war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper


Unveiling the Memorial - Programme

(a transcription is below the image)

final page of the programme, describing the Memorial and how the form of the Memorial was decided

with thanks to Marilyn Friend


The following notes may explain the reasons for the Committee’s decision as to the type of Monument to erect in Dover.

The function of War Memorials may be said to be twofold.

Primarily they are the result of the desire felt by most of us to record, in some fitting and permanent way, the gratitude we feel towards those who nobly sacrificed their all to save our Country from becoming the vassal of a foreign power; but also our wish to acknowledge and show our sympathy toward those who suffered, and do still, so terribly, from a sense of personal loss.

Few of us wish to perpetuate, by monuments, the joy of victory, for its own sake – the extent of victory is, and will be, felt by all, now and hereafter; and since this war was one of aggression on the part of the enemy, its cessation by our effort is our reward.

By creating and erecting a permanent Memorial, we consciously or unconsciously record the character of our intention.

Whether we wish it so or not, the result will speak to and influence the young and those of the generations that follow, it is for us, therefore, to very carefully consider the real meaning of our message to them.

On the one hand the employment of mere masses of masonry and metal alone are rather pagan methods, and apt to show a lack of spiritual conviction.

The young may be impressed for a moment by their size or costliness, or memories of suffering may be awakened in the minds of the present generation.

Realistic armed effigies, however efficiently done, be they either used singly or in groups, may illustrate, more or less, the style of dress worn by combatants, etc., and the types of engines of war, or other means of destruction or succour used in the war.

These will undoubtedly familiarise the mind of the young with such things, and possibly excite the desire to create more deadly ones, or the means of curing the evils resulting from their use.

Records of this kind can probably be more accurately and economically preserved by illustrative paintings and writings in history books, etc.

On the other hand, a simple symbolic monument, placed in the midst of the busy throng of everyday life, may speak to us with the still small voice of love of duty and self-sacrifice, reminding us of the choice each individual born amongst us must make for himself.

The noble example of self-sacrifice the monument commemorates, may help us to realise that the virtue of our lives be according to how freely we are willing to give them for our fellow-men without thought of reward, except that which we shall know in the giving.

Having in view the character of the site available, with its interesting background of Maison Dieu House, and also the opportunity which presented itself of providing a pleasant open space of green grass immediately adjoining the Municipal buildings and main thoroughfare, the Committee very wisely adopted a treatment which would secure this and at the same time afford a charming setting for the Memorial in the heart of the town.

It will be obvious that in designing for such a site, it was essential that the Monument be of a rather low and spreading form than vertical in mass, which would have been likely to dwarf the interesting old Elizabethan building and give the appearance of being set in too confined a space to give it its true value.

The appearance of the whole work is of a broad and simple character, and while being extremely permanent and massive has been designed with granite kerbing surrounding and enclosing the grass, so that one feels not only the Monument itself, but every inch of the site is one complete Memorial.

The Monument consists of a central pedestal and two low wing walls mounted on a plinth some 18 in. in height – the whole forming a solid base of grey Cornish granite some 15 ft. in length, approached on either side by paved paths running parallel to the roadway.

About 14 ft. of grass separating these approach paths and the Monument from the street pavement.

A bronze Roll of Honour, 14 ft. in length, containing some 700 names, modelled in bold relief, so as to be easily read, is mounted on the flanking walls on either side of the main central granite die which bears the inscription, in bronze letters:-

In glorious memory of the men of Dover who gave their
lives for the Country in the Great War – 1914-1919

Surmounting the inscription are the arms of the Borough in bronze relief.

A richly modelled wreath of laurel is placed on either side.

The central symbolic feature of bronze is a life-sized figure of Youth reaching to grasp a flaming cross, while at his feet is a tangled mass of thorns, representing the difficulties in the path of life.

His hand enveloped in flames, symbolic of suffering that may destroy the body, but cannot harm the spirit.

An interesting and novel method of obviating the use of unsightly receptacles to contain flowers, so often seen, has been introduced in the form of 6 bronze vessels sunk into the granite at intervals immediately below the Roll of Honour and forming an integral part of the design.

with thanks to PanHandle for the transcription

Copyright 2006 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved