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Exeter's Northernhay War Memorial

Page updated 5 June 2009

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This memorial for World War One, to the dead of Exeter, was dedicate on 29th April, 1923 with pupils from Exeter schools in attendance. It cost £6,000 and is considered to be one of the finest of its type in the country. It was placed at a prime location at the top of the entrance drive from Queen Street,close to the site of Northernhay House that had been demolished at the turn of the century.

The Bronze Figures

Around the base there are figures in bronze of a soldier at rest, a sailor astride the hull of a ship with a figurehead in the form of the Exeter City Coat of Arms, a prisoner of war inspired by the work done by Lady Owen and a group of Exonians with prisoners of war in Germany and a VAD nurse alongside a sheaf of corn and a shrapnel shell, representing agricultural and arms work done by woman.

The 8 ft high figure of Victory trampling over the Demon of Tyranny and Wrong, also in bronze, stands on the top of the granite pedestal. The bronze figures were cast by the Morris Art Foundry and A B Burton Foundry. Morris' were also responsible for the figure of Justice on top of the Old Bailey, and A B Burton for the bronzes on the Cenotaph.

A bronze plaque on the monument is dedicated to the 958 men and women of Exeter who died between 1914 and 1918. Additional bronze plaques for the dead of the Second World War are on the base. The Devon granite pedestal was from Blackingstone Quarry, Moretonhampstead and was quarried and erected by Messrs. Easton & Son of Northernhay Street. The total height is 31 ft on a 21 ft square.

The memorial was dedicated by the Bishop of Crediton and unveiled by the Right Honourable Admiral David Beatty. The Last Post was played by a trumpeter on Athelston's Tower to conclude the ceremony.

The Artist

It is the work of John Angel FRBS, a local artist, who at the time lived at 47 Okehampton Road, St Thomas. Angel served an apprenticeship with J Wippel and Co., and also attended Exeter School of Art. He initially worked for Herbert Read, an ecclesiastical restorer, before going on to the Lambeth School under Sir George Frampton RA. Angel was awarded a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy of Art after winning many prizes at Lambeth.

Returning to Exeter in 1912, he slowly acquired a high reputation and was elected a Member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1919. In the same year he was commissioned to create the Exeter War Memorial. After this commission, Angel emigrated to the United States, where he worked on the New York cathedrals of St Patrick's and St John the Divine.

Source: Express and Echo

Exeter War Memorial This photo by Charles Keeping shows the memorial, just after its dedication in April 1923, hence the wreaths. The base is not finished.

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