Trumpington Village Sign unveiled June 2010, designed by Sheila Betts.
Trumpington Local History Group
History of Trumpington War
Memorial
Arthur Brookes

This history of the Trumpington
War Memorial is based on a talk
given to the Trumpington Local
History Group on
26 November
2009.

It is one of a group of pages about
the
War Memorial. For additional
information, see:

1997 Leaflet
The Wilson Brothers

Trumpington and World War I:
Introduction.
There has never been any national policy on the erection of war
memorials, other than those laid down by planning authorities
where the erection of a structure has necessitated compliance
with certain regulations. Indeed for most of our history, war
memorials were constructed to celebrate victories and
remembering the dead was a secondary concern.

The Boer War was the first time that many memorials were
erected, followed soon after by World War I which saw
memorials constructed on a national and even global scale. A war
memorial can take on many forms, from a monument, statue,
plaque or more traditional symbol, such as the familiar structures
we associate with many village war memorials. It could be
argued that not all war memorials are classified as monuments,
whereas many spectacular monuments are regarded as war
memorials. The Menin Gate at Ypres, the American monument
at Montfaucon (near Verdun) and the Canadian monument at
Vimy Ridge are three such examples. Every year, the nation
marks Remembrance Sunday with a ceremony at the Cenotaph
in Whitehall. The Rev. H.V. Morton writing in one of his many
books says a cenotaph is an empty tomb and the Collins English
Dictionary goes further saying: "a tomb like monument,
especially a war memorial to a person whose body is elsewhere".

Many war memorials are in obscure, isolated and often forgotten
locations. We are very fortunate that in Trumpington and
Cambridge our war memorials are in very visible and prominent
places where they can be viewed on a regular basis and remind
us daily of the true cost of the freedom we so often take for
granted.
In Trumpington there was much
debate as to how the village would
commemorate the fallen of World War
I. It was not until May 1919 that a
Trumpington Parish Council
sub-committee considered various
proposals, including a memorial garden
with tennis courts, a clock tower and
the erection of an obelisk. Two
prominent members of the committee
were the Rev. Moule and Dr Wingate.
A Cambridge doctor, Dr Wingate had
married Viola Pemberton. (The
Trumpington estate is entitled to carry
the Pemberton name.) Although the
cost of the memorial was raised by
public subscription, the Pemberton
family contributed £200. The then
Parish Council accepted the memorial
on behalf of the parishioners on one
condition: no alterations were to be
made without the consent of a parish
meeting. No one then could have
foreseen there would be a second war,
by which time the village was
absorbed within the boundary of the
city.
The unveiling took place of the 11 December 1921 followed by a service in the church. It was
conducted by the Rev. Moule, the vicar of the parish, assisted by both a former vicar and the
pastor of the Free Church. A muffled peal of bells was rung and the Cambridge Town Silver
Band played sacred music in the churchyard. It was a solemn occasion and 800 copies of the
souvenir brochure were printed.
Cover of brochure about the Ceremony of Unveiling
and Dedication, Sunday 11 December 1921. Original
held by Shirley Brown.
Trumpington War Memorial is one of the finest examples of the work of Eric Gill. Jeremy
Pemberton had an uncle, Frank Rinder, the art correspondent of the
Glasgow Herald. The two
shared a mutual friendship with Edward Johnson, a calligraphic teacher at the Central School of
Arts and Crafts. It was under his tutorage that Eric Gill had learned his craft. Trumpington
Church already contained a memorial plaque to a member of the Pemberton family killed in
action in 1914; the inscribing was the work of Eric Gill and it was largely through his connection
with the family that he came to be associated with Trumpington war memorial.

Eric Gill came from a religious family; his parents were clergymen and missionaries. In the years
between the wars, Eric Gill was known for both his sculpture and letter carving. Although
sculpture had once been the main source of his public fame, this was to be overshadowed as
more adventurous artists emerged. Eric Gill is still regarded as a master of letter carving.  
Trumpington war memorial is unique in that it combines both examples of his skills.

It was not unusual for artists to have little connection with work attributed to them, much of the
work often being carried out by their pupils. Eric Gill was very much involved with
Trumpington. In The Homecoming by K.S. Inglis (1992) it was thought by David Kindersley
and his apprentices that the whole work was designed and executed by Gill. He submitted
designs to the memorial committee chaired by the Rev. Moule and in 1920 he was able to
comment in a letter to a committee member that "with regard to the carving of the panels and
the lettering, I will do these either myself or have them done by one of my pupils, which comes
to the same thing".

The decision to locate the war memorial on the site of what was once called Cross Hill proved
to be a wise choice. In 1921 excavations for the present memorial unearthed a large piece of
Barnack stone. Over two feet square at its base, the centre contained a socket, one foot square,
in which the remains of an original wooden shaft were found. This was the first real proof that
Cross Hill had once been an important part of the old village. Old post cards show the road
layout as it was both before and after the memorial was erected. It seems that the road to
Grantchester went both sides of the memorial, not just the one side as it does today.
Cross Hill, the War Memorial and Church Lane in the 1920s. From a photograph used by Percy Robinson during lectures in the 1920s-1940s.
The War Memorial in the 1920s.
From a photograph used by Percy
Robinson in the 1920s-1940s.
Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2016. Updated 23 May 2016.
Web site email:
admin@trumpingtonlocalhistorygroup.org
Outline view from the east, Trumpington War Memorial. Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
Cambridge War Memorial, with an effigy of a young soldier, The Homecoming, by Robert Tait McKenzie, 1921-22. Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
Cambridge War Memorial, with an effigy of a young soldier, The Homecoming, by Robert Tait McKenzie, 1921-22. Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
View of the War
Memorial from
the north east.
Photo: Arthur
Brookes, 1997.
Cambridge War Memorial.
Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
View from the south, Trumpington War Memorial. Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
View from the north, Trumpington War Memorial. Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
View from the north east, Trumpington War Memorial. Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
Views from the south, north and north east. Photos: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
The memorial contains four carved panels above which the names of the dead are listed. The
panels were carefully chosen to represent both St Mary and St Michael after whom the church is
dedicated. St Mary is shown with the babe in a cradle whilst St Michael is slaying a dragon. The
third panel is of St George slaying the dragon (St George being the patron saint of England) and
the final panel depicts a weary soldier surrounded by shell bursts and broken tree stumps making
his way home with his rifle slung over his shoulder.
South face, Trumpington War Memorial. Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
North face, Trumpington War Memorial. Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
East face, Trumpington War Memorial. Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
The south, north, east and west faces of the Memorial. Photos: Arthur Brookes,
1997, Andrew Roberts, 2015.
Constructed of Portland stone, the memorial has stood the test of time with the exception of the
west panel, the stone of which seems to be slightly more porous than the rest. Being a
sedimentary stone, the presence of fossils and soft indentations in Portland stone can lead to
premature weathering and this seems to be the case. In 1969 the top of the cross was broken
when someone attempted to climb it. The stone was re-fixed and the masons managed to clarify
which way the cross faced from the blacksmith nearby.

Apart from regular washing (this was last done in 1997), there is little to be done to the actual
memorial, stone weathers over time to produce a natural patina which can be easily damaged by
the use of abrasives. Unfortunately the cobbles surrounding the memorial regularly come loose
and perhaps this is something that could be addressed in the future. It should be possible to find
a better surface such as weathered reclaimed sets which will not spoil the appearance of the
memorial while at the same time making the surface easier to maintain.
The names of the World War II dead have since been
added to the base. It is widely regarded that this was the
work of David Kindersley, who had himself learned much
from Gill's skills and talents, having served his
apprenticeship under the great man himself.
Decorative relief of St Michael slaying the dragon, Trumpington War Memorial (east face). Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
Decorative relief of St George slaying the dragon, Trumpington War Memorial (north face). Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
Decorative relief of the Virgin Mary cradling the baby Jesus, Trumpington War Memorial (west face). Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
Decorative relief of a soldier, Trumpington War Memorial (south face). Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
Decorative reliefs:
St Michael slaying
the dragon,
St George slaying
the dragon,
Virgin Mary
cradling the baby
Jesus,
Portrait of a
soldier.
Photos: Arthur
Brookes, 1997.
View from the south, Trumpington War Memorial. Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
Memorial to World War II, Trumpington War Memorial. Photo: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
Memorial to the dead of World War II.
Photos: Arthur Brookes, 1997.
Two of those listed on the memorial are buried in the
Hauxton Road church yard. One is commemorated
with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission
headstone: Albert Charles Wilson who died of
injuries a week before the armistice was signed.
Whilst many Trumpington families suffered losses in
World War I, the
Wilson family suffered more than
most. Mr Wilson senior worked as a shepherd and
later as a roadman. The family lived in Workhouse
Yard, more commonly known as Whitlocks Yard.  
They had four sons, three of whom were killed in the
Great War, only the youngest son survived. The
family also lost a son-in-law.
Grave of Private Albert Charles Wilson, Trumpington Churchyard, Shelford Road, Trumpington. Photo: Arthur Brookes, November 2009.
Grave of Lieutenant Gerald Hugh Smyth, Trumpington Churchyard, Shelford Road, Trumpington. Photo: Arthur Brookes, November 2009.
Grave of Captain Arthur Hugh Bates Chaplin, Trumpington Churchyard, Shelford Road, Trumpington. Photo: Arthur Brookes, November 2009.
Graves in Trumpington Churchyard, Shelford
Road, Trumpington: Private Albert Charles
Wilson, Lieutenant Gerald Hugh Smyth and
Captain Arthur Hugh Bates Chaplin. Photos:
Arthur Brookes, November 2009.
Commemoration of Private Michael Charles Metcalfe, Cambridgeshire Regiment, died 26 September 1917. Cambridge Independent Press, 29 March 1918, p. 6.
Commemoration of Private Frank Mynott, Middlesex Regiment, died 16 October 1917. Cambridge Independent Press, 8 February 1918, p. 6.
Commemoration of Private Harold Scott, Suffolk Regiment, killed in action 26 September 1916. Cambridge Independent Press, 3 November 1916, p. 3.
Commemoration of Private James Richard Wilson, Suffolk Regiment, killed in action 30 August 1916. Cambridge Independent Press, 8 December 1916, p. 6.
Commemoration of Private Robert Wilson, Suffolk Regiment, died 1 July 1916. Cambridge Independent Press, 8 September 1916, p. 6.
Newspaper commemorations of Trumpington
soldiers:

Private Michael Charles Metcalfe,
Cambridgeshire Regiment, died 26 September
1917.
Cambridge Independent Press, 29
March 1918, p. 6.

Private Frank Mynott, Middlesex Regiment,
died 16 October 1917.
Cambridge
Independent Press
, 8 February 1918, p. 6.

Private Harold Scott, Suffolk Regiment, killed
in action 26 September 1916.
Cambridge
Independent Press
, 3 November 1916, p. 3.

Private James Richard Wilson, Suffolk
Regiment, killed in action 30 August 1916.
Cambridge Independent Press, 8 December
1916, p. 6.

Private Robert Wilson, Suffolk Regiment, died
1 July 1916.
Cambridge Independent Press, 8
September 1916, p. 6.
The west side of the War Memorial, with the panel of the Virgin Mary cradling the baby Jesus and names of the fallen in World War I, 17 February 2015.