To protect and promote the spirit and substance of the work of Sir Edwin Lutyens OM
Location: Victoria Park, Leicester, LE1 7RY
The city war memorial for Leicester had an unusually long and messy gestation period. Lutyens was appointed to design it in 1919 and produced a novel design for a Tree Cathedral that contained a cenotaph and Stone of Remembrance. Frustratingly, although a model was made and exhibited, no photos or drawings of it seem to have survived.
Fundraising proved to be a problem and, by the time that building tenders were received, there was a shortfall of £10,000 from the lowest bid. As a consequence, Lutyens was asked to think again but, in a move that bears little apparent logic, was asked to design a memorial arch which, he pointed out, would be an even more expensive construction!
Nevertheless the War Memorial Committee pressed on and, with there still being insufficient funds, took out a bank overdraft to cover the £10,000 deficit , with a number of members of the committee standing as guarantors in a personal capacity. It was a highly unusual move but enabled construction to start and the memorial, which is one of the largest in the UK, was finally unveiled by a local widow, Mrs Elizabeth Butler, on 4 July 1925. Despite strenuous efforts to raise the money there was still not enough to pay the contractor and the guarantors had to make good the shortfall of £5,500.