Pearl Centre war memorial

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II*
List Entry Number:
1462803
Date first listed:
19-Mar-2019
Statutory Address:
Pearl Centre, Peterborough Business Park, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6FY

Map

Ordnance survey map of Pearl Centre war memorial
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Location

Statutory Address:
Pearl Centre, Peterborough Business Park, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6FY

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

District:
City of Peterborough (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Orton Waterville
National Grid Reference:
TL1407596510

Summary

War memorial, dated 1919, designed by Sir George James Frampton RA, dedicated to the fallen of the First World War, and four bronze plaques, dedicated to the fallen of the Second World War.

Reasons for Designation

The Pearl Centre war memorial, dated 1919, designed by Sir George James Frampton RA, and dedicated to the fallen of the First and Second World Wars, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * as an outstanding memorial of high architectural and artistic quality; * for the design of the memorial by Sir George James Frampton RA, a notable sculptor and craftsman of architectural and public sculpture, with a number of highly-graded public sculptures to his name.

Historic interest: * as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the Pearl Assurance community, and the sacrifice it made in the conflicts of the C20;

Group value: * for the strong functional and geographic group value the war memorial holds with the Pearl Centre, commercial offices of Pearl Assurance Ltd, designed by Chapman Taylor Partners and built between 1989 and 1992 (listed at Grade II) and the designed landscape of the Pearl Centre, designed by Professor Arnold Weddle and executed under the direction of Chapman Taylor Partners (registered at Grade II).

History

The aftermath of the First World War (1914-18) 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: therefore the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss.

A war memorial was erected in the courtyard of the head offices of the Pearl Assurance Company at 247 to 252 High Holborn in memory of 444 employees of the company who fell in the First World War (1914-18). The monument, designed by Sir George James Frampton RA, was unveiled and dedicated by the Bishop of Truro on 4 July 1921. Following the Second World War (1939-45), the names of 215 employees of the company who fell in the conflict were inscribed on four bronze plaques and erected near the memorial. Pearl Assurance was establishing a presence in Peterborough from 1973, and sought to relocate their headquarters there in the late 1980s. Construction of their new head offices, the Pearl Centre, commenced in 1989 to the designs of Chapman Taylor Partners, and the accompanying landscaping was designed by Professor Arnold Weddle of the Landscape Research Office. The war memorial and its accompanying four plaques were relocated from the courtyard of the company’s former head offices in Holborn to the Pearl Centre in 1991, and situated in a dedicated memorial garden. The memorial was rededicated at the Pearl Centre by the Bishop of Truro on Armistice Day of the same year.

The war memorial was designed by Sir George James Frampton RA (1860-1928), a notable sculptor and craftsman of architectural and public sculpture. Frampton received his first artistic training between 1880 and 1881 at the South London Technical Art School under the sculptor William S Frith, and between 1881 and 1887 studied at the Royal Academy Schools. His career was one of almost unbroken and resounding success: he was awarded the Royal Academy gold medal and travelling studentship, a medal at the Paris Salon of 1889 and the médaille d'honneur at the Paris Exhibition of 1900; in 1894 he was created an honorary Doctor of Laws at St Andrews University and elected an Associate of the Royal Academy, becoming a full member in 1902, the year he was also made Master of the Art Workers' Guild; in 1908 he was knighted. A founding signatory of the Society of British Sculptors he became its president in the year it became a Royal society, and was a member of the Royal Fine Arts Commission from its foundation in 1924. He was closely associated with the art magazine The Studio from its inception in 1893, greatly influencing the rise of 'Jugendstil' design in Germany. Frampton’s design of the Pearl Assurance memorial bears similarities to his design of Maidstone war memorial (listed at Grade II), which features a bronze statue of St George on top a centotaph-like plinth. Amongst his many other works of public sculpture, Frampton designed a series of statues of Queen Victoria for St Helens, Newcastle and Leeds (around 1903-6, each listed at Grade II*), as well as for Calcutta (India), and Winnipeg (Canada); and several public monuments in London, including a monument to Edith Cavell (1915, listed at Grade I), and a statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1912, listed at Grade II*).

Details

War memorial, dated 1919, designed by Sir George James Frampton RA, dedicated to the fallen of the First World War, and four bronze plaques, dedicated to the fallen of the Second World War.

DESCRIPTION: The war memorial is rectangular on plan, and takes the form of a bronze statue of St George trampling the dragon, standing on a tall granite plinth which bears bronze plaques to each elevation, over a three-stepped granite base with corner posts. The statue of St George depicts the character in medieval armour of around 1450, holding in his right hand a cruciform sword, the hilt surrounded by a wreath, whilst his left hand rests on a cross-like shield. The bronze base of the statue bears the signature of the artist on its east elevation ‘GEO. FRAMPTON RA / 1919’. Under the statue at the top part of the plinth is a band of cast-bronze ornament, with high-relief sculptures to the east and west elevations of a soldier’s helmet within a wreath, and low relief sculptural panels to the north and south elevations depicting aviation and maritime wartime scenes respectively. The granite plinth bears a bronze plaque to each elevation with the names of 444 employees of the company who fell in the First World War (1914-18) in low relief. The plaque on the south elevation reads: ‘OF THE STAFF OF THE PEARL / ASSURANCE COMPANY THESE / GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THE / FREEDOM OF THE WORLD IN THE / YEARS OF OUR LORD 1914-1918’. The plaque on the west elevation reads: ‘THEY PASSED AWAY IN THE DAYS / OF THEIR STRENGTH. THEY / LIVE FOREVER IN THE UNDYING / FACT OF THEIR SACRIFICE.’

The east elevation of the computer block of the Pearl Centre bears four bronze plaques, which are inscribed and painted with the names of 215 employees who fell in the Second World War (1939-45), and each reads: ‘MEMBERS OF THE STAFF OF PEARL ASSURANCE COMPANY LTD / WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR FREEDOM IN / WORLD WAR 1939-1945.’

The memorial and plaques are situated within a dedicated memorial garden to the east of the Pearl Centre, designed by Chapman Taylor Partners, and built between 1989 and 1992 (listed at Grade II, NHLE 1462664) within a designed landscape by Professor Arnold Weddle of the Landscape Research Office Ltd (registered at Grade II, NHLE 1462808).

Sources

Books and journals
Pearl Assurance: An Illustrated History, 1864-1989, (1990), 179
Gleichen, E W, London's Open-Air Statuary, (1928), 145
Pevsner, Nikolaus, O'Brien, Charles, The Buildings of England: Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough, (2014), 648
Websites
Imperial War Museum, 'War Memorial Register - Pearl Assurance', accessed 30 January 2019 from https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/3569
Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, ‘Sir George James Frampton RA, FSA, LLD’, accessed 30 January 2019 from https://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib2_1203633030
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ‘Frampton, Sir George James (1960-1928)’, accessed 30 January 2019 from https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/33242
Weddle Landscape Design, 'The Pearl', accessed 23 January 2019 from http://weddles.co.uk/portfolio/the-pearl/

Legal

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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