Bury War Memorial


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
The Rock, Bury, Lancashire, BL9


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Statutory Address:
The Rock, Bury, Lancashire, BL9

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

Bury (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


First World War memorial. Erected in 1924, by William Kirkpatrick Ltd, and incorporating two bronze plaques by Hermon Cawthra.

Reasons for Designation

Bury War Memorial, situated at the corner of Market Place and The Rock, outside the parish church St Mary the Virgin, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: by the nationally renowned architect Sir Reginald Blomfield, one of the Principal Architects for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and who originated the Cross of Sacrifice design (as used here) that is seen in Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries around the world; * Sculptural interest: Joseph Hermon Cawthra’s fine reliefs were exhibited at the Royal Academy before being installed on the memorial at Bury. His depictions of the wounded, and of civilians and those in reserved occupations demonstrate a shift in memorialisation that now publicly recognised the sacrifices of all; * Rarity: Cawthra’s reliefs depict the many contributions made by women to the war effort, both at the front and at home. The monument is also unusual for its realistic depiction of casualties; * 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; * Group value: with the Grade I-listed Church of St Mary, the Grade II-listed statue of Sir Robert Peel, the Grade II-listed buildings around the Market Square and the Grade II-listed Castle Armoury.


The aftermath of the First World War saw an unprecedented wave of public commemoration with tens of thousands of memorials erected across the country. One such memorial was erected in Bury in 1924.

Discussions about a war memorial for Bury began soon after the end of the war. Bury’s primary memorial scheme was to establish a children’s wing at the Bury Infirmary, a scheme which attracted much support and aimed to raise over £50,000. The suggestion of also having a monument did not initially receive as much support as the hospital wing, partly because war memorials were appearing locally elsewhere (such as outside the headquarters of the Lancashire Fusiliers), but an anonymous donor settled any reservations by donating £1,000 to the project, subject to its being erected in the Market Place.

Land was donated by the church of St Mary (which contains many memorials to the Lancashire Fusiliers) at the corner of its grounds that faced the Market Place.

The memorial comprises a Cross of Sacrifice, as designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, and incorporates two large bronze relief panels by Joseph Hermon Cawthra – the panels were exhibited at the Royal Academy before being installed. The construction was by William Kirkpatrick Ltd, Manchester Granite and Marble Works, Trafford Park, Manchester.

The memorial at Bury was unveiled on 11 November 1924 by Mrs Peachment, a bereaved mother whose 18 year old son, Rfn. George Peachment, VC (awarded posthumously), was the youngest recipient of the Victoria Cross in the First World War.

The Cross of Sacrifice had been designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield for the Imperial War Graves Commission (now Commonwealth War Graves Commission) in 1918, to be present at cemeteries where there were more than 40 burials. It has been installed elsewhere, in the UK and around the world, as a local war memorial design.

Joseph Hermon Cawthra (1886-1971) RBS, ARCA, was a sculptor born in Shipley, Yorkshire and trained at Salts Art School (Shipley), the Leeds School of Art, the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. His war memorial work included statuary and relief work at Bootle, Lancashire; Hackney Churchyard Gardens; Gwersyllt, Wrexham (Wales); and Monifieth, Angus (Scotland). His other notable work included the Earl of Meath Memorial at Lancaster Gate, Hyde Park (1934), relief work on Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Islington (1938), and figures for Manchester Town Hall Extension (1938).


First World War memorial. Erected in 1924, by William Kirkpatrick Ltd, and incorporating two bronze plaques by Hermon Cawthra.

MATERIALS: carved in granite, with bronze plaques and sword.

DESCRIPTION: the memorial stands outward facing from the corner of the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, at the junction of Market Place and The Rock.

The memorial comprises a Cornish granite Cross of Sacrifice, derived from the Imperial War Graves Commission design by Sir Reginald Blomfield, on an octagonal base and with curving flanking walls bearing bronze reliefs by Joseph Hermon Cawthra.

The inscription is on the pedestal below a bronze wreath and reads: TO THE MEMORY OF THE MEN / OF BURY WHO GAVE THEIR / LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR / 1914 / 1918. A later inscription of 1939 / 1945 was added above the original. The memorial bears no names.

The terminations of the curving flanking walls both bear carved shields and a short inscription. The left wall shows the shield of Bury and the words PRO REGE, the right wall shows the county shield and the words PRO PATRIA.

The bronze panel by Cawthra at left depicts military scenes. The figures process from right to left and include representatives of the three armed forces, as well as a nurse and a wounded soldier borne on a stretcher. The panel at right depicts aspects of life on the Home Front. The figures similarly process from right to left. They include individuals in reserved occupations such as coal mining, engineering and munitions, as well as civilians, including children. The fine reliefs exemplify the decision of some artists to avoid heroic or triumphalist depictions and focus on the realistic and sombre. Both are signed ‘H. Cawthra R.S.S. Scul.’


Books and journals
Wyke with Cocks, , Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, (2004), 253-254
Ashcroft, M (2014) Young VC winner 'could not have been braver' , accessed 13 February 2017 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/inside-first-world-war/part-ten/10862898/vc-winner-among-youngest.html
Information on Bury War Memorial from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association , accessed 13 February 2017 from http://www.pmsa.org.uk/pmsa-database/4478/
Joseph Hermon Cawthra,’ entry in Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database, accessed 13 February 2017 from http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib5_1210297261
War Memorials Online, accessed 5 June 2017 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/153309
War Memorials Register, accessed 5 June 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/2137


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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