War Memorial Hall for the benefit of the people of Gerrards Cross, 1922, by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens.
Reasons for Designation
Gerrards Cross Memorial Building, situated on East Common, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impacts of world events on this community, 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. This is his only memorial which is also a community facility;
* Architectural interest: an elegant pavilion, its front elevation combining the English vernacular and classical traditions, with a handsome war memorial plaque;
* Group value: with the Grade II-listed Gerrards Cross Memorial Centre alongside.
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. Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (1869-1944) was the most outstanding designer to work in this field.
What was originally called the War Memorial Hall, now the Gerrards Cross Memorial Building, was adapted in 1922 by Lutyens from the stables of the C18 vicarage alongside (now the Grade II-listed Gerrards Cross Memorial Centre). The instigator was the vicar, the Reverend John Matthew Glubb, who wished for a memorial which would serve the needs of local ex-Servicemen, and the wider community. He offered the use of the vicarage’s stables, and its north lodge.
A community association was formed to further the aim of establishing a ‘Community Centre which shall be a war memorial... to be called the Gerrards Cross Centre.’ Originally with a billiards room, a club room, a women's room and a kitchen, with tennis courts outside, the overall cost of the conversion was c£3,500. The Centre was opened on 14 October 1922 by the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Earl Carrington.
Lutyens' drawings of June 1921 for the 'Gerrards Cross Men's Club and Institute' show that the west elevation was executed as designed, except for doors intended to lead from the portico directly into a central Games Room. The back wall of the stable block was to have been removed, replaced by a trussed purlin supported by Tuscan half columns, extending the space of the Games Room to the rear; in the event this was not carried out and the attic storey was retained.
Internal divisions within the ground floor were later removed to create a larger meeting space. The building remains in active use, and is the HQ of the local branch of the Royal British Legion.
The adjacent vicarage was purchased from the Church of England to be a Second World War memorial. In 1947 the Gerrards Cross Community Association was formed with the object of promoting the well-being of the local community. In that year a memorial plaque commemorating the fallen of both the First and Second World Wars, designed by Edmund Ware, was installed in the verandah of the Memorial Hall. This plaque replaced an earlier First World War tablet.
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.
Edmund Ware (1883-1960), sculptor, specialised before the First World War in jewellery and medal designs. From 1905 he taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, providing classes in a range of skills required for designing and working gold and silver including modelling and engraving. From the 1930s he concentrated on stone carving and was Vice-President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors from 1948-1953.
MATERIALS: Red brick, mostly painted white, with a slate roof. Painted sandstone columns to front.
DESCRIPTION: The War Memorial Building stands on the east side of East Common, next to the Gerrards Cross Memorial Centre (Grade II). Set back from the road, it has a shallow U-plan, with a central hall and a wing to either side projecting to the rear. Long, swept, slate roofs give uniformity and a pleasing profile. From the front and sides it appears a single-storey building, whereas to the rear, where the roof is much shorter, it can be seen that the hall has rooms at first-floor level.
The windows are mainly wooden sashes, to the front six-over-six paned. To the front the space between the wings is formed by a columned portico in antis, with four bellied Tuscan columns. The columns are thought to be of cast stone, and are painted white. A door to either end of the quarry-tiled portico gives access to the side wings. The south elevation is largely given over to windows and a door with considerably more glazing than shown in the original plans.
The portico shelters a tall stone memorial plaque headed with Buckinghamshire county’s pre-1948 arms carved in relief and painted. The main panel below is inscribed IN HONOURED MEMORY OF THOSE FROM GERRARDS CROSS/ WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WARS/ 1914 – 1918 (20 NAMES) 1939 – 1945 (35 NAMES). A gilded inverted sword divides the names into two columns. Beneath is inscribed THEIR NAMES LIVETH FOR EVERMORE. The dedicatory inscriptions are incised and painted red, the names are incised and painted blue. A shallow stone shelf at the base of the plaque provides a raised surface for floral tributes.
The interior of the ground floor (not inspected) appears to have been largely stripped out to open up the available meeting space, in order to accommodate keep-fit equipment, a rear lobby entrance, and a cafe.
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, 11 January 2017.