Since 1921 when the village turned out for a grand ceremony to mark the cutting of The Cross and a dedication of the War Memorial engraved with the names of the fallen in the Great War, this particular spot above the village has held a special place in the hearts of many Lenham residents. It was the first place to show people who came to visit.
It was a shock to me when it was pointed out when we issued the Neighbourhood Plan in 2014 that The Cross was totally unregistered and virtually unknown outside of Lenham. I therefore set about the task of getting it registered as a National Monument and War Memorial. It sounds a simple enough task and it was with the assistance of Historic England, many photographs and history provided by Amy Myers’ book, Lenham and the Great War, and local residents.
Historic England’s citation includes:
The memorial is rather unusual when compared to other war memorials as it was carved by hand directly into the chalk of the North Downs as a hill-figure cross and prominent landmark by Mr Freddie Baldock, with help from local volunteers. The memorial was designed by the village school headmaster Mr C H Groom. The gently sloping rural landscape location of the memorial adds to its special interest, contrasting well with the bright white chalk.
The war memorial at Lenham, Kent, a chalk-cut hill-figure of a cross with separate enclosure, of 1922, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* As an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this local community, and the sacrifice it has made in the conflicts of the C20;
* As an unusual type of memorial, striking in its scale and form;
* With the inscribed memorial stones, now located within the churchyard of St Mary’s Church (National Heritage List for England 1086103, Grade I).
I am obviously pleased that Historic England has recognized the unique history and value of The Cross!
Mike Cockett, Lenham Parish Councillor