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Oxford War Memorials: Summertown

Summertown Parish Hall (on the junction of Portland Road and the Banbury Road) is in itself a First World War Memorial. The Vicar of Summertown, the Revd R. M. Hay, presided at the public meeting where the decision to build the hall was made; Alderman Francis Twining gave £500 to purchase the site; and Alderman Edmund Brooks negotiated the site’s purchase. The architect of the hall was Gilbert T. Gardner, and it was built from the stones of the former St John the Baptist Church in Summertown. It was opened by the Revd C. E. Williams in September 1925.

Summertown War Memorial cross in the garden was erected four years before the hall: it was unveiled by General Sir Arthur Phayre, K.C.B. and dedicated by Bishop Shaw, Archdeacon of Oxford, in the autumn of 1921. The architects were Messrs Boulton & Paul Ltd of Norwich. It comprises a Latin cross with a tapering shaft bearing a metal cross of sacrifice. This stands on a plint, which it turn stands on a three-stepped base.

The war memorial is Grade II listed (List Entry No. 1438950)

Summertown war memorial from Banbury Road

The War Memorial cross was presumably designed to be viewed from the main Banbury Road; but it is now largely obscured by the memorial hall’s hedge (above). The photograph below (taken in 2012) shows the cross from the back:

Summertown war memorial from the back

There are no names on the cross. The two inscriptions on the base of the cross are as follows:

Inscription on front

West side
(front)

 

 

IN THE WAY
OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
IS LIFE
AND IN
THE PATHWAY
THEREOF
THERE IS NO
DEATH

 

[Proverbs 12:28]

East side
(back)

 

 

IN PROUD
AND GRATEFUL
REMEMBRANCE
OF THE MEN OF
SUMMERTOWN WHO
NOBLY GAVE THEIR
LIVES FOR KING
AND COUNTRY AND
RIGHTEOUSNESS
IN THE GREAT WAR
1914 – 1918

 

Added below later:

1939 – 1945

Press reports
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 5 March 1919: Photographs of the three people involved in the setting up of the War Memorial Hall in Summertown (the Revd R. M. Hay, and Aldermen Twining & Brooks)
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 14 April 1920, p. 12: Architect’s drawing of the hall (Messrs Boulton & Paul Ltd, Norwich)
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 5 October 1921: Unveiling and dedication of war memorial: front page (dedication by Bishop Shaw) and four photographs on p. 6: (1) General view of the service; (2) Alderman Brooks placing the Memorial Committee’s wreath; (3) Fatherless children laying flowers; and (4) Buglers of the OBLI sounding the Last Post
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 14 January 1925: Photograph of a design by Gilbert T. Gardner, architect, for the exterior of Summertown War Memorial Church Hall
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 8 April 1925: Photographs of the new hall under construction
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 23 September 1925: Photograph of the recently completed War Memorial Church Hall
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 30 September 1925: Photograph of opening ceremony
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 25 November 1925: Photograph of a concert given in the new hall in aid of the Church Hall Fund.

© Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 7 March, 2017

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