War memorial cross at The King's School, Canterbury


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
Memorial Court, The King's School, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2ES


Ordnance survey map of War memorial cross at The King's School, Canterbury
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Statutory Address:
Memorial Court, The King's School, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2ES

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

Location Description:
Canterbury (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


First World War memorial designed by Sir Herbert Baker FRIBA RA, unveiled 1921, with later additions for the Second World War.

Reasons for Designation

The war memorial cross at King’s School, Canterbury, which stands within the grounds of the school, 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: as the focal point of a ceremonial space, intended to play a part at key moments of school life;

* Architect: by the nationally renowned architect Sir Herbert Baker FRIBA RA (1862-1946), who designed a number of memorials at home and abroad;

* Design: an elegant memorial cross of a type used elsewhere in England by the architect, incorporating some of his symbolic memorial motifs;

* Group value: with the Norman Staircase (Grade I), numerous other designated assets within the Cathedral Precincts, and within the Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church World Heritage Site.


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. This was the result of both the huge impact on communities of the loss of three quarters of a million British lives, and also 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. A number of schools raised war memorials to commemorate staff and ex-pupils who lost their lives in the First World War, including The King’s School, Canterbury.

The memorial, designed by Sir Herbert Baker FRIBA RA, was part of a scheme to create a “Court of Honour” that involved reducing the levels of the area near the Norman Staircase to expose the Norman bases of the pillars upon which the original schoolroom was built. 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 King's School.

It was intended that the three steps upon which the memorial cross stands would be used for purposes connected with the school: the lower step would be used for announcements related to the School games; the middle step for those connected with ordinary School business; whilst the top step would be used for the conduct of open-air services.

The total cost was c£1,000, which included a memorial tablet (with Charles St Leger, unveiled in 1925) that is fixed into the south wall of the adjacent undercroft (Grade II-listed). The masons were HG Browning and S Willan. The memorial cross was unveiled on 19 December 1921 by Major-General Sir EE Carter, an Old Boy of the school, and was dedicated by the Dean of Canterbury (deputising for the Archbishop, who was unwell). Following repairs to the Memorial Court occasioned by air raid damage in 1942, a Second World War tablet was unveiled on 25 July 1949 by Field Marshal Montgomery (also an Old Boy), and dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Fourteen names were added to the First World War tablet in 2014.

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 24 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 Clipsham stone memorial cross stands at the southern side of the Memorial Court, to the south of the Norman Staircase (Grade I-listed). The memorial takes the form of a c7m tall cross with an octagonal shaft, standing on a plinth and three-stepped, octagonal, base. The school badge is carved into the head of the cross on the south-west side, with a reversed sword carved onto the north-east side. The drum-like plinth, octagonal in section, has a shallow circular head. An inscription carved in relief around this circular head reads LORD GOD OF HOSTS BE WITH US YET, LEST WE FORGET, LEST WE FORGET.

Further inscriptions on the base read OUR HELP/ STANDETH/ IN THE NAME/ OF THE LORD and IN PROUD AND THANKFUL/ MEMORY OF THE BOYS OF/ KING’S SCHOOL WHO GAVE/ THEIR LIVES FOR KING AND/ COUNTRY 1914-1919. The face of the step below has been cut away to add the later inscription, AND IN THE SECOND/ WORLD WAR 1939 1945.

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, 6 June 2017.


Books and journals
Kernot, CF, British Public Schools War Memorials, (1927), 50-2
The King's School, Canterbury, War Memorials, accessed 14 March 2017 from http://www.kings-school.co.uk/about/history/war-memorials/
War Memorials Online, accessed 6 June 2017 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/186052
War Memorials Register, accessed 6 June 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/41021
RIBA Drawings Collection: Drawings of Sir Herbert Baker
Whitstable Times and Tankerton Press, 24 December 1921, p3


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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