War Memorial in St Cuthbert's Churchyard


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
St Cuthbert's Churchyard, Peasholme Green, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 7PW


Ordnance survey map of War Memorial in St Cuthbert's Churchyard
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Statutory Address:
St Cuthbert's Churchyard, Peasholme Green, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 7PW

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

York (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


First World War memorial, unveiled 22 January 1921.

Reasons for Designation

The war memorial cross outside the Church of St Cuthbert, 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 local community, and the sacrifice it made in the First World War;

* for the unusual inclusion of a dedication to Constantine the Great and his association with the city of York; his renown is utilised on the memorial as a symbol of victory and the Christian faith, making a direct association between him and the valour of those who served in the First World War.

Architectural interest:

* a well-executed Latin cross memorial.

Group value:

* with the Grade I-listed Church of St Cuthbert.


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. One such memorial was raised in the churchyard of St Cuthbert, York, as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.

Plans for a war memorial dedicated to the parishioners of St Cuthbert’s were originally drawn up in 1919, consisting of a free-standing cross in the churchyard and a memorial tablet placed within the church. Both were designed by W H Wood, architect of Newcastle upon Tyne, who designed several other war memorials in the north-east of England, a number of which are listed. The cross became known as ‘Constantine’s Cross’ as the design included the Chi Rho symbol and the phrase IN HOC SIGNO VINCES (In this sign you will conquer), both of which are attributed to the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Alongside the dedications for the First World War another inscription was proposed making reference to York’s historical links with Constantine, who was declared emperor in the city in AD 306. These proposals prompted criticism from some, including the Archbishop of York, with others deeming it as inappropriate to commemorate Constantine on a memorial primarily for the First World War.

Faculty for the memorial cross and tablet was eventually granted on 13 March 1920, which also included an additional stone tablet to be placed near the memorial cross carrying the dedication to Constantine the Great. The cross was unveiled on 22 January 1921 and dedicated by the Vicar of Doncaster. However, by this stage, plans had changed again with the inscription to Constantine being included on the memorial written around the top of the plinth, above the dedications to the First World War, rather than on a separate stone tablet.

No names were included on the cross, instead the memorial tablet within the church carries the names of the local servicemen who died in the First World War.


First World War memorial, 1921.

MATERIALS: Clipsham stone; oak cross

DESCRIPTION: The war memorial is situated to the south of the Grade I-listed Church of St Cuthbert, immediately adjacent to the entrance porch.

It takes the form of a tall, oak Latin cross rising from a four-sided, tapering Clipsham stone plinth surmounting a single-stepped, square, stone base. Both faces of the cross have the inscription IN HOC SIGNO VINCES (In this sign you will conquer) written across the horizontal arm; carved above the inscription to the vertical arm is the Chi Rho symbol. The plinth carries the inscriptions in incised lettering.

The south-west face of the plinth reads IN THANKFULNESS/ TO ALMIGHTY GOD. To the south-east face are the words 865 PARISHIONERS/ SERVED IN THE WAR/ 1914-1918. The north-east face reads TO THE LOVE OF GOD/ THE FALLEN/ ARE COMMENDED. The north-west face reads THE WOMEN/ AND CHILDREN/ DID THEIR PART.

A further inscription reads anti clockwise around the top part of the plinth starting from south-west face CONSTANTINE THE GREAT/ PROCLAIMED EMPEROR/ IN THIS PARISH/ AD 306.


War Memorials Online, accessed 28 February 2018 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/204290/
War Memorials Register, accessed 28 February 2018 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/30782
Correspondence from W H Wood, 20 December 1919 (Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York 1920/16)
Correspondence to Mr Frost, 28 January 1920 (Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York 1920/16)
Faculty for War Memorial Cross and Tablet at St Cuthbert’s Church, 13 March 1920 (Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York PR Y/CU75)
St Cuthbert’s York Constantines Cross Plan, August 1919 (Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York 1920/16)


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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