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The Tower Hill Memorial

 

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

London has many memorials to those who have been killed in the First and Second World Wars, however one of the largest and probably least known in the Tower Hill Memorial. Located in Trinity Square in front of Trinity House, The Tower Hill Memorial is actually two major Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials. The memorials are dedicated to civilian merchant sailors and fishermen who were killed as a result of enemy action and have no known grave.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The first memorial is the Mercantile Marine War Memorial which covers the First World War was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and unveiled in 1928 and the Merchant Seamen’s Memorial which covers the Second World War was designed by Sir Edward Maufe and unveiled in 1955. There is a smaller third memorial which was added to the site in 2005 which commemorates merchant sailors who were killed in the 1982 Falklands War.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The memorials bring to the attention of the public the heavy losses sustained by merchant shipping. In the First World War it was estimated that 17,000 lives and over 3000 British and Empire registered commercial vessels where sunk as a result of enemy action. Merchant shipping losses in the Second World War were significantly higher with 4,786 ships sunk, with the loss of some 32,000 lives.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The site was chosen because of its long maritime history with Trinity House being built in 1796 and the land was owned by the Crown who gave permission for the memorials after a special Act of Parliament was required.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Mercantile Marine War Memorial is a classical style corridor with bronze panels on the wall which have the names of the missing.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Merchant Seamen’s Memorial was intended to complement the first memorial and features a sunken garden, around the walls of the garden are bronze panels with the names of the missing. Among the panels are relief sculptures by Charles Wheeler representing the seven seas and two sentries, a Merchant Navy sailor and officer stand at the top of the steps.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Merchant Navy Association unveiled the Falklands memorial which is the work of Gordon Newton in 2005. It consists of a 3-metre bronze sundial on a granite base with a large bronze anchor in the centre of the dial and bronze plaques around the base which record the names of the dead.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Another memorial in the complex reminds visitors that this was the site of the Tower Hill scaffold where over 100 people were executed.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Despite being close to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, the memorials are often overlooked by visitors but are often visited by those who have lost friends and relatives in the Merchant Navy. Because those commemorated have no known grave, these memorials are an important spot for people to reflect on the loss of their loved ones.

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