The Robertson War Memorial Bequest Obelisk, Hydon's Ball


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
c110m south-west of the triangulation pillar, Hydon's Ball, Hydon Heath, Hambledon, Surrey, GU8 4DP


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Statutory Address:
c110m south-west of the triangulation pillar, Hydon's Ball, Hydon Heath, Hambledon, Surrey, GU8 4DP

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Waverley (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


First World War memorial marker.

Reasons for Designation

The Robertson War Memorial Bequest Obelisk, which stands on Hydon’s Ball, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on a family, and the sacrifice it made in the First World War; * Architectural interest: a simple yet poignant obelisk, made in an unusual material and including a plaque designed by noted sculptor and modeller Laurence Turner Hon ARIBA; * Historic association: as one of an unusual group of nine markers each indicating First World War memorial landscapes scattered across the south-east of England, resulting from a bequest to the National Trust.


Of the National Trust’s total land-holdings approximately one-fifth, some 50,000 hectares, has been given as a war memorial. Immediately after the First World War one of the Trust’s founders, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, led a call for open spaces to be given in commemoration of the tragic losses resulting from the conflict. Rawnsley had led the way when in 1915 he gifted the Trust land at Borrowdale that he named Peace How, referencing the peace that he hoped was to come. In addition to private gifts of areas of land the National Trust has bought property with money that was given for war memorial purposes, and was a major recipient of the National Land Fund, set up in 1946 to secure places of beauty or heritage value to be held in perpetuity and open to the public as a memorial to those who gave their lives in war.

William Robertson (d1937) left a bequest to the National Trust to acquire property 'within reasonably easy access of London' as a memorial to his two younger brothers who died during the First World War. Second Lieutenant Laurance Robertson (36), King’s Own Scottish Borderers, was killed in action during the Battle of the Somme on 30 July 1916. His name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial. Captain Norman Robertson (40) of 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, died on 20 June 1917. He is buried in Hamburg Cemetery.

Nine memorial properties were purchased with William Robertson’s bequest. With the exception of Sutton House, each memorial property incorporates high ground in accordance with William Robertson's wishes. A marker records the details of each bequest: eight markers are obelisks with dedicatory plaques, the ninth is a wall plaque. A small area of Hydon Heath (c0.5ha) was the last of the nine properties to be purchased, on 15 January 1959. The portion of woodland is part of the larger area of heath and woodland of Hydon Heath, purchased by the National Trust between 1915 and 1926 and dedicated as a memorial to one of its founders, Octavia Hill. It is marked by an obelisk standing slightly below the summit of Hydon’s Ball.

The obelisk was cast by Dove Brothers, London and the plaque was made by the Royal Label Factory, Stratford on Avon, to a design by Laurence Turner, HonARIBA. Dove Brothers had to use a second mould, the original having been lost during the Second World War. Laurence Turner (1864-1957) was an architectural sculptor and modeller. Following his education at Marlborough College he was articled to John McCulloch. Turner worked with many leading architects including Bodley, Eden, Tapper and Schultz, predominantly on church projects. His prolific commissions include tombs for William Morris and Norman Shaw as well as decorative work for commercial and government buildings, churches, and educational establishments.


The c2.4m tall memorial marker stands on the hillside close to the summit of Hydon’s Ball. It takes the form of a stepped obelisk, square on plan, standing on a low step. The marker is cast aggregate concrete. The dedication, on a cast aluminium plaque inset to the front face of the obelisk, reads HYDONS BALL/ THIS LAND WAS PURCHASED/ FOR THE/ NATIONAL TRUST/ FROM FUNDS BEQUEATHED BY/ W. A. ROBERTSON/ IN MEMORY OF HIS BROTHERS/ NORMAN CAIRNS/ ROBERTSON CAPTN./ 2ND BATT. HAMPSHIRE REGT/ WHO DIED 20TH JUNE 1917 AT/ HANOVER GERMANY AND OF/ LAURANCE GRANT/ ROBERTSON 2ND LIEUT/ 2ND BATTALION KING'S OWN/ SCOTTISH BORDERERS WHO/ WAS KILLED IN ACTION IN/ FRANCE DURING THE BATTLE/ OF THE SOMME IN OR NEAR/ DELVILLE WOOD 30TH JULY 1916.

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, 15 March 2017.


Books and journals
Benny, A, Ferneyhaugh, J, 'The Robertson Brothers' memorials' in Views, , Vol. 51, (01/09/2016), 70-2
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, accessed 08/08/2016 from dead/casualty/902618/ROBERTSON,%20NORMAN%20CAIRNS
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, accessed 08/08/2016 from,%20LAWRANCE%20GRANT
War Memorials Online, accessed 15 March 2017 from
War Memorials Register, accessed 04/01/2016 from


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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