Sherborne Abbey First World War Memorial and Second World War Memorial Wall
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- Sherborne Abbey, Sherborne, DT9 3LQ
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- Statutory Address:
- Sherborne Abbey, Sherborne, DT9 3LQ
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Dorset (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- ST6382916459, ST6383016456
A First World War memorial designed by WD Caröe, unveiled 1921. Memorial plaques added to a freestanding wall to the north commemorate those who fell in the Second World War; eighteen civilians lost in an air raid in 1940, during the Battle of Britain; and members of the US military killed in a landmine accident nearby in 1944.
Reasons for Designation
Sherborne Abbey War Memorial and Second World War Memorial Wall are 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; * for the commemoration of eighteen civilians who were killed in an air raid on Sherborne on 30 September 1940.
Architectural interest: * the First World War memorial is a high-quality design by the nationally-renowned architect WD Caröe.
Group value: * with the Grade I-listed Abbey Church of St Mary, and with other listed structures in the close and on the surrounding streets.
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 Sherborne Abbey as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the 175 members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War. After the Second World War a low wall was built to the north of the memorial add bronze plaques added to commemorate those lost in that conflict, and eighteen civilians who were killed in the town in an air raid during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Two further commemorative plaques were added in 1989 to remember US soldiers who were killed in a landmine accident nearby in 1944.
The First World War memorial was designed by William Douglas Caröe FSA and was made by John Merrick of Glastonbury. It was unveiled on 11 November 1921 by the Earl of Shaftesbury. Bronze plaques with the names of the fallen were added around the hexagonal plinth in 1923.
On 30 September 1940, during the Battle of Britain, Sherborne was raided by 150 German bombers. Their intended target was the Westland Aircraft factory at Yeovil, but they were forced back by poor visibility and RAF fighters. The bombers dropped about 60 tons of bombs in a straight line from Lenthay to the south-west and Crackmore to the north-east, with Sherborne town centre directly in the middle. The area sustained substantial damage and 766 buildings were damaged and destroyed. Bombs fell near Sherborne Abbey and Sherborne School, but the only damage was roof tiles being blown off and shattered windows. Eighteen Sherborne civilians were killed (one of wounds six years later).
After the Second World War a low wall of Doulting stone was constructed on the north side of the First World War memorial. Two bronze plaques inscribed with the 74 names of the fallen from the Second World War were mounted on the wall, alongside one to remember the eighteen civilians lost in an air raid on Sherborne on 30 September 1940. The memorial plaques were unveiled on 30 November 1947 by General Sir John Harding.
In 1989 two additional plaques were added to the wall to commemorate 29 members of the 294th Engineer Combat Division of the US Army who were killed on 30 March 1944 in a landmine accident in the grounds of the US Army Hospital 228th Camp Unit at Haydon Park near Sherborne; and those of the battalion who were killed in action during the conflict.
A First World War memorial designed by WD Caröe, unveiled 1921. Memorial plaques added to a freestanding wall to the north commemorate those who fell in the Second World War; eighteen civilians lost in an air raid in 1940 during the Battle of Britain; and members of the US military killed in a landmine accident nearby in 1944.
MATERIALS: Doulting stone; bronze.
DESCRIPTION: the memorial stands to the south-west of Sherborne Abbey (listed Grade I), within the abbey close. Stone steps lead up from the street level and the memorial is set within a paved area flanked by hedges and a low stone wall, set with further memorial plaques, behind to the north.
The First World War memorial comprises a hexagonal plinth with two hexagonal steps above. On the upper step are bronze plaques recording the names of the 175 who fell in the First World War. Above this is a buttressed square plinth, which rises to a square plinth set at a 45-degree angle. The plinth is surmounted with a square base with concave corners and an octagonal moulded coping; this is inscribed IN MEMORIAM 1914-1919 on both the north and south faces. Additionally, on the west side is inscribed: THEY DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR; and on the east side: GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS. The octagonal shaft rises to a pierced cross quadrate. The overall height is 25ft.
To the north of the memorial is a low stone wall, mounted to the left and middle with bronze plaques to commemorate those lost in the Second World War. To the right is a further bronze plaque inscribed THOSE WHO DIED IN THE AIR RAID / ON SHERBORNE 30 SEPTEMBER 1940 and the names of the eighteen who were killed on that day.
Below the middle Second World War plaque is a plaque inscribed: 294TH ENGINEER COMBAT BATTALION / UNITED STATES ARMY / ON MARCH 20, 1944, WHILE COMPLETING THEIR TRAINING FOR THE INVASION OF NORMANDY, 29 MEMBERS / OF C COMPANY, 294TH ENGINEER COMBAT BATTALION, WERE KILLED IN AN ANTITANK MINE EXPLOSION IN SHERBORNE. THIS PLAQUE IS DEDICATED TO THEIR MEMORY followed by the names and the date of erection, JUNE 6, 1989. A further plaque erected at the same time commemorates others from the battalion who were killed in action in the Second World War.
Discover Sherborne: Sherborne in World War Two, accessed 23/07/2020 from https://www.sherbornedorset.co.uk/history-2/sherborne-in-world-war-ii/
Imperial War Museum War Memorials Register: Sherborne Abbey Cross , accessed 23/07/2020 from https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/26788
Sherborne Museum , accessed 23/07/2020 from http://www.sherbornemuseum.co.uk/downloads/Sherborne_War_Memorial_First_World_War.pdf
Sherborne School: The Old Shirburnian Society: Bombing of Sherborne, 30 September 1940, accessed 23/07/2020 from https://oldshirburnian.org.uk/bombing-of-sherborne-30-september-1940/
Sherborne Walks: Remembering the 228th American Hospital at Haydon, accessed 23/07/2020 from https://sherbornewalks.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/remembering-the-228th-american-hospital-at-haydon/
War Memorials Online: Sherborne Abbey Cross , accessed 23/07/2020 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/97398
The Western Chronicle Yeovil, ‘Sherborne’s 165 Fallen’, November 18 1921, p6
The Western Gazette, ‘Sherborne Remembers’, November 18 1921, p9
The Western Gazette, ‘Sherborne War Memorial’, December 5 1947, p2
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