Trumpington War Memorial
A large roll of honour board was unveiled in the Church of St Mary and St Michael at Trumpington in September 1915. This named 69 men from Trumpington who had enlisted, two of whom had already been killed in action and one invalided out of the Army. One of those killed was Captain Francis Percy Campbell-Pemberton, 2nd Life Guards, only son of Canon T Percy Pemberton and Mrs Patience Francis Sophia Pemberton of Trumpington Hall. He was killed in Belgium on 19 October 1914 and a memorial tablet to him was commissioned from Eric Gill and placed inside the church in 1915. This may have been through a connection between the Pemberton family and Edward Johnson, who had been Eric Gill’s calligraphy tutor. It would appear to be this prior connection with Eric Gill that led to him being invited to design the village memorial at the end of the war.
Eric Gill (1882-1940) was one of the most celebrated lettercutters, engravers, typographers and sculptors of his time. Before the First World War he built his reputation on his work as a lettercutter and engraver, but began to sculpt in 1909, preferring the unconventional direct carving style of practice. After the First World War he was commissioned to design war memorials including at Bisham, Briantspuddle, Chirk, Leeds University and South Harting. His work later included large architectural sculptures, including figures for the exterior of Broadcasting House and a large relief entitled The Creation of Adam at the League of Nations Palace, Geneva.
Trumpington War Memorial Committee was formed in May 1919 as a sub-committee of the Parish Council. There was much discussion about the form the memorial should take. Initial suggestions included a clock tower, an obelisk, and gardens with tennis courts. It was the family at Trumpington Hall which took responsibility for corresponding with Gill. His letters went to either Dr or Mrs Wingate; Mrs Wingate was Viola Pemberton, daughter of Canon and Mrs Pemberton and sister to Captain Francis Percy Campbell-Pemberton who had been killed. The Pembertons were heavily involved, as well as being the largest donors to the project, giving £200. Gill met with Dr Wingate in Trumpington on 24 January 1920 to discuss the commission. Gill sent a design for a carved cross shortly after and an estimated cost of £400 to carry out all of the work, excluding carriage and installation, and agreed to make a model.
By September 1920, Trumpington's War Memorial Committee had approved Gill’s design and were appealing for £400 from the public. Gill himself appears to have been heavily involved in the work, possibly carrying out all of the carving himself or, as was often his practice, touching up the work which an apprentice had carried out according to his design. He wrote to Dr Wingate in October 1921 enclosing plans for the inscriptions and drawings of the four proposed carved panels, which would illustrate St Mary with baby, a rare St Michael slaying the dragon (a devil), St George slaying the dragon, and a tired soldier returning from the front (this panel based on a David Jones design). St Mary and St Michael are the patron saints of the parish church.
The memorial was erected at the junction of High Street and Church Lane, just outside the entrance to the drive of Trumpington Hall. The site was known as Cross Hill and the remains of an early cross base were discovered there when the foundations for the war memorial were being dug.
It was unveiled by Charles Adeane, CB, JP, Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, on 11 December 1921 and followed by a church service led by the parish vicar, Rev. Moule.
Eight Second World War names were added later, possibly by David Kindersley, who had been one of Eric Gill’s later apprentices. An additional Second World War name was added in 2014.
The memorial was originally set into bare ground, later surrounded by a cobbled surface (since at least the 1960s). In 2014, a Flemish clay paving was installed around the memorial.
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