Public Call-out Uncovers England’s Secret and Unknown Memorials

  • Hundreds of nominations received as public share their knowledge of local monuments, street shrines and community tributes
  • Some of the nominated memorials are today listed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Call-out part of Historic England's Immortalised season to explore who is remembered, and how, in our streets, buildings and public spaces
  • Many memorials put forward will be unveiled in a new free exhibition that opens in London on Thursday 30 August
  • Public statues and monuments are under increasing scrutiny and Historic England asks, how will we remember in the future?

The public have nominated hundreds of memorials in response to a call-out by Historic England to find the country's secret and lesser-known murals, statues and tributes.

‘Cracker Packers’ on a Carr’s Table Water Biscuit, Carlisle
‘Cracker Packers’ on a Carr’s Table Water Biscuit, Carlisle © Nick Hunt

Public nominations

Amongst the nominations were:

  • A memorial in Preston to commemorate the Teetotal Movement
  • A statue to honour the Jarrow Crusaders - the 200 shipyard workers who marched from the North East to Parliament to protest against poverty
  • A wild garden shrine to 'the outcast dead' on the site of a graveyard where paupers and prostitutes were buried
  • A pub mural of a local hero who led a revolt against the Crown when areas of the Forest of Dean were fenced off
  • Etched bricks commemorating men who died in a Watford Workhouse
  • A statue of the women who packed Carr's Table Water Biscuits

Some nominated memorials now protected

Some of the nominated memorials are today listed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, including:

  • The gravestone of a woman who founded a ragged school in Bristol and was an anti-slavery campaigner,
  • A peace memorial commissioned by a woman in Witney to commemorate peace at the end of the First World War and the safe return of those who survived, including her two sons
Preston Abstinence Memorial, Lancashire
Preston Abstinence Memorial, Lancashire © Historic England

Immortalised season explores who and what we remember

The search was carried out as part of Historic England's Immortalised season, which aims to help people explore the country's memorial landscape - who is reflected, who is missing, and why.

Monuments and statues are under increasing scrutiny as debates grow about why there are so few statues of women and people of colour. As part of Immortalised, Historic England is organising a debate and public participation to explore who and what will be remembered in our public spaces, and how we and future generations will commemorate.
 
People from across England submitted photographs and stories of memorials, locally known and loved, and others that have almost been forgotten by communities and nationally.

Listed memorials unveiling at Immortalised exhibition

A number have been listed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England, and a selection will be unveiled in the Immortalised exhibition which will open in London on Thursday 30 August and is free to visit.

As well as showcasing some of England's local monuments, street shrines and community tributes, Immortalised: The People Loved, Left and Lost in our Landscape explores the variety of ways people and events have been commemorated in England, past and present. Stories of immortalisation, from the nationally important, the heroic and sad, to the quirky, inspirational and challenging, are told through photographs, archival material and individual objects presented in an immersive way that gives life and voice to the monuments and memorials on show.

The exhibition also looks at who we have chosen to memorialise in the past, and why, and highlights the well-documented lack of women, working class people and people of colour in England's memorial landscape. Also on display are the winning designs of a national competition that asked artists, architects and designers to explore and visualise what memorials of the future could look like.

See exhibition visitor information

A board explaining the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman's Park, City of London
A board explaining the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman's Park, City of London © Historic England

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: "We are very grateful that so many people took the time to tell us about memorials in their communities and the stories behind them. At a time when our national statues and memorials are under increasing scrutiny, we're delighted to shine a light on these often undiscovered and under-appreciated markers of our past. Every one of those that's been nominated has a local champion and someone who cares about it and about the story it tells. It's important for us all to know who has been commemorated in our public spaces and what this can tell us about our history, as we look at how public memorials are evolving today."

Listed memorials

Preston Abstinence Memorial, Lancashire, Grade II

Located in Preston Cemetery, this memorial, erected in 1859, commemorates the success of the Teetotal Movement. Preston was an early centre of the Temperance movement - the campaign against alcohol which was the major mass-movement social campaign of the 19th century. At a meeting of the Preston Temperance Society in September 1832, the principle of 'Total Abstinence' was adopted. The memorial is surrounded by monuments to Temperance activists, including Joseph Livesey, the 'Father of Teetotalism'. There is also a monument to Edward Grubb, the last survivor of the 'Seven Men of Preston' who signed the first 'Total Abstinence' pledge in 1832. Grubb is actually buried in Harrogate, but there is a stone in Preston Cemetery that reproduces the inscription from his gravestone.

See the list entry for Preston Abstinence Memorial

Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman's Park, City of London, upgraded to Grade II*

The park opened in 1880 and in 1900, it became the location for a memorial to ordinary people who died while saving the lives of others and who might otherwise have been forgotten, in the form of a loggia and long wall housing ceramic memorial tablets. The Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, designed by artist George Frederik Watts in 1900, was first listed in the 1970s and has been upgraded to Grade II*.

See the list entry for the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman's Park

Gravestone of Mary Carpenter, Bristol, Grade II

Mary Carpenter (1807-1877) founded a ragged school, bringing education to poor children and young offenders in Bristol. She was one of the foremost public speakers of her time and was also active in the anti-slavery movement and publicly supported women's suffrage. She published articles on her work in education and prisons and was also a campaigner for women and children in India. She is buried in Arnos Vale cemetery in Bristol and her grave is newly listed.

See the list entry for the Gravestone of Mary Carpenter

Also newly listed are:

  • A tombstone to Sarah Smith who was murdered in 1763, aged 21 in Staffordshire (Grade II);
  • A Peace Memorial in Witney, Oxfordshire (Grade II) - commissioned by a woman to commemorate peace at the end of the First World War and the safe return of all those who survived the conflict, including her two sons and a number of nephews;
  • The Czech Memorial Fountain, unveiled in 1968 in Leamington Spa (Grade II) - to honour those who served in the Czech Free Army which was based in the town;
  • Charlotte Dymond Memorial (Grade II) - Bodmin Moor.

Further listings are likely to be announced as part of the season's legacy.

Mary Carpenter's gravestone, Arnos Vale cemetery, Bristol
Mary Carpenter's gravestone, Arnos Vale cemetery, Bristol © Historic England

Memorials nominated by the public

Hundreds of locally well-loved statues, memorials, murals and shrines were suggested by people across England.

See more nominated memorials

Find out more about the Immortalised season

The Immortalised season does not specifically tackle the subject of war memorials, which have been the subject of a separate four-year programme by Historic England to mark the centenary of the First World War, which had an enormous impact on England's memorial landscape.

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