Listed - First World War Memorial by Kathleen Scott, Wife of Scott of the Antarctic
The war memorial in the centre of Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, by noted female sculptor Kathleen Scott, wife of polar explorer Captain Scott, has been listed at Grade II. Its listing is part of an English Heritage project to see up to 500 war memorials a year given the protection of listed status over the next five years in honour of the First World War centenary. The project has the backing of Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, who leads for the Government on First World War commemorations.
Erected in 1923, the Huntingdon memorial is a skilful and moving work. It is unusual in that Kathleen Scott chose a contemplative pose for the soldier rather than a heroic one. Her own life had been touched by the loss of her first husband, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, the British Royal Navy Officer who died leading a pioneering expedition to the South Pole in 1912 and who became internationally renowned as 'Scott of the Antarctic'.
Rather than individually naming those who died, the memorial commemorates with inscriptions added in later years all those who served not only in the two World Wars but in the many conflicts that followed.
The memorial occupies a prominent position in the centre of Market Hill, where it is surrounded on all four sides by listed buildings, including the Grade I listed Church of All Saints to the north-west, and the Town Hall to the south-east, listed at Grade II*.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: "This centenary comes at a point where living memory becomes written history, so it is absolutely essential that our work to mark it speaks clearly to young people in particular. War Memorials are a precious part of our heritage that keep alive the ultimate sacrifice that so many made. It is absolutely right that we cherish and protect them".
Roger Bowdler, Designation Director at English Heritage, said:
"Researching, recording and recommending up to 2,500 more war memorials for listing over the next five years is a major task but one that English Heritage is proud to undertake. These memorials will gain a place on the National Heritage List for England to tell the story of this country's sacrifice and struggle."
Nick Guyatt, Executive Councillor for Strategic Planning and Housing at Huntingdonshire District Council, said: "The 'Thinking Soldier' memorial has for a long time been the focus for the remembrance of the fallen of this district. It was unveiled on Armistice Day in November 1923 by the artist Kathleen Kennet (the widow of Captain Scott of the Antarctic). It is important that the significance of this sculpture, the importance of its artist and the moving and poignant message behind its creation is recognised in this the centenary year of the start of the First World War."
Maria Miller added: "Whether we have relatives whose names are on local memorials, or who fought alongside those who died, we all have a connection with remembrance. I would urge everyone to make sure their local memorial is in good condition. If it isn't, then English Heritage, Wolfson Foundation, War Memorials Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund all have grants and advice available."
War Memorials Trust is working in partnership with English Heritage to encourage applications to list war memorials, and wants people to report war memorials in poor condition so that it can help get these memorials repaired.