War Memorial, 1918, moved in 1972.
Reasons for Designation
The Society of the Sacred Heart War Memorial, 1918, relocated in 1972, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the Sacred Heart Society, and the sacrifice it made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Design: an unusual construction of individually dedicated blocks, which despite reconstruction continues to reflect the sentiments of the community by which it was erected.
The great wave of memorial building in the years following the First World War honoured the many thousands of troops lost, marking the tragic impact of the international conflict at a local level. Memorials provided a focal point for grieving communities, whose dead were often not repatriated.
A memorial was raised at Roehampton by the nuns and children of the Sacred Heart Society, and their families, prior to the end of the war, in 1918. The Sacred Heart Society is a Catholic order which was founded in Paris in 1800, and which came to England in 1842. A building was bought at Roehampton and a small boarding school for girls was established in 1850; this became a training college in the 1870s, and eventually the Digby Stuart College, part of today’s University of Roehampton. The Society’s chapel, listed at Grade II, was built in 1853.
The memorial, now consisting of a wall with an altar-like centrepiece, was originally positioned on the W side of the convent grounds. An undated photograph shows that there was a large Calvary cross with stretches of walls, lower than the present height, to the front and rear. The walls were built up from Portland stone blocks, each with a marble plaque, inscribed to commemorate an individual lost in, or as a result of, the conflict. The plaques are a uniform size, but the font size and style, and the format of the inscriptions, is varied, and a number are in French, reflecting the origins of the Society. The memorial was dedicated by the Reverend W Roche SJ on 24 May 1918. Additional plaques and panels were added to the monument to commemorate lives lost in the Second World War and the Korean War. There is also a single plaque dedicated to a soldier who died of fever in Alexandria, Egypt in 1889; the date this was originally installed is not known.
In 1972 the memorial was moved to its current location on the W side of the boundary wall to the former convent gardens, to enable the expansion of Digby Stuart College. Archival material records that the masons J Whitehead and Sons, Kennington were initially engaged to carry out the work, though in October 1973 the completion of the job was given over to a Mr Baker; a handwritten note states that he finished it in June 1974. The original Calvary cross was not reinstated on the new memorial, though a smaller version adorns the central shrine.
The monument was described by a representative of The National Inventory of War Memorials, Imperial War Museum, as a ‘magnificent war memorial … absolutely unique’.
War Memorial, 1918, moved in 1972.
MATERIALS: constructed from Portland stone and concrete, with white marble plaques and tablets, and a grey marble and polished granite shrine with a bronze crucifix.
PLAN: the memorial is attached to the inside (W) of the boundary wall to Digby Stuart College, just to the S of the main gates. It is approximately 11m long, 2m high and 40cm deep.
DESCRIPTION: the monument consists of a central shrine with walls lined with commemorative plaques to either side. The shrine has a base of polished pink granite bearing the main inscription, flanked by two Portland stone tablets with inscriptions noting the names of those lost in the Second World War and the Korean War. Above is a stone shelf, and a recessed grey marble panel with a pointed top, with a central bronze crucifix, and six plaques with incised inscriptions commemorating members of the clergy lost in the First World War. Pilasters to either side bear the inscriptions ‘ARMAGH / ROEHAMPTON’ and ‘ST CHARLES’S / STUDENTS / ST CHARLES’S’, and have further inscribed tablets. To either side are the plaque-lined walls: each has six rows of fourteen. The walls terminate in pilasters with individual plaques and tablets.
The central shrine has the chi-rho with alpha and omega symbol, followed by the inscription: ‘TO THOSE THEY HAVE LOST / IN THE GREAT WAR / 1914-1919 / THE NUNS AND CHILDREN OF THE SACRED HEART / AND THEIR FAMILIES / HAVE ERECTED THIS SHRINE / IN LOVING MEMORY / AND SUPPLIANT PRAYER / RIP / “THEIR HOPE IS FULL OF IMMORTALITY” / WISD III, IV / 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, 27 February 2018.