After the First World War many thousands of memorials were produced in the United Kingdom. Hundreds featured figurative imagery, the largest project of public sculpture the country has ever seen.

Geoff Archer’s book explains how, why, by whom – and for whom – memorials were produced. ‘The Glorious Dead’ is the first comprehensive analysis of the subject. Lavishly illustrated with the author’s own photographs of soldiers and sailors, allegories of Peace, Grief, Victory and Death and images of women workers, horses and biplanes, it concludes with lists of figurative memorials by date, design, location and sculptor.

The greatest sculptors of the 1920s were called upon to render in marble and bronze the nation’s remembrance and grief – George Frampton, Albert Toft, Goscombe John, C.S. Jagger, Gilbert Ledward, Derwent Wood, Alexander Carrick, Walter Marsden, Louis Roslyn and many more. Not all are now well known but after nine decades their work can be viewed in a new light and their contributions to the history of 20th century British sculpture rightfully restored to centre stage.

Chapter 1: Pro Patria

This chapter considers the significance of pre-war constructions of masculinity and militarism which led to the clamour to enlist when war was declared, and of patriotic attitudes reflected in numerous images of Britannia and St George.

Chapter 2: Men Who March Away

Despite the popularity of allegorical images, the most common figure on civic war memorials was that of the ordinary soldier. Soldiers, sailors, airmen – and the women and children left behind as men ‘marched away’ – are all considered here.

Chapter 3: The Women of Britain Say ‘Go!’

The primary role of women at the start of the war seemed to be the encouragement of men’s enlistment. This chapter questions associated assumptions of men’s natural aggression and examines the illustration of the serviceman as the defender of women and children.

Chapter 4: Strong, Sensible and Fit

Positive images of women – as nurses and workers in factories and on the land, and as members of the Women’s Services – are looked at here, as are depictions of men in ‘reserved’ occupations who contributed to the war effort on the home front.

Chapter 5: Under Fire

The impact of modern weapons had a devastating effect on men’s bodies. How the serious injury of the serviceman, both mental and physical, was dealt with during the war, and by post-war memorialists, is examined in this chapter.

Chapter 6: The Great Sacrifice

The attitude of the church, the sanctification of the self-sacrificing serviceman and the use of religious imagery in memorial sculpture are all discussed here.

Chapter 7: A Narrative of War

This chapter looks at the role of narrative in memorial schemes, not only in the use of relief panels but also in the organisation of architectonic, textual and figurative imagery to ‘tell a story’ of the war.

Chapter 8: Peace

The presentation of both realistic and allegorical responses to the declaration of peace – with celebratory images of the returning soldier and figures of Peace, Victory and Liberty – are examined here.

Chapter 9: We Will Remember Them

The organisational and decision-making processes of memorialisation, from the formation of war memorial committees to the choice of imagery,  siting and the commissioning of the sculptor, are discussed at some length in this chapter.

Chapter 10: Memory and Mourning

The role of war memorials as both ‘sites of memory’ and ‘sites of mourning’ is discussed and illustrated here with appropriate examples.

Chapter 11: Regeneration

A post-war concern with reconstruction included a perceived need for a return to the ‘normality’ of the pre-war years. This final chapter aims to show how positive images of the athletic male body and more dependent images of women was a part of the discourse of regeneration at this time.

416 pages

274 b & w illustrations

"Archer is celebrating the last great flourishing of figurative British sculpture. His account is exhaustive, rich in detail and anecdote, taking his subject in all aspects of its imagery ... With its many photographs and copious appendices, it is a wonderful gazetteer, for those of us already hooked, to be put in the car on our travels around the country.”

William Packer (‘The Times’, 12 December 2009)


The story of public sculpture in Britain is the story of the self-promotion of royalty, the recognition of local and national heroes from the Napoleonic wars to the celebrities of today, of commemoration and memorialisation, the extravagant expression of visual idea and the creation of iconic images.

It is a story which moves from questions of who the work is of to who the work is by. But is also a question of who the work is for, with the story of the iconoclasm of the Reformation and the Interregnum, of the removal and destruction of the despised, of the imposition of unwanted works on an unimpressed public, and the verbal attacks of the establishment against the shock of the new.

‘Public Sculpture in Britain’ examines for the first time the changing face of what the author describes as ‘a fascinating free exhibition of three-dimensional art’.

Chapter One:     MONARCHY

This first chapter moves from depiction of kings and queens on Eleanor Crosses and medieval cathedral fronts to the iconoclasm of the first Elizabethan age and the Interregnum, then on to memorials to Prince Albert – most notably London’s Albert Memorial – and to Queen Victoria, plus more recent commemorations from Edward VII to Elizabeth II. The work of a wide range of sculptors is discussed, including Francis Chantrey, Alfred Gilbert, Thomas Thornycroft and Thomas Brock.


Memorials to Admiral Nelson after his death at Trafalgar – at Birmingham, Liverpool and other locations – culminated in the column in Trafalgar Square, while monuments to Wellington and other heroes of the Napoleonic Wars were widespread. More heroes of the nineteenth century and commemorations of those who fought and served in the First and Second World Wars, from Earl Haig and Edith Cavell to Earl Montgomery are discussed. Mathew Coates Wyatt, Richard Westmacott, Harry Bates and Alfred Hardiman are amongst the sculptors whose work is examined here.

Chapter Three:    THE GREAT AND THE GOOD

The death of Sir Robert Peel in 1850 resulted in numerous memorial statues, leading to the ‘statuemania’ of the Victorian era, with commemorations of 'the Great and the Good’, from politicians to poets, engineers and explorers. ‘Eros’, the memorial to the Earl of Shaftesbury, adopted a symbolic approach, while Jacob Epstein’s ‘Rima’ illustrated the heroine of the author’s novel rather than the author himself. Today’s equivalent of 'the Great and the Good’ – pop stars, comedians, footballers et al – have been immortalised by such sculptors as James Butler, Graham Ibbeson, Martin Jennings and Philip Jackson.

Chapter Four:    WAR MEMORIALS

The chapter begins with 19th century examples – most notably John Bell’s Crimean Memorial in Waterloo Place – but quickly moves on to discussion of the numerous memorials to the dead of the Boer Wars, erected in the first few years of the 20th century. By far the majority of war memorials in Britain date from the aftermath of the First World War. The range of figurative memorials is examined in some depth, as is the work of sculptors such as William Goscombe John, Francis Derwent Wood, Charles Sergeant Jagger and Gilbert Ledward. Fewer memorials were produced after the Second World War, but memorials to the dead of conflicts both past and present continue to be built and the chapter ends with discussion of the Armed Services memorial at Alrewas.


With the ‘New Sculpture’ at the end of the 19th century, sculptors such as Hamo Thornycroft and George Frampton took an increasing interest in architectural work. Many examples of architectural sculpture in the 20th century, from Jacob Epstein’s carvings for the BMA building in the Strand to Charles Wheeler’s work for the Bank of England, have proved controversial. Well-known practitioners such as Eric Gill, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth are discussed, as are lesser known sculptors such as William Mitchell, Peter Peri and Walter Ritchie.


The promotion of modernism in the second half of the 20th century is examined in detail, from the first open-air exhibition in Battersea Park in 1948, sculpture at the Festival of Britain in 1951, and the inclusion of sculpture in the New Towns planned in the aftermath of World War Two and in the new schools and universities built at this time. The work of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth is prominently featured. Such work is placed in an historical context with discussion of earlier examples of ‘fine art’ in public – placed in parks or adorning drinking fountains. The chapter ends with the struggle for acceptance of such projects as Victor Pasmore’s Apollo Pavilion at Peterlee and the 1972 Peter Stuyvesant Foundation City Sculpture Project.

Chapter Seven:    PUBLIC ART

The final chapter looks at the most recent examples of public sculpture – or public art as it is now more often referred to – from the first sculpture parks and sculpture trails and the display of sculpture in the Garden Festivals of the 1980s, to the ‘landmark’ sculptures of the 21st century. The role of the Arts Council and the influence of the ‘Per Cent for Art’ scheme which encouraged the inclusion of sculpture in new urban developments, both public and private, is examined, and works by Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Eduardo Paolozzi and David Mach are prominently featured, as are such high-profile projects as Rachel Whiteread’s ‘House’ and sculptures for the ‘Fourth Plinth’ .

Geoff Archer has written three books: 'The Glorious Dead: Figurative Sculpture of British First World War Memorials', published in 2009 by Frontier Publishing; 'Public Sculpture in Britain: A History', published in 2013, again by Frontier Publishing; and 'Not Forgotten: First World War Memorials In and Around Macclesfield’, self published in 2016.

Photos by Geoff Archer - Blackpool, Newcastle, Derry, Rawtenstall, St Anne's on Sea, Portadown and Liverpool Post Office

Photos by Geoff Archer


Macclesfield has over forty memorials commemorating those who fought and died in the First World War. Many more are to be found in the surrounding towns and villages.  Memorials take many forms and can be found not only in public spaces but also in a wide range of institutions, including schools, churches, clubs, village halls, mills and factories.

The aim of this book is to reveal the full range of memorials produced in and around Macclesfield, both during and after the war, and to provide some explanation of the processes of memorialisation, of the social and artistic contexts in which memorials were planned, and of the intended meanings and interpretations of what was produced.

The book features memorials in Alderley, Bollington, Buxton, Chelford, Congleton, Gawsworth, Henbury, Knutsford, Leek, Macclesfield, Mobberley, Peover, Rainow, Rushton, Sutton, Wilmslow and many more.


Chapter 1         Macclesfield at War

Chapter 2         Wartime Memorialisation

Chapter 3         Postwar Memorialisation

Chapter 4         The Park Green Memorial


Appendix A    First World War Memorials in Macclesfield

Appendix B    First World War Memorials in the Towns and Villages Around Macclesfield   

170 pages

136 illustrations, mostly in colour


"Mr Archer covers an extremely wide range of works, including all the most famous memorials, while successfully avoiding a series of lists. Public art has always been controversial, and he gives lively accounts of such disputes. As a result, he has produced a very readable and enjoyable book."

John Sankey (' The Victorian Web')

"Geoff Archer has had the temerity to attempt a history of the subject, embracing the whole of Britain ... It is a considerable endeavour.  The result is impressive, and ... makes stimulating reading. In addition, the mainly coloured illustrations are magnificent."

Philip Ward-Jackson ('Sculpture Journal' Vol.23, Issue 1)