Reginald Blomfield

Reginald Blomfield

The Cross of Sacrifice display at the Ypres Tower

Among the recent additions to the Ypres Tower displays is the model for the Cross of Sacrifice which Sir Reginald Blomfield (1856-1942) designed for the Imperial War Museum to commemorate soliders who lost their lives in the Ypres Salient during WWI. but have no marked graves.

The display has been donated by Priscilla Ryan and Paul Blomfield, grandchildren of Sir Reginald.

Copies of the cross are present in most Commonwealth war cemeteries around the world. There is one in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, another in Arlington Cemetery, Washington D.C. , honouring fallen Canadians. The cross is usually of limestone on the face of which is mounted a bronze cross with the blade pointing down.

The Menin Gate

The most famous of Sir Reginald’s war memorials is the magnificent Memorial Gate to the Missing at Ypres, Belgium, built by the British Government and unveiled in 1927. It is located on one of the main roads out of the town that led Allied soldiers to the front line. Some 300,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed in the Ypres Salient. 90,000 of whom have no known graves.

The large Hall of Memory contains names on stone panels of 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Salient but whose bodies have never been identified or found; for lack of sufficient room here others are listed on another memorial. At 8 p.m. each evening buglers from the local fire brigade sound the Last Post.

Sir Reginald and Rye

Sir Reginald was well-known before the war as a prolific British architect, garden designer and author of the Victorian and Edwardian period.

In 1886 he married the daughter of Henry Burra of Rye where he designed Saltcote Place and many of the houses on the Playden ridge. including his own on Point Hill. One he let to the American novelist Henry James. He also designed the Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital,

Other pre-war projects included the building or renovation of country great houses (e.g. Chequers), university buildings (e.g.Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford) amd commercial and buildings (e.g. completion of the Quadrant in Regents Street, London).

And that’s not all:

Did you know that Sir Reginald designed the pylons you see throughout the country?  His familiar steel lattice pylon design has been in use since the 1920s and there are some 88,000 of them throughout the country.

However it  is now about to be replaced by a new T-shaped design, winner of a competition to develop a new generation of pylons to keep up with the UK’s goals for greener energy.

He also renovated and extended country houses. One of these was Chequers, country residence of the Prime Minister.

First posted in Notable People, Ypres Tower Posts on 10th October 2011
Last updated: 2nd December 2012
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