Tottenham War Memorial, by L. F. Roslyn

View of Tottenham War Memorial figure, by L.F. Roslyn.

A couple of minutes walk from Seven Sisters Station in North London is the Tottenham War Memorial. It consists of a tall, solid square column, rather cenotaphlike, made in Portland Stone, on which stands a winged Angel of Peace in bronze. On the front of the column is affixed a downward pointing sword, thus acting as a crucifix, also in bronze, and above this and around the sides of the top of the column are carved wreaths with small hanging draperies. The inscription towards the base of the column is that it was ‘Erected by the inhabitants of Tottenham in proud and grateful memory of her sons who fell in the Great War’, with the dates for the Second World War added underneath those of the First.

Our figure of the angel wears light Classical drapes, symmetrically disposed, bare feet resting together, standing somewhat on tiptoe, on a small globe, which is wreathed in oak leaves with acorns and ribbon ties at the sides. She is youthful, pure of face, but it is an Edwardian rather than Classical face in its proportions, with a turn-of-the Century haircut, short to show the long, elegant neck, and symmetrical. Her physique too is not Classical, for she is slender rather than muscular, and has long, narrow hands rather than the powerful ones of the ancient Greek. In them, she holds a wreath of olive leaves in front of her chest. Her drapes are very light to show the curves of her figure, and the style chosen by the artist contrives to have clasps at the shoulders while exposing the outward portions of her upper arms (the deltoids if you prefer), with buttons to hold together the elbow-length sleeves below. There are in fact separate upper and lower garments, as can best be appreciated from the side and rear of the figure. There are nice repeating folds in the lower middle of her skirt, and a detail, entirely unviewable from the ground without visual aid, is the sequence of three small angels in low relief on the front fold. Her wings are long, rising over half her standing height above her head, and give a fine profile to the figure.

Views of the Angel of Peace, Tottenham War Memorial.

The sculptor was L. F. Roslyn, born ‘Roselieb’, who as well as a variety of WWI memorials, made some interesting architectural figure sculpture in London, most notably a pair of figures on the Sotheby’s building in St George Street, three figures for 70-71 Old Bond Street, and the figures for the Imperial Buildings along Kingsway. The Tottenham angel is of the female type most favoured by Roslyn.

War memorials such as this, with a winged Victory or figure of Peace, are found across the country, and the varieties of figure pose and type are seemingly endless. Another one in North London is that in New Barnet, described on this page.

Sculptural interest nearby:

The Tottenham War Memorial is at a junction, with behind it an open space, and facing upon this are two or three large buildings, the most impressive of which is the former Tottenham Town Hall, now a business centre. This building, in red brick with Portland stone dressings, is in a sort of Edwardian Baroque Queen Anne style. Although there are broken pediments, pilasters and a cupola above the central clock, the sculptural adornment is only minor – attic pots, a cartouche with festoons and hanging floralities in the curved pediment of the central range, and carved heads of cherubs on the principal Ionic pilasters. Taylor and Jemmett were the architects, and the building was erected in 1904-5.

Tottenham Town Hall and details, Edwardian.

Close by on the High Street are a couple of other things to see. There was once a medieval cross, Tottenham High Cross, and although this perished, a cross from around 1800 in brick was put up to replace it, and is still there in the middle of the road. It is Gothic, with blank window panels all the way round, crocketing on the spire, and with rather than a cross, a weather vane on the top. A few paces along, set back from the road, is Holy Trinity Church, built 1828-30, and considered in its time a good example in the early Gothic style. It is the work of the interesting architect James Savage. An old well with a roof, font cover style, survives in front. And we should make passing reference to a late-20th Century stone sculpture called Embracing Forms, by Vanessa Pomeroy, bought in 1983. Rather too abstract for this website.

Tottenham High Cross, James Savage's Holy Trinity Church, Well, and Vanessa Pomeroy's sculpture.

Returning northwards along the High Street, the first main turn-off to the left, by Bruce Grove Railway Station, is Bruce Grove, which leads via a short walk to the Bruce Castle Museum, and thence to All Hallows Church, Tottenham, with significant monuments within it. There is also a fairly extensive cemetery behind it, with some sculptural variety, in the shape of several good angels and portrait statues, of which the most arresting is that to George Edwin Spratt, d.1926, with a statue presumably of his wife Mary Elizabeth (d.1940, also commemorated) in a long, clingy dress, descending the steps in front of his memorial cross.

All Hallows Tottenham, and the Sprat memorial.

This page was originally part of a 'sculpture of the month' series, for Sepember 2014. Although the older pages in that series have been absorbed within the site, if you would wish to follow the original monthly series, then jump to the next month (October 2014) or the previous month (August 2014). To continue, go to the bottom of each page where a paragraph like this one allows you to continue to follow the monthly links.

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North to All Hallows Church, Tottenham // East to Walthamstow Church

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