First World War memorial. 1920, by Eric Gill with design assistance from Desmond Chute.
Reasons for Designation
Harting War Memorial, situated at St Mary and St Gabriel churchyard, junction of The Street (B2146) and Cow Lane, South Harting, 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;
* Architectural interest: as one of the finest war memorials designed by the nationally renowned sculptor, Eric Gill, consisting of a slim-shafted cross, inspired by medieval crosses;
* Sculptural interest: as a distinctive and accomplished design featuring high quality low-relief carvings of patron saints around the lower shaft and highly accomplished lettering for the inscriptions;
* Design: as one of the finest examples of work by Gill that combined his skills in architecture, sculpture, and lettering, and was based upon the traditional medieval form of a cross;
* Group value: with the Grade I-listed St Mary and St Gabriel Church, Grade II-listed village stocks and whipping post, and several Grade-II listed buildings on The Street.
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, both as a result of the huge impact the loss of three quarters of a million British lives had on communities and the official policy of not repatriating the dead, which meant that the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss.
One such memorial was raised at South Harting as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War. The memorial was commissioned by Rev A J Roberts of South Harting in March 1919. Eric Gill and Desmond Chute (one of Gill’s assistants 1918-22) made drawings between March and August 1919, after which there was a delay in progress until July 1920, when a Faculty was sought and Gill produced a scale drawing for submission. Gill originally intended the reliefs within the design to depict the Crucifixion, entombments, resurrection and nativity, but the final design depicts the patron saints of England (St George), Ireland (St Patrick), Scotland (St Andrew) and Wales (St David) instead.
Gill very soon began drawing out onto the stone and working on the carving. In September 1920, Gill’s assistant, Hilary Stratton (apprentice to Gill during 1920-21), worked on cutting out the backgrounds to the saints, and Gill visited South Harting to view the site and to meet the memorial committee. The reliefs of patron saints were worked on at the end of 1920. The whole work took 34 days and cost £434 8s 11d (Collins 1998).
Eric Gill (1882-1940) was one of the most celebrated lettercutters, engravers, typographers and sculptors of his time. Before the First World War he built his reputation on his work as a lettercutter and engraver, but began to sculpt in 1909, preferring the unconventional direct carving style of practice. After the First World War he was commissioned to design war memorials including those at Bisham, Briantspuddle, Chirk, Leeds University and Trumpington. His work later included large architectural sculptures, including figures for the exterior of Broadcasting House and a large relief entitled The Creation of Adam at the League of Nations Palace, Geneva.
It is interesting that Gill’s design for Trumpington War Memorial, which was commissioned in January 1920 and drawn in January 1921, appears to be a development on the Harting cross design. Trumpington has a three-stepped base, some inscriptions on the plinth, and shorter cartouches on the shorter shaft.
Harting memorial was unveiled and dedicated on 3 July 1921 by the Venerable Archdeacon of Chichester. Second World War casualty names were later added to the sides of the shaft by Joseph Cribb, Gill's original apprentice, with lettering matching the original.
MATERIALS: Portland stone.
DESCRIPTION: the memorial comprises a tall, tapering, slim-shafted cross on a plinth set upon a single-stepped base. The cross shaft is nearly 6m high, the plinth is 0.6m high and 1.2m square, the base is 0.2m high and 3.7m square. The plinth features low relief arcading.
The upper part of the shaft (including the cross head) is chamfered at the corners. The lower part features low relief elongated cartouches bearing inscriptions. On two opposite sides, these cartouches incorporate smaller circular cartouches at the top.
On all four sides, the elongated cartouches are above smaller arched panels which contain the carvings of the patron saints of England (St George), Ireland (St Patrick), Scotland (St Andrew) and Wales (St David).
St George, on the south-east side, is haloed and helmeted upon a rearing horse. He spears downwards onto the dragon, brandishing talons and a long tongue. St Patrick, on the north-east side, stands haloed in fine vestments with crozier in his left hand and raising a blessing with his right. The sea is depicted behind him, as are coiled snakes and a leaf of clover. St Andrew, on the north-west side, stands in a boat with sail bearing the Scottish flag. He is haloed and raises both arms. Also in the boat is a haloed fisherman, casting a net into the sea of fishes. St David, on the south-west side, like St Patrick holds a crozier in his left hand, but raises a cross in his right. Several worshippers, of all ages, gather with praying hands at his sides.
On the same side as St Patrick is the principal inscription: AND THUS / THEY DIED / LEAVING / THEIR DE- / ATHS FOR / AN EXAMPLE / OF A NOBLE / COURAGE / AND / A MEMORIAL / OF VIRTUE / NOT ONLY / UNTO YOUNG / MEN BUT / UNTO ALL / THEIR / NATION / II MACC.VI.3I.
On another face is inscribed: REMEMB- / ER THESE / MEN WHO / GAVE THEIR / LIVES IN / THE WAR / OF 1914 / TO 1919 / (NAMES). Another faces reads: AND IN / 1939 – 1945 / (NAMES).
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, 10 November 2017.