Edgar Mobbs War Memorial
List Entry Summary
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
Name: Edgar Mobbs War Memorial
List entry Number: 1447457
Garden of Remembrance, Kettering Road, Northampton, Northamptonshire, NN1 4AH
The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District Type: District Authority
Parish: Non Civil Parish
National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.
Date first listed: 27-Jul-2017
Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.
This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.
List entry Description
Summary of Building
First World War memorial. Erected in 1921, by Alfred Turner.
Reasons for Designation
Edgar Mobbs War Memorial, erected in 1921 by Alfred Turner, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: it commemorates a popular sportsman who went on to become a decorated soldier;
* Rarity: as a rare example of a public war memorial dedicated to an individual;
* Sculptural interest: for its rare depiction of sport on a war memorial;
* Group value: with the Grade II listed Bradlaugh monument.
The aftermath of the First World War saw an unprecedented wave of public commemoration with tens of thousands of memorials erected across the country, both as a result of the huge impact the loss of three quarters of a million British lives had on communities and the official policy of not repatriating the dead, which meant that the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss. One such memorial was raised in Northampton, as permanent testament to the sacrifice made by one individual, Edgar Mobbs, in the First World War.
Edgar Roberts Mobbs, (1882–1917), a native of the town, captained the Northampton rugby union side (1907–13), and became a ‘living legend’ by scoring 177 tries. He also captained the Barbarians, the East Midlands (1906–13), and led the joint Midlands/East Midlands side which, on 2 December 1908, beat the Australians 16–5 at Leicester, their only defeat in England. He captained London and the Midlands against the West; the South against the North at Twickenham; and England against France in Paris. He was capped seven times for his country, playing at left wing three-quarter. He also played for Toulouse, where he became a great favourite, and played cricket for Buckinghamshire.
When war broke out, the 32 year old Mobbs was refused a commission on age grounds but joined as a private soldier and raised his own company of over 250 men, which formed D company of the 7th Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment. Mobbs was commissioned in October 1914, and had become battalion commander by 23 April 1916, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Wounded three times, he was gazetted DSO on 1 January 1917. He returned to his battalion for the third battle of Ypres, Passchendaele, and was killed in action at Zillebeke, Belgium, on 31 July 1917. His body was never found. Wartime cartoons depicted him charging the enemy and handing them off in typically robust fashion.
The memorial was funded by subscriptions from around the world, and cost £1500. The remaining £500 raised was donated to the East Midlands Rugby Union and funded a trophy at Bedford Modern School. The memorial was designed by Alfred Turner of London, and was originally located in the Market Square, Northampton. It was unveiled by Lord Lilford on 17 July 1921, at a ceremony attended by the Mayor of Northampton and representatives of the English Rugby Union.
The memorial was moved to Northampton’s new Garden of Remembrance in time for its dedication on 1 January 1937.
Alfred Turner (1874-1940) studied sculpture at the South London Technical Art School under William Silver Frith, and at the Royal Academy. He taught sculpture at the LCC Central School of Arts and Crafts and was a member of the Royal Academy and a fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. He sculpted a number of war memorials, including elements of the Grade II listed the War Cloister at St Mary's College, Winchester and the Grade II listed Fulham War Memorial.
First World War memorial. Erected in 1921, by Alfred Turner.
MATERIALS: Bronze sculpture on Portland stone.
DESCRIPTION: the Edgar Mobbs War Memorial comprises a draped female figure in bronze, representing the Goddess of Fame, or the Glory of the Dead, holding a laurel wreath in her left hand and a staff in her right. The figure stands on a 6m tall cenotaph, itself stood on a three stepped base. The front (east) face of the cenotaph holds a bronze bust of Lt Col Mobbs in uniform, with a wreath behind his head. The south face depicts a rugby match, and the north face depicts men in battle. Contemporary reports state that the central figure in each represents Mobbs, but the depictions are not rendered in enough detail to identify individuals.
The east face of the cenotaph is inscribed: LIEUT – COL / EDGAR R MOBBS / D.S.O. / COMMANDING OFFICER / 7TH BATTALION / NORTHAMPTONSHIRE REGIMENT / KILLED IN ACTION / JULY 31ST 1917 / AGED 35 / O VALIANT HEARTS WHO TO YOUR GLORY CAME, / THROUGH DUST OF CONFLICT AND THROUGH BATTLE FLAME / TRANQUIL YOU LIE YOUR KNIGHTLY VIRTUE PROVED / YOUR MEMORY HALLOWED IN THE LAND YOU LOVED.
The bust itself is inscribed: HE DID HIS / DUTY / EVEN UNTO / DEATH.
The reverse of the monument is inscribed: ERECTED BY SUBSCRIPTIONS / OF ADMIRERS THE WORLD OVER / TO THE MEMORY OF A / GREAT AND GALLANT / SOLDIER SPORTSMAN / WHEN THE GREAT WAR BROKE OUT / HE FOUNDED / "MOBBS COMPANY" / JOINED AS A PRIVATE AND ROSE / TO COMMAND THE BATTALION / TO WHICH IT BELONGED.
Books and journals
'Memorial to Colonel E.R. Mobbs' in Bedfordshire Times and Independent, , Vol. 3941, (22 July 1921), 12
'Unveiling of the Mobbs Memorial' in Northampton Mercury, , Vol. 10498, (22 July 1921), 9
Edgar R Mobbs DSO (1882-1917) – Legendary Soldier Sportsman from the Olney and District Historical Society website, accessed 15 May 2017 from http://www.mkheritage.org.uk/odhs/articles/edgar-roberts-mobbs-dso-1882-1917/
K. G. Sheard, ‘Mobbs, Edgar Roberts (1882–1917)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2010 , accessed 15 May 2017 from http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/64578
The extraordinary Edgar Mobbs - rugby star and leader of men from the Royal British Legion website, accessed 15 May 2017 from http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/community/stories/remembrance/sport-remembers-the-extraordinary-edgar-mobbs-rugby-star-and-leader-of-men/
War Memorials Online, accessed 15 May 2017 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/136424/
War Memorials Register, accessed 15 May 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/14949
National Grid Reference: SP7609460840
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End of official listing