The Cook Memorial

The Cook Memorial in 2008
After tidying in 2011

The Cook Memorial, an imposing Portland stone monument was awarded Grade II listing in 2011 from the Department for Culture Media and Sport. Constructed following the death of James Cook in 1911, the structure was potentially in real danger had the Friends not intervened. The invasion of shrubs and ivy was starting to take its toll but more particularly a small tree growing within was threatening the structure. The foliage was cut back and a copper pin inserted into the stem of the sapling, when this had withered it was carefully removed without damaging the memorial.

The Listing particulars are as follows:

The Cook Memorial in Wembdon Road Cemetery is recommended for designation at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * It is an unusually ambitious Edwardian funerary monument, highly architectural in character, which draws inspiration from C18 neoclassicism * Its sculptural interest: the execution of the monument, in particular the angel, is of high quality


736-1/0/10006 24-JUN-10

BRIDGWATER WEMBDON ROAD(North,off)Cook Memorial,Wembdon Road Cemetery

GII Commemorative monument to James Cook, who died 1911.Built to the designs of Samson and Colthurst. MATERIALS: Portland stone with a concrete core; bronze inscription panel and cross produced by the Bromsgrove Guild of Craftsman. DESCRIPTION: The upper section is bow-fronted, with composite order columns to each corner carrying an entablature. The inscription panel is framed in stone and reads: IN MEMORY OF/JAMES COOK/JUSTICE OF THE PEACE/AND FOR NINE YEARS TOWN CLERK/OF BRIDGWATER/BORN 21 NOVEMBER 1835/AT BRIDGWATER/DIED 24 NOVEMBER 1911/AT WESTON SUPER MARE. The lower stage is flanked by side extensions, each supporting a gadrooned vase; in the front of each is a projecting side wall, with stone bowls over pedestals. Between is a standing stone angel, her hands crossed over her breast. At her feet is a stone dedication plaque which reads: MEMORYS/TRIBUTE/TO MY/DEAR HUSBAND. Above the inscription is what appears to be a crown that is flanked by angels in profile. Further inscriptions are dedicated to the memory of James' wife Ellen who died in 1923;his mother Elizabeth, who died 1847;and, at the base of the monument, is a small stone plaque to Gwen E Legge who died in 1943 and was probably a family member. HISTORY: Wembdon Road Cemetery was opened in 1851.It comprised three areas: a large part for the Anglican population; a second area, which was extended later in the century, for the Non-Conformists; and a third, smaller section set aside as the pauper's graveyard. Separate mortuary chapels were also erected for the Anglicans and Non-Conformists respectively. The Cook Memorial was erected in 1912 to commemorate James Cook (1835-1911).From his epitaph,we know that he was a Justice of the Peace and the town clerk of Bridgwater for nine years. His neoclassical monument was designed by prominent Bridgwater architects Samson and Colthurst who were responsible for quite a considerable number of buildings in the town and the local area.SOURCES:Plan of monument to James Cook, Esq.JP, Bridgwater (June 1912),Somerset Record Office, Ref. A\CMY/151 REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:The Cook Memorial is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:* It is an unusually ambitious Edwardian funerary monument, highly architectural in character, which draws inspiration from C18 neoclassicism* Its sculptural interest:the execution of the monument, in particular the angel, is of high quality.


The Memorial Designs © H.A.D. Gibson (SRO A/CMY/151)
A Picture of the Memorial When first Built.
Specifications made by the Architects Samson & Colthurst. July 1912. © H.A.D.Gibson(SRO A/CMY/151)

The Cook Monument- Description in the Bridgwater Mercury 1912

In accordance with the terms of the will of the late Mr. James Cook a monument has been erected to his memory over his grave in the Wembdon Road Cemetery. The monument, which was only completed last week, is a graceful and dignified structure of Portland Stone rising some 13ft above ground, and standing on a stepped rectangular platform eight ft by six ft six inches. Facing the pathway (near the entrance to the cemetery) is a semi-circular concave podium flanked by two pedestals surmounted by vases, behind which rise the taller pedestals surmounted by urns flanking the central portion of the monument. In the centre of this base is a winged figure of grief, which supports the inscription tablet above, this being in bronze, and attached to a convex panel between two carved columns supporting the crowning cornice. A bronze cross and wreath are suspended above the tablet in the centre of the frieze, which is also enriched by a carved patera. The side pedestals have panels for inscriptions, one of them having the inscription from the former headstone in memory of Mr. Cook's mother and two daughters.

The inscription on the bronze panels reads as follows:

In Memory of James Cook, Justice of the Peace, and for nine years Town Clerk of Bridgwater, born 21 November 1835, at Bridgwater. Died 24th November 1911, at Weston Super Mare.

The monument has been erected from the designs of Messrs. Samson and Colthurst, architects, Bridgwater and Taunton, by David Bradfield, of St. John Street. The Portland Stone was supplied by Bath and Portland Stone Firms Ltd., the carvings being executed by Mr. Lewis Smallcorn, of Bath, and the bronze work by the Bromsgrove Guild, Worcestershire, to the architects drawings.