First World War memorial with later additions for the Second World War.
Reasons for Designation
The war memorial at St George’s Church, Ramsgate, which stands in the churchyard, 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 local community, and the sacrifice it has made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Architectural interest: an imposing and well-executed memorial cross;
* Group value: with the Church of St George (Grade I) and the Gates and Railings to Churchyard of St George (Grade II) and a number of structures in the churchyard listed at Grade II.
The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials erected across England. One such memorial was raised outside the west door of the Church of St George in Ramsgate as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community, who lost their lives in the First World War. As well as those servicemen from Ramsgate who fell in that conflict – including a number of Merchant Marine and seamen of the Dover Patrol – the memorial cross commemorates the servicemen and women, and civilians, of Ramsgate who died during the Second World War.
The memorial was designed by Sir Herbert Baker FRIBA RA. In his early work for the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission Baker made a proposal for a cross to stand in all of the Commission’s cemeteries, but a design by Sir Reginald Blomfield was chosen. Although the Commission’s architects were free to use crosses of their own choice within the cemeteries that they designed, the Blomfield cross proved to be the universal choice. Baker, nevertheless, used variants of his cross design for a number of English war memorials, including that at Ramsgate.
Sir Herbert Baker FRIBA RA (1862-1946) was born, and died, in Cobham, his English home. Articled to Arthur Baker in 1881, he was Assistant to Messrs Ernest George and Peto (1886-90) and attended the Royal Academy Schools. During the 1890s he was in South Africa, designing the Prime Ministerial residence ‘Groote Schuur’ and many private residences as well as government buildings following the South African union. From 1912 he collaborated with Sir Edwin Lutyens in India on New Dehli. From 1917 to 1928 Baker was one of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission principal architects, for whom he designed 113 cemeteries on the Western Front including Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. He was also responsible for four Memorials to the Missing including those to the South Africans at Delville Wood and the Indians at Neuve Chapelle. He designed twenty-four war memorials in England. During the inter-war years his work at home included South Africa House (Grade II*), Rhodes House (Grade II*) and, his last major public commission, the Bank of England (Grade I).
The war memorial stands outside the west door of the Church of St George (Grade I), and is approached through the ornamental churchyard gates (Grade II) from Church Hill. It comprises a tall stone cross with a blind wheel-head. The octagonal cross shaft rises from a drum-like, octagonal, plinth. The plinth stands on a low base, that stands on a broad octagonal dias of four steps.
The front face of the cross is ornamented with a reversed sword carved in relief. Carved in relief at the foot of the shaft is a three-masted man o’ war with billowing sails. On the rear of the cross, carved in the wheel-head, is the figure of St George mounted on a rearing horse and thrusting his spear into a dragon.
Around the top of the plinth, carved in relief, is the scripture from John 12.32, reading + I • IF I BE LIFTED UP FROM THE EARTH • WILL DRAW ALL MEN UNTO ME. The principal dedication on the front face of the plinth reads TO THE MEN OF/ RAMSGATE WHO/ DIED GLORIOUSLY/ IN THE GREAT/ WAR 1914-1919/ TRUE LOVE BY LIFE/ TRUE LOVE BY DEATH IS TRIED/ LIVE THOU FOR ENGLAND/ WE FOR ENGLAND DIED. To the left, the inscription for the Second World War servicemen and women reads IN REMEMBRANCE OF/ THE RAMSGATE MEN & WOMEN/ IN THE SERVICES/ WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES/ 1939 – 1945. To the right, the inscription for civilians reads IN REMEMBRANCE OF/ ALL WHO LOST THEIR LIVES/ IN RAMSGATE/ THROUGH ENEMY ACTION/ 1939 – 1945. On the rear of the plinth is carved IN MANUS/ TUAS/ DOMINE.
This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 30 November 2016.
This List entry was subject to a Minor Enhancement on 10/05/2017