Lewes war memorial by ‘extraordinary artist’

Lewes war memorial
Lewes war memorial

The sight of the elegant War Memorial in Lewes as you look down School Hill towards Harveys Brewery is surely one of the town’s most beautiful vistas.

But does anyone know just how high profile the architect was who designed it?

English Heritage thought the town’s War Memorial was so important it is now Grade II star listed.

And its architect Vernon March, who is considered an extraordinary artist, was also responsible for the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa and the Cape Town Cenotaph in South Africa.

English Heritage’s senior designation adviser Paul Stamper said: “Upgrading Lewes War Memorial to Grade II* places it among the uppermost 5.5 per cent of listed buildings.

“Designed by the renowned artist Vernon March, it is a poignant reminder of the losses the town suffered during the First World War.

“As we commemorate the centenary of that conflict, it fully merits listing at Grade II*.”

More than 250 men from Lewes died in the First World War and the artist Vernon March answered the call to create a memorial to them.

Unveiled in 1922 by General Sir Henry Crichton Slater, a local landowner who had been the General Officer Commander-in-Chief Southern Command in 1916-19, it was dedicated by the Bishop of Lewes.

Vernon March was untutored but became the youngest exhibitor at the Royal Academy in 1907, at the age of 16.

His greatest achievement is considered to be the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa and the memorial in Lewes is on a par with that.

A bronze statue of Victory, facing east towards Flanders, stands on top of the memorial.

On the west face is a seated bronze figure of Liberty holding a torch.

And on the east face is a similar figure of Peace with a dove on her left shoulder.

Lewes’ War Memorial was one of just six nationwide to be upgraded to mark the centenary of WWI.