Needham Market War Memorial Lych Gate


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
St John the Baptist Cemetery, Barratts Lane, Needham Market, Suffolk, IP6 8BS


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Statutory Address:
St John the Baptist Cemetery, Barratts Lane, Needham Market, Suffolk, IP6 8BS

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

Mid Suffolk (District Authority)
Needham Market
National Grid Reference:


First World War memorial lych gate, 1921.

Reasons for Designation

Needham Market War Memorial Lych Gate, which stands at St John the Baptist's Cemetery, 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 conflicts of the C20.

Architectural interest:

* the lych gate is good-quality design drawing derived from historic exemplars, and is well-constructed in traditional materials.

Group value:

* sharing a close association with the central cemetery memorial, also listed at Grade II.


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 the official policy of not repatriating the dead: memorials, therefore, provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss.

Two such memorials were raised in St John the Baptist's Cemetery at Needham Market as permanent testaments to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War. At the entrance to the cemetery is a memorial lych gate, and at the centre, a freestanding granite monolith (Grade II). The central memorial, and presumably the lych gate, were unveiled on 17 April 1921 by Brigadier-General S E Massey-Lloyd.

Lych gates, often forming a picturesque entrance to a churchyard, initially had a practical and ritualistic purpose. Medieval lych gates were used as a meeting point and shelter for burial parties bringing bodies for interment. The group would convene beneath the lych gate, to be met by the priest prior to entering the consecrated churchyard and beginning funerary rituals. Some lych gates had a slab to hold the coffin, and they often had benches. Their name derives from the Anglo-Saxon or German word for corpse: lich, or leiche.


First World War memorial lych gate, 1921. MATERIALS: a red brick base with timber above, with a tiled roof and quarry-tiled floor.

PLAN: forming the entrance to the cemetery on the north-west boundary.

DESCRIPTION: the lych gate has a brick base with a timber screen above, and a pitched roof. The outer elevation faces north-west, and is a symmetrical composition. Entrance is through a pair of low timber gates with arched openings and slatted panels. Rising from the base, a series of timber posts form a screen of trefoil-arched openings along either side. The roof is supported by box-framed gable trusses, with arching tie-beams. The gable barge boards have quatrefoil piercings at their feet. The tie beam on the north-west is inscribed ‘IN MEMORIAM / 1914 / 1918'. Panels on the north-west elevation of the base record the details of the restoration of the lych gate in 1995. Internally, there are fixed timber benches with boarded backs along either side, and the floor is tiled.


Needham Market – Municipal (ref 4795), Imperial War Museum War Memorials Register, accessed 08/01/2020 from
East Anglian Daily Times, 19 April 1921


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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