|Trumpington Local History Group
History of Trumpington War
|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". (See footnote about David Jones and Eric Gill.)
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.
|The War Memorial in the 1920s.
From a photograph used by Percy
Robinson in the 1920s-1940s.
|Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2017. Updated 3 December 2017.
Web site email: firstname.lastname@example.org
|View of the War
the north east.
|Cambridge 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.
|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. (Done in 2014-15.)
|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.
St Michael slaying
St George slaying
cradling the baby
Portrait of a
|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.
|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.
|Newspaper commemorations of Trumpington
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.
| Information in Percy Robinson's lecture notes from the 1920-30s.
Footnote: The Imperial War Museum has an engraving titled 'Westward Ho!' of a tired looking
infantryman, engraved by Eric Gill from a drawing made by David Jones, mount dimensions
55.7 cm x 40.5 cm. This was used by Eric Gill as a guide when he was carving the infantryman
in relief on the panel for the War Memorial. David Jones served on the Western Front in the
Royal Welch Fusiliers during World War I, experiences he used in his epic poem In Parenthesis.
He worked with Eric Gill at Ditchling, Sussex.