in 1917, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:

* as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice it made in the conflicts of the C20; * for its relatively early date, as one of a group erected across the country before the end of the First World War.

Architectural interest:

* for its design, in particular the well-executed cruciform stone plinth with good quality inscriptions to the panels.

Group value:

* with the Grade I-listed Church of the Annunciation.

History

This war memorial is prominently located on a hillside below the Grade I-listed Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation, built in 1846-1847 to the designs of Charles Hansom as a church for the Dominican Priory at Woodchester. The Priory was responsible for the memorial's erection in 1917. The memorial was conceived by Father Hugh Pope, Prior of Woodchester, in 1915, following the deaths of Maurice Dease and George Archer-Shee (see below). Father Hugh wanted a tangible way to commemorate their deaths, and that of the garden boy from the Priory, Jack Quinn, who died in conflict shortly after. He felt that a wayside cross like those set up as shrines in contintental Europe would be a suitable memorial, set up on the high ground by the roadside below the priory. The memorial was funded by public subscriptions from members of all faiths and classes from across the Stroud valleys, with contributions from subscribers across the country and others from elsewhere in the world. By July 1916 an initial £100 had been collected, and the work was put in the hands of a sculptor. A figure intended for the memorial was carved in London, but was lost during the railway journey towards Woodchester. The memorial was completed in 1917 and was dedicated on 3 June 1917 by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Clifton, in front of a crowd of up to 5,000 people. The first service of remembrance was held at the cross on 4 August 1918, attended by various dignitaries including Cardinal Bourne, the then Catholic Primate.

Among those commemorated is George Archer-Shee, who went missing in action, presumed dead, on 31 October 1914 at the First Battle of Ypres, at the age of nineteen. Of particular historic note is the false accusation of theft and forgery that was made against him (relating to a five-shilling postal order), while a 13 year old cadet at the Royal Naval College at Osborne, which resulted in his expulsion in 1908. This eventually resulted in a sensational High Court case in July 1910, at which he was cleared of any wrongdoing. Substantial damages were eventually paid to Archer-Shee’s father, but only following a forced House of Commons debate. It has been claimed that the opposition to the granting of compensation was probably due in part to a prejudicial attitude to the Catholic faith of the family. The acquittal followed a successful defence mounted by Sir Edward Carson and became a cause célèbre for the protection of human rights (especially those of a minor) from harsh and unfair treatment by the establishment. The case was dramatised, and Archer-Shee himself immortalised, by Terence Rattigan in his play ‘The Winslow Boy’ in 1946, which was filmed by Anthony Asquith in 1948 starring Robert Donat. The play has been regularly produced ever since, and further television and film versions made.

Following the completion of his education at Stonyhurst College in 1912, George Archer-Shee travelled to America to work for Wall Street firm Fisk and Robinson. He returned to England in 1913 to enlist in the army, and on 3 May was commissioned into the Special Reserve of Officers as a Second Lieutenant with the Third Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment. A few days before Archer-Shee went missing in action at Ypres, Sir Edward Carson’s nephew, Francis E Robinson, fell on the same battlefield. Both are among those commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres, and Archer-Shee is included on the Roll of Honour at the Church of St Mary on the Quay, Bristol. Archer-Shee’s widowed mother and sister lived in Woodchester at the time of his death, in a house called Littleholme that has since been renamed Winslow House.

Maurice Dease (1889-1914), recipient of the first posthumously-awarded Victoria Cross, is also commemorated. Dease was decorated for his actions on 23 August 1914, at the Nimy Bridge at Mons in Belgium, which was being defended by a single company of the 4th Royal Fusiliers, and a machine-gun section with Dease in command. Under intense gunfire during which his company took heavy casualties, Dease continued firing on the enemy despite being repeatedly wounded. After his fifth wound, he was too badly injured to continue and was removed. The London Gazette reported the circumstances of his death: “Though two or three times badly wounded he continued to control the fire of his machine guns at Mons on 23rd Aug., until all his men were shot. He died of his wounds.” (London Gazette, 16 November 1914).

The other lives commemorated on the memorial were of local men of all classes and creeds, whose sacrifice was no less tragic than that of George Archer-Shee and Maurice Dease. Any local family could request the addition of a name, regardless of whether or not they were able to contribute to the cost of the memorial.

The Calvary portion of the memorial has been altered several times since its completion. The original figure of the crucified Christ was removed by the mid-C20, and replaced by another, much smaller, in the 1960s, donated by Newman Henders, a large manufacturer whose factory was situated on the opposite side of the road from the cross. This figure was lost by the 1990s, together with the canopy over the timber cross, whose arms have also been shortened in length. The place of the figure was taken by a ceramic floral wreath in the late C20. From 2014-2017, the stone elements were repaired, and the inscriptions recut. The repaired memorial was re-dedicated by Bishop Declan of Clifton on 10 June 2017 to mark the centenary of its original dedication, in a service attended by the Princess Royal and other local dignitaries.

Details

A First World War memorial in the form of a wayside cross, dedicated in 1917.

MATERIALS: limestone for the plinth, with a timber cross.

PLAN: the plinth is aligned as a cross with equal length arms.

DESCRIPTION: the memorial stands on a terrace on steeply sloping land below the Church of the Annunciation, the last remaining element of the former Priory at Woodchester. It takes the form of a timber wayside cross, set at the centre of a stone plinth aligned as a cross. The latter is built of coursed limestone rubble with ashlar coping, with the names of the fallen inscribed on ashlar panels to each face of the walls. A flight of steps leads down to a path, the later C20 wooden gate onto Bath Road having ashlar piers extending to stone-coped rubble dwarf walls and similar outer piers.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 488458

Legacy System: LBS

Sources

Books and journals
Goodwin, P, The Story of the Wayside Cross at Woodchester , (2017)
Websites
20750 Woodchester Wayside Cross at UK War Memorials , accessed 25.10.2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/20750
War Memorials Online Database, Woodchester wayside cross WMO103309 , accessed 17 November 2017 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/103309/
Woodchester wayside cross, accessed 25 October 2017 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/103309/
Other
The Architectural History Practice Limited: Churches in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Clifton: An Architectural and Historical Review, prepared for The Diocese of Clifton and Historic England (January 2016)

End of official listing