Aylesbury St Mary's War Memorial Cross

Overview

Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1458531

Date first listed: 08-Aug-2018

Statutory Address: c30m south of St Mary's Church, The churchyard, Church Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20 2QP

Map

Ordnance survey map of Aylesbury St Mary's War Memorial Cross
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Location

Statutory Address: c30m south of St Mary's Church, The churchyard, Church Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20 2QP

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

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Aylesbury Vale (District Authority)

Parish: Aylesbury

National Grid Reference: SP8173113873

Summary

First World War memorial cross designed by Esmond Burton, unveiled in 1921.

Reasons for Designation

Aylesbury St Mary’s War Memorial Cross, which stands in the churchyard, 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.

Architectural interest:

* a tall, elegant, well-executed Calvary cross by Esmond Burton of the Art Workers’ Guild; * unusually, the memorial has not been adapted for Second World War commemoration, and thus retains its original design intent.

Group value:

* with the Church of St Mary (Grade I), the South Gateway to St Mary’s Churchyard (Grade II), and numerous listed buildings around the church close.

History

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 at St Mary's parish church in Aylesbury as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War. Other memorial schemes for the church had been proposed and discussed at vestry meetings, but in the event a more affordable freestanding cross was selected at a meeting held in March 1920.

Designed by Mr E Burton of London, the memorial cross outside the Church of St Mary (Grade I-listed) was unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, the Marquis of Lincolnshire, at a service held on 20 March 1921. The dedication was undertaken by the Bishop of Buckingham. The churchyard wall was lowered to improve the visibility of the cross from the street, shortly after the unveiling ceremony.

Esmond Burton (1886-1964) was a carver, modeller and architectural sculptor active from 1911 to 1964. A member of the Art Workers' Guild, he was responsible for the design of a number of war memorials including the memorial cross for Streatley on Thames, a memorial tablet for St Mary’s Church, Chilton, and the Lloyd’s of London Second World War memorial. He also contributed to the sculptural elements of the War Memorial Chapel at Rugby School (Grade II*-listed) and the Second World War extension to the Portsmouth Naval War Memorial (Grade I-listed).

Details

Aylesbury St Mary’s War Memorial is located in the churchyard, to the south of the Church of St Mary (Grade I-listed) and adjacent to the South Gateway to St Mary’s Churchyard (Grade II-listed). Numerous listed buildings are adjacent, surrounding the church close on all sides. The c6m tall stone memorial takes the form of an elaborate Calvary cross.

The cross-head Calvary includes a hooded crucifixion scene with Mary and John standing either side of the cross. The flanking figures, carved in the round, are supported by bracketed pedestals at the top of the slender cross shaft, octagonal in section. The cross shaft rises from a pedestal, square on plan but with an octagonal moulded cap and shoulders cut back at the corners. The pedestal stands on a three-stepped base.

The dedication is carved in relief on the south face of the pedestal. It reads TO THE/ GLORY OF/ GOD/ AND TO THE HONOURED MEMORY/ OF THE MEN OF AYLESBURY WHO/ DID THEIR DUTY EVEN UNTO DEATH/ IN THE GREAT WAR 1914 – 1919/ TRUE LOVE BY LIFE TRUE LOVE BY DEATH IS TRIED/ LIVE THOU FOR ENGLAND WE FOR ENGLAND DIED/ REQUIESCAT IN PACE.

Sources

Websites
War Memorials Online, accessed 3 July 2018 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/130009
War Memorials Register, accessed 3 July 2018 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/8058
Other
“Aylesbury Church War Memorial”, Bucks Herald, 26 March 1921, p11
“Aylesbury St. Mary’s War Memorial”, Bucks Herald, 20 December 1919, p10
“Church War Memorial”, Bucks Herald, 3 December 1921, p12
“St Mary’s”, Bucks Herald, 27 March 1920, p12
'Esmond Burton', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib2_1206489468, accessed 03 July 2018]

End of official listing