First World War memorial by Richard Goulden, unveiled 5 November 1924, with Second World War additions.
Reasons for Designation
People of Dover War Memorial, situated within the Garden of Remembrance outside Dover Town Hall, Biggin Street, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this community, and the sacrifices it made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Sculptural interest: designed by Richard Goulden, a talented sculptor who was born and trained in Dover and who had served during the First World War; it is a moving and highly accomplished work;
* Design: as a fine example of an allegorical figure of Youth, in this case based on a 1908 design for a fountain at Pittencrieff House, Dunfermline, who overcomes the difficulties in their path (thorns) to achieve victory (an upheld crucifix);
* Group value: with the Town Hall and Maison Dieu House (Grade II* and scheduled monument).
Dover Town Council formed a sub-committee to deal with the question of having an outdoor memorial in the town centre. The Committee held meetings from 7 May 1920 onwards and amongst the ideas they considered were having a cenotaph or other monument, a replica section of the Zeebrugge mole, a Maternity Home, an oak screen in front of the Maison Dieu House, stained glass windows in the Maison Dieu House, or a Zeebrugge bell overhanging the pavement at the Maison Dieu House. After a year considering the ideas, estimates for costs, and locations, they proposed a shrine at the Maison Dieu House that would contain a book of remembrance with the names of all the fallen of Dover, rather than an outdoor monument. By that point, £300 had been raised.
By July 1922 the Town Clerk was compiling the list of names and appealed for the public to submit records of their relatives to be included, including what their connection to Dover was. The first meeting to which the public were invited was not called until 29 November 1922. Two Dover artists were contacted because of their connection with the town. One of these was Richard Reginald Goulden (1876-1932), who said he would submit a design free of charge.
Goulden was born in Dover. He studied at the Dover School of Art and then took architecture and sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London, and was a student of Professor Lanteri. Much of his work was in fountains, statuary, relief panels and busts. He exhibited at the Royal Academy 1903-32. He was chosen to produce the figure of G F Watts for the Exhibition Road and Cromwell Roads façades of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Of his notable public memorials is the Mrs Ramsay MacDonald memorial seat at Lincoln’s Inn Fields c 1911. In 1914 he produced the statue of Andrew Carnegie, Dunfermline, Fife. Goulden enlisted in 1914 and served on the Western Front with the Second London Division Royal Engineers, being promoted to the rank of Captain in 1916. He was invalided back to the UK and after serving in a staff post in London in 1918 was discharged in July 1919. Following the war, Goulden produced a number of sculptural war memorials, including prestigious commissions for the Bank of England (1921), Middlesex Guildhall and Hornsey County School (1922), as well as for Gateshead, (1922), Dover Maison Dieu House (1924), and Brightlingsea. His architectural as well as sculptural skills, in addition to his Royal Engineers training enabled him to design both the sculptures and pedestals of his memorials, as well as to survey and lay out sites ready for their erection.
It took until 15 February 1924 for the Committee to arrange a public meeting to receive designs and estimates. The Committee had advertised for designs and presented 13 at the meeting. These included submission from Miss Margaret Winser, Wentworth Studios Chelsea and The Craftsmen’s Guild, London. There had been dissatisfaction with the delay in getting the memorial, and some subscriptions were already being retracted. There was particularly heated debate surrounding suggestions to abandon the monument scheme in favour of building a maternity home. The Committee decided they would not be able to raise anything like enough funds to establish and maintain this (a lot of money had already been raised locally for the Dover Patrol memorial), so they pressed ahead with the monument project. It was Goulden’s design that was eventually approved. In June 1924 Goulden presented a model of the memorial for public inspection. When this was reported in the local press, it was described as showing 'the figure of a youth, representing ‘sacrifice’ reaching up to grasp a cross, which is involved in flames'.
There is common imagery in many of Goulden's memorials; they often feature a flaming cross or torch, thorns, and the figure of an adult and a child. In the case of the People of Dover memorial, there is a single figure of a child, representing Youth. The figure is taken from a sculpture Goulden designed as the centrepiece of a fountain at Pittencrieff House, Dunfermline in 1908; the house had recently been bought by Andrew Carnegie and at this time Goulden was working as Art Adviser to the Carnegie Trust. In the original sculpture the figure of Youth reaches for a winged laurel wreath, the name of the work is 'Let Noble Ambition be the Thirst of Youth Always'. The Dover figure, however, holds a crucifix, and has thorns encircling his feet. Goulden's widow believed the figure of Youth to be one of his best works, and after Goulden's death it became a memorial to its creator; a version of the sculpture stands at the entrance to Newhaven Cemetery, where Goulden is buried. Several other versions of the sculpture are believed to exist in private ownership.
The Committee was keen to make up for lost time. Fortunately, Goulden’s previous work on other war memorials, such as those at Kingston upon Thames, Malvern and Reigate and Redhill (all 1923), gave him realistic ides about the requirements (and already some moulds that could be used). Goulden was keen to have the finalised list of names so that he could size up the grey granite that would be needed to accommodate them, otherwise work could not begin. The Committee was concerned about late submission of names for inclusion.
The idea of a monument in a busy place, where gardens could be established around it, and which would not have a heavily vertical character so as to stay in keeping with the Maison Dieu Hall, appealed strongly to the Committee. They also wished to place a book of remembrance in the Town Hall that would carry the names.
By October 1924, preparing for the unveiling, the Committee announced in the local press that relatives of the fallen could request reserved seats. They also hoped that all Dover returned prisoners of war would attend. It was unveiled 5 November 1924 by Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes and dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Goulden’s fee was £1,200 but the full amount was still not raised by October 1925 and he was still owed £10. By November 1924, he was also being asked to consider how to add 50 or more names to the memorial, names that had been put forward by people who said they did not read the newspapers and thus been excluded from the compilation process. It was suggested that a plaque could be added to back of pedestal if money could be raised. Sir Edward Farley further suggested an interpretive plaque about the meaning of the sculpture should be made.
This would not happen until 1934. Goulden’s untimely death had occurred in 1932, and so it was his widow, who was a painter and illustrator, who designed the panel to carry the 70 extra names that were confirmed.
Names of those who fell in the Second World War were subsequently added, and a re-dedication was held on 6 November 1949 by local clergy and dignitaries.
In total it carries 782 First World War names and 21 Second World War names. Since 2009 new plaques have been added with further names.
The memorial stands within a Garden of Remembrance outside Maison Dieu House, Biggin Street near the junction with High Street and Effingham Crescent. It consists of a bronze figure atop a Cornish grey granite pedestal bearing bronze reliefs on three sides and principal inscription, along with low flanking walls bearing names. The whole is set atop a stepped plinth and base.
The memorial takes the form of a bronze sculpture of a life-size young boy representing Youth, standing with his arms stretched upwards and holding a flaming cross in his right hand; at his feet is a ring of thorns. The pedestal has the Arms of the Borough in bronze relief on the front face, below which is the principal inscription, in applied bronze lettering which reads: TO THE GLORIOUS/ MEMORY OF THE/ PEOPLE OF DOVER/ WHO GAVE THEIR/ LIVES FOR THEIR/ COUNTRY IN THE/ GREAT WARS/ 1914-1919 – 1939-1945.
The sides of the pedestal bear bronze wreaths. The back of the pedestal bears the additional First World War plaque that was added in 1934, as well as the small Second World War plaque added in 1949.
The low flanking walls carry a 4.2m long roll of honour of First World War names. The 0.45m tall plinth is 4.5m long and has sunken integral flower holders. An additional step with interpretive plaque was added at the foot of the plinth at the back of the memorial.
Under the bronze relief below the statue on the front of plinth is inscribed: VILLE ET PORTUS DOVOR.
There is a further stone with a dedication in the flower beds which reads: THIS MEMORIAL/ WAS ERECTED BY PUBLIC/ SUBSCRIPTION FUNDS/ COLLECTED FOR DOVER/ PRISONERS OF WAR BEING/ ALSO GIVEN AS A THANK/ OFFERING BY THOSE WHO/ RETURNED SAFELY.
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, 5 December 2016.