The Twentieth Century Society

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Guards Division Memorial, London Photo © Sarah J Duncan
Click to see full size Photo © Sarah J Duncan

War memorials

London: Guards Division Memorial

Status: Listed Grade II
Architect: Harold Chalton Bradshaw & Gilbert Ledward, 1926
Location: Horse Guards Road, London

The memorial at Horse Guards Parade, commemorates 14,000 Guardsmen who died in the Great War, was unveiled in 1926. The competition for its design held in 1922 had been won by the architect Harold Chalton Bradshaw and the sculptor Gilbert Ledward. The two had met at the British School at Rome before the war, where the former had been the first Rome Scholar in Architecture and the latter the first Rome Scholar in Sculpture. The first design was inspired by Galloni’s Garibaldi monument in Rome but it then evolved into a stocky and severe stone obelisk, or pylon, against which stand a deliberatively stiff and formal row of five guardsmen. Ledward was instructed that each was to be representative of a typical soldier from each of the five divisions: Grenadiers, Coldstreams, Scots, Welsh and Irish Guards. Models were chosen from the Irish Guards and as the sculptor worked from the nude figure first they were instructed to strip off first: “Begorrah, Sir, and do the ladies have to do this too?” On the rear face of the memorial, facing St James’s Park, is a panel depicting an 18-pounder field gun being loaded.

Bradshaw had trained at the Liverpool School of Architecture and had been gassed and wounded in the war. In 1924 he became the first Secretary of the newly founded Royal Fine Art Commission and shortly afterwards he won two separate competitions for Memorials to the Missing proposed by the Imperial War Graves Commission: at Cambrai (eventually erected at Louverval in France) and at Lille (taken over the border to Ploegsteert in Belgium and where the flanking lions are by Ledward).

Gavin Stamp

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