War memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield. Dedicated in 1922. Flanking walls with inscriptions and walled enclosure added after the Second World War.
Reasons for Designation
Hampstead War Memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and dedicated in 1922, 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;
* Design: as an elegant and well-proportioned neo-classical Portland Stone obelisk;
* Designer: by Sir Reginald Blomfield, one of the principal architects appointed by the Imperial War Graves Commission and designer of the Cross of Sacrifice and the Menin Gate at Ypres, among many others;
* Setting: the memorial now stands in a prominent position on the highest point in London overlooking Hampstead Heath;
* Group value: the memorial has strong group value with Heath House (listed Grade II*), Jack Straw's Castle Public House and Old Court House (both listed Grade II).
The war memorial is situated some distance away from the centre of Hampstead village in a prominent position at the highest point in London (134.5m OD) overlooking Hampstead Heath. That Hampstead people chose this point for the siting of their war memorial reflects the importance of the Heath to the war and to Hampstead. The Heath was used for army recruitment meetings, patriotic speeches and training, mostly by volunteers from the local territorial units. Photographs show the Inns of Court Officers' Training Corps drilling on a snow-covered Heath, the Queen's Westminster Rifles digging practise trenches and units of the Royal Horse Artillery training in the Whitestone Pond. Volunteers from Hampstead formed the 183rd (Hampstead) Howitzer Brigade (Royal Field Artillery) and the 138th Heavy Battery (Royal Garrison Artillery) and much of their training took place on the Heath. At the end of the war, local Hampstead people celebrated both Armistice Day and Peace Day on the Heath.
The memorial originally commemorated those of the borough of Hampstead who gave their lives in the First World War. It was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield (1856-1942) who was one of the principal architects appointed by the Imperial War Graves Commission to superintend the design of cemeteries in France and Belgium, and he also contributed a standard feature, the Cross of Sacrifice, which was erected in most Commission sites. In addition, he was responsible for a memorial to the missing, the Menin Gate at Ypres (1922). He also designed the Belgian war memorial (1917) and the RAF memorial (1921), both in London. He lived at Frognal in Hampstead.
The memorial was unveiled by Major General Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend, (1861–1924), KCB, a British Indian Army officer who was later elected as Member of Parliament for The Wrekin, Shropshire. The unveiling ceremony was held on 4 May 1922 with the memorial dedicated by William Perrin, Bishop Suffragan of Willesden. Postcards from the 1920s show that the memorial originally comprised a stone obelisk on a three-stepped base surrounded by roads. The Ordnance Survey map of 1934 shows the memorial originally stood in a purpose-built traffic island at London's highest road junction; the memorial's design, resembling a Georgian wayside marker, may have been influenced by this location.
Later maps reveal that the memorial was moved slightly to the north, probably when the flanking and enclosure walls were added. The inscriptions on the flanking walls to either side of the memorial shows that these were added after the Second World War. The Second World War additions provide a more permanent setting for the memorial, and with their inscriptions, they add to the historic interest. The choice of a stanza from John Keats’ poem ‘To hope’ for one of the inscribed plaques is especially poignant. Keats lived at Hampstead and his house is now the Keats Museum.
The war memorial comprises a Portland stone obelisk set on an octagonal plinth and three-stepped base. The base is surrounded by a narrow planted border and grassed area, which is in turn enclosed by a semi-circular low red brick wall capped with stone and accessed by two sets of three steps either side.
At the rear of the memorial is a low red brick wall topped with iron railings which separates the memorial enclosure from Heath House (listed Grade II*) to the north. Attached either side of the wall are two short red brick flanking walls some 3m high which serve to frame the obelisk. Both of these contain stone plaques with inscriptions.
The inscription on the north face of the obelisk reads: TO THOSE OF/ THIS BOROUGH/ WHO GAVE/ THEIR LIVES/ IN THE/ GREAT WAR/1914–1918.
The inscription on the south or front of the obelisk is carved in high relief with the Coat of Arms beneath which is inscribed: BOROUGH/ OF/ HAMPSTEAD.
On the flanking wall to the west of the obelisk is a stone plaque carved with a laurel wreath, underneath which is inscribed: 1914-1918/ 1939-1945/ IN THE LONG VISTA OF THE YEARS TO ROLL,/ LET ME NOT SEE OUR COUNTRY'S HONOUR FADE:/ O LET ME SEE OUR LAND RETAIN HER SOUL,/ HER PRIDE: HER FREEDOM: AND NOT FREEDOM'S SHADE./ KEATS.
On the flanking wall to the east of the obelisk is a stone plaque inscribed with Hampstead’s Coat of Arms with its motto ‘NON SIBI SED TOTI’ meaning ‘not for one self but for all’ while underneath is inscribed: THIS MONUMENT/ WAS HERE SET UP/ TO CALL TO MEMORY/ THE MEN AND WOMEN OF/ HAMPSTEAD/ WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES/ FOR THEIR COUNTRY/ IN TWO GREAT WARS.
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, 9 February 2017.