“ Address: Centenary Square / Birmingham / England „
Hall of Memory
Centenary Square Birmingham B1 2EP
The Hall of Memory sits in Centenary Square Birmingham right in front of the new Birmingham Library. The Hall was built in the 1920's to remember the 12,000 Birmingham men and women who lost their lives World War I, but other wars are now also remembered.
The Hall is a very peaceful building. Placed as it is in the centre of Birmingham.. Being peaceful the sense of awe at the loss of some many lives in war came across to me.
In it's self The Hall Of Memory is a faily small domed structure which looks grea and it's well with the mix of modern and older buildings in Centenary Square. The building material is Portland Stone which gives the Hall a clean white look.
Around the building are , are four statues made from bronze. These statues represent the Army, Navy, Royal Air Force and Women's Services. They are superb, as such good to stand in front of and remember the loss of those who they represent.
The inside of the Hall has that "special" feeling when walking into a Cathedral or something similar. The massive door leads into a cool space..which sort of relaxed me as I entered. Also inside there are more arts work, sculptures and so on.
The Hall is a goodplace to stop, pause and remember.
The Hall of Memory is free to visit and a must really.
I went to the Hall Of Memory last week cos I am studying war memorials round the country. Its a boring attraction I think but came in useful cos I was able to compare this to the other ones i have visited as part of my studies.
It's very small and this was annoying cos it was packed when I visited and I had to queue up to get close to the decorations on the wall.
The hall is made of a pretty white stone and it looks out of place cos its surrounding by bigger buildings and more modern ones. Its in a nice bit of the city centre though and they have put a water feature outside and some grass.
Inside there are monuments to the people of the midlands who lost their lives in the wars we have had but i don't think enough empasis is put on the fact that so many people died.
There are some painted memorials on the walls and those were beautiful but needed some information about them what wasn't there as they dont stand out as being much to do with the loss of life.
Its free to get in the Hall Of Memory but it is only open at certain times but you can check on the Birmingham council website for details. It only takes a few minutes to look round so is nice if you are hanging around waiting for something but unless you are interested in war memorials (or studying them with no interest like me, god bless the national curriculum) then its probly not worth you going.
Hall of Memory
My late brother in laws father was killed in World War I, so during a recent stay in Birmingham my sister decided we should visit the Hall Of Memory to pay our respects. The Hall was built in the 1920's as a memorial to the 12,000 Birmingham men and women who died during World War I.
The Hall Of Memory is a small domed structure which looks beautiful from a distance away and stands out against the rest of the buildings in modern Birmingham. The Hall is built from Portland Stone, which was brought in especially to build this memorial and it is the Portland stone which gives the Hall it's snowy white appearance.
Outside the building, almost coming out of the smooth curved wall itself, are four statues made from bronze. These statues represent the Army, Navy, Royal Air Force and Women's Services during the war. I think these statues are absolutely beautiful and I spent a while looking at them trying to imagine the horrors these men and women experienced before their deaths, I liked the way that at first glance these sculptures are just beautiful works of art but as you get closer to them you realise they are so much more than this. A local sculptor, Albert Toft, created these stunning works and as well as being haunting and thought provoking, he rendered them accurately and gave the figures a lot of detail to make them appear as lifelike as possible.
The door into the Hall is a wide and ornate and walking through it I noticed two things. One, how big the inside of the building is compared to the compact outside of the Hall and two, there is a deep chill inside the building. I am aware that this coolness is because of the un-insulated stone that makes up the walls, but it is a reverent chill of the same kind you get when walking into a cathedral. Soft lighting inside gives a calming and muted effect, taking away some of the bleakness that comes from having a stone wall and floor.
Inside the Hall are three beautiful panels which were designed and created by William Bloye, a renowned Birmingham sculptor who apparently took his commission at the Hall Of Memory extremely seriously and saw it as an honour to be asked to create something so important for the national and regional morale. The panels are actually bas-relief sculptures and feature the three major events in a soldiers life; The Call, Front Line and Return. These panels are quite wonderful and the craftsmanship that went into them so many years ago is truly stunning. I felt they are the perfect decoration for the Hall because they are wonderfully depicted and have a simple power which actually made the breath catch in my throat as I remembered how many men and boys did not get to feature in the third panel, the 'Return' because they simply never did.
On the particular day that we visited the Hall Of Memory it was beautifully sunny and upon entering the Hall I immediately noticed that some of the windows are stained glass which are a mixture of scenes from the war and also a selection of religious symbols. The sunlight through these pretty and powerfully rendered windows made the interior of the Hall seem much brighter, although this did not really detract very much from the sombre and sad atmosphere inside.
There were one or two poppy wreathes laid out inside the Hall, because obviously these flowers symbolise the war dead and the whole point of the Hall is to remember these men, women and boys all the time and not just on November 11th when the nation tends to come together for collective remembrance, My sister and I were so taken with the Hall Of Memory that we are considering coming back up for Poppy Day and observing the veterans laying down their wreathes to remember their lost friends and colleagues. We have similar ceremonies in the South East, but no memorial building as pretty and decorative as this Hall.
I was very impressed to see that although the Hall Of Memory has remained true to World War I, separate sections have now been added to commemorate the lives of Birmingham people who have been lost in more recent wars. I noticed a large memorial to World War II as well as respects being paid to those killed in Korea, The Falklands and Vietnam. I thought it odd that there was nothing to draw note to the current conflicts of Afghanistan and Iraq, although with a rising death toll in that part of the world I should think some kind of memorial will need to be added soon.
The Hall Of Memory is open Monday - Friday between the hours of 10am and 4pm. It is located in Birminghams Centenary Square which I thought was a real mish mash of old and brand new styles, the Hall blends in perfectly in this attractive area. Once we had taken an hour to look around the Hall we sat outside next to the small fountain and reflected upon what we had just seen.
Entrance is free, as it should be for a memorial such as this. It is actually a totally free place to visit as there is no gift shop, tea room or anything like that which is good in my opinion because this is a place where visitors are invited to come and remember the people who lost their lives to keep our country safe so a gift shop, however nicely done, would have seemed an insult. You can remember your visit by taking photographs, which is permitted both inside and out and if you are prepared to wait for the sun to catch the stained glass windows in the correct spot then you can get yourself some quite wonderful shots which will really stand out among your usual City Break photographs.
There is one problem with the Hall Of Memory and that is because it was built in a time where disabled people were not given much consideration, access could be a problem depending on the severity of your disability. If you are in a wheelchair you will need to navigate three or four steps into the Hall, these steps are stone and are fairly steep and with my asthma I was puffing a little by the time I made it into the Hall so I cannot see how anyone with big mobility problems could manage it.
If you are planning a trip to Birmingham, I would suggest the Hall Of Memory to be well worth a visit. It is a small attraction so could take you as little as half an hour to look around, but it is worth seeing to remember the lives lost in wars around the world. If you require further information you can telephone the curator of the Hall Of Memory on 0121 303 2822.
A monument errected in 1920 to commemorate the 12,320 Birmingham citizens who died in the Great War, otherwise known as the First World War.