Robertsbridge War Memorial Clock Tower

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1463038
Date first listed:
17-May-2019
Statutory Address:
High Street, Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5AN

Map

Ordnance survey map of Robertsbridge War Memorial Clock Tower
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Location

Statutory Address:
High Street, Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5AN

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

County:
East Sussex
District:
Rother (District Authority)
Parish:
Salehurst and Robertsbridge
National Grid Reference:
TQ7380223500

Summary

War Memorial Clock Tower, unveiled in 1921, located on the western side of the High Street in Robertsbridge in a small plot bordered by soft landscaping and enclosed by a kerb.

Reasons for Designation

Robertsbridge War Memorial Clock Tower, of 1921, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: Historic interest: * as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of the First World War on this local community, and the sacrifice it made in that conflict;

Architectural interest: * standing prominently to the side of the High Street, this is a well-executed example of a restrained yet dignified memorial clock tower;

Group value:

* the memorial has a group value with the adjacent Grade II listed buildings.

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: therefore the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss. One such memorial was raised at Robertsbridge. It provides a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by 40 members of the local community, who lost their lives in the First World War, another 12 who died in the Second World War and one resident whose life was lost in service during the Korean War.

By the end of the First World War two private memorials had already been erected in the Parish Church of St Mary, but a memorial to all those who had died was proposed, either inside or outside the Church, to be paid for by public contributions. In December 1918 the Salehurst Parish Magazine carried an appeal to parishioners ‘for a sum of at least £100, to place a memorial in the Church to the gallant men who have fallen in the war’. Following discussions within the community regarding the form and position of a memorial, it was agreed that it would be located in a more ‘central position’. Of the many suggestions was a clock tower, with ‘the names recorded on imperishable stone for future generations to read’. The church, in the meantime, proceeded with their original plan of commissioning a bronze plaque that was unveiled behind the pulpit in the Church in October 1919. The church donated the remaining balance of their appeal fund (£11.15s) to the treasurer for the memorial clock. The location of the new memorial tower was given to the Parish Council by the owners of the George Hotel, as recompense for illegally felling an oak tree that stood outside the hotel, which had been planted as part of extravagant village celebrations to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

The memorial tower was built by Mr G Ellis of Rye and the clock was made by Messrs George and Co of Whitchurch. It was unveiled on 19 June 1921 by Lieutenant-Colonel J Body DSO, OBE, who was joined by members of the 5th Royal Sussex Regiment – who provided buglers to sound the “Last Post”, “Reveille” and a guard of honour. It was followed by an ecumenical service with contributions from the Vicar of Salehurst, the Revd Ward, Mr E E Ralph, an evangelist, and the Revd C H Cartwright, the Wesleyan circuit minister. The service concluded with the band playing ‘To the Memory of the Brave’.

In March 1921 Salehurst Parish Council formally adopted the maintenance of the completed memorial. As well as the costs of weekly winding, maintenance and refurbishment work has been carried out ever since. The latest refurbishment works were undertaken in September-October 2018 comprising; repainting of the lead lettering, replacement of broken glass panels on the clock face, repainting of metal work and re-gilding of numerals and hands, and treatment of the wooden louvre vents and the tower door.

Details

War memorial, unveiled in 1921. The memorial is located on the High Street. It stands in close proximity to a number of Grade II listed buildings which line High Street, including The George Hotel and The Grove. It stands at the side of the road in a small plot bordered by soft landscaping and enclosed by a kerb.

Materials: red and blue Sussex bricks, clay tiles, granite tablet, timber door and glass and metal elements forming the clock faces.

Description: the memorial takes the form of an English bond, red Sussex brick clock tower, square on plan, with a pitched tiled roof. The roof has brick eaves returned as broken lower members to open pedimented gables. The tower stands on a blue Sussex brick plinth with clasping buttresses. The north and south elevations of the tower each bear a clock face while the east face has a louvred window and a cast iron flag pole, painted white.

A timber door, set into the west face of the plinth, provides access to the interior which houses the clock workings comprising a manually wound, six-day movement, which chimes on the hour. A ladder consisting of cast iron rungs is set into the brickwork across the north-east corner, allowing access to the top of the tower, interior clock faces, workings and lighting (the clock faces are internally illuminated at night, a feature added in 1932).

A granite tablet is set into the east face of the tower, at plinth level, and bears an inscription which reads ERECTED BY THE INHABITANTS TO THE/ MEMORY OF THE MEN FROM THIS PARISH/ WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR/ 1914 – 1919./ HONOUR TO THE IMMORTAL DEAD, THAT/ GREAT WHITE COMPANY OF SHINING SOULS/ WHO GAVE THEIR YOUTH THAT THE WORLD/ MIGHT GROW OLD IN PEACE. Above this is another granite plaque which reads IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF THOSE/ WHO DIED FOR HOME AND FREEDOM/ 1939 – 1945/ (12 NAMES). Granite plaques on the north and south faces list the 40 names of those who fell in the First World War and a plaque on the east face records the names of those lost in the Second World War. The south face also shows the name of one resident who fell in the Korean War.

Sources

Websites
Imperial War Museum - War Memorial Register, accessed 8th February 2019 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/17077
Sussex History Forum, accessed 8th February 2019 from http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?PHPSESSID=5cdhb2vb4015ptfhh90a4sl5t0&topic=12694.0
War Memorials Online, accessed 8th February 2019 from http://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/node/193034
Other
Mayhew, C, ‘The Public War Memorial & Peace Celebrations’ (Salehurst & Robertsbridge Parish Council, The Parish Office, George Hill, Robertsbridge)
Parish Council files, Salehurst & Robertsbridge Parish Council, The Parish Office, George Hill, Robertsbridge

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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