Memorial cross (at Fargo Plantation) and field plaque (at SU13784399) unveiled in 1914, commemorating the death in a flying accident of Major Alexander Hewetson in 1913.
Reasons for Designation
The Hewetson Memorial Cross and Plaque, located between Stonehenge and the Royal Artillery Garrison, Larkhill, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: a relatively rare memorial erected in 1913 to commemorate the historically significant event of a flying accident that killed a pioneer aviator shortly after the formation of Britain's first military flying corps;
* Architectural interest: a tall and imposing Celtic cross, with accompanying field plaque, in the environs of the crash site;
* Group value: both elements of the memorial are within the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site and in proximity with designated military structures including the Grade II*-listed Buildings 455 And 456 (Five Aircraft Hangars), Durrington Camp, and Airmen’s Cross (Grade II).
Although the British Army’s Royal Engineers Balloon Section had been practicing lighter-than-air flight on Salisbury Plain for some years, the first heavier-than-air flying experiments at Larkhill, immediately to the north of Stonehenge, were conducted by The Aeronautical Syndicate Ltd in March 1910. From July 1910 the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd started testing its Bristol Boxkite, based in sheds that the firm built at Larkhill. Influenced by these commercial enterprises and the success of flying at the Army Manoeuvres of September 1910, the British Government established an Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers in 1911, with No2 Air Company based at Larkhill, followed by the formation of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912.
The Bristol and Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd was still present at Larkhill and had been training pilots since 1910 at its flying school. Major Alexander Hewetson, 66th Battery Royal Field Artillery (Indian Army), was one of the school’s pupils, learning to fly during a period of leave in the Summer of 1913. He had completed his course of instruction but during his examination flight on 17 July 1913 he took a very sharp banking turn from which he could not recover, and crashed near to Fargo. Hewetson died on impact, the first fatality of a pupil under test for the aviator’s certificate. He was 44.
Hewetson was buried at Deansgrange Cemetery, Rathbeg (Dublin). One year after the accident a memorial cross, provided by W Green of Tisbury, was raised at the (former) roadside, close to the south-east corner of Fargo Plantation. A stone plaque was also laid marking, as close as possible, the crash site in the field to the north-east. The memorial was unveiled on 14 April 1914 by General Sir Horace Smith-Dorien at a ceremony attended by family members and senior Army officers.
The inscription on the memorial cross was covered by a new slate tablet, and the field plaque was re-fenced, in 1997: they were re-dedicated on 6 October that year at a ceremony led by Garrison Chaplain Reverend Mark Jones. In 2013 the memorial cross was refurbished by a team of volunteers from the Wings Over Stonehenge Project, with the Royal Artillery Garrison and other organisations, in time for the centenary of Hewetson’s death. In 2014 the field plaque was moved by the volunteer team from its original, inaccessible, location to a place at the field edge: it was re-dedicated in December 2014 by Garrison Chaplain Gavin Smith.
This record comprises a free-standing memorial cross, close to Stonehenge, and a separate field plaque to the north-east of the cross, positioned to the south of The Packway, and in the environs of the Larkhill Garrison.
The memorial cross stands on the north side of the ex-A344 at the south-east corner of Fargo Plantation, on land bought for the National Trust by national appeal and given on 10 June 1929. It is c1.3km to the east of Airmen’s Cross, the Grade II-listed memorial to Captain Eustace Loraine and Staff Sergeant Richard Wilson who were killed in a flying accident on 5 July 1912. Hewetson’s memorial takes the form of a tall stone Celtic cross with hemispherical bosses on each cross arm and at the centre of the wheel-head. The cross rises from a plinth, square on plan, which stands on the two-stepped base. The memorial is surrounded by a small square area, kerbed and surfaced with gravel.
The inscription, incised into a slate tablet on the front face of the plinth, reads IN MEMORY/ OF/ MAJOR ALEXANDER WILLIAM HEWETSON/ 66TH BATTERY ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY/ WHO WAS KILLED WHILST FLYING/ ON THE 17TH JULY 1913 NEAR THIS SPOT.
The memorial plaque is positioned beside the bridleway south of The Packway, c300m south-east of the Church of St Alban the Martyr (Grade II), on Ministry of Defence land, and c650m to the north-west of the Grade II*-listed Buildings 455 And 456 (Five Aircraft Hangars), Durrington Camp. A depiction of the memorial cross c2.8km to the south-west is carved in low relief on the upper section of the field plaque, with below a tablet that replicates the cross’s dedicatory inscription.