Object Details

Chattri Monument

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General Information
Object Parts
Object Condition


Street:North of Patcham Court Farm
Council:Brighton & Hove City Council
County:East Sussex
Location on Google Map
Object setting:Other
Access is:Public
Location note:A27 Braypool Lane exit, turn right, park on brow of hill, access via bridleway
In the AZ book:East Sussex
Grid reference:N3
The A-Z books used are A-Z East Sussex and A-Z West Sussex (Editions 1A 2005). Geographers' A-Z Map Company Ltd. Sevenoaks.
OS Reference:TQ304103

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Name : E.C. Henriques
Company/Group :William Kirkpatrick Ltd., Manchester

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General Information

Commissioned by: The India Office
Commissioned also by: Sir John Otter, Mayor of Brighton (1916)
Construction period:1920
Installation date:1920
Unveiling date:01/02/1921
Work is:Extant
Owner custodian:Brighton & Hove City Council
Object listing:Grade II: of special interest warranting every effort to preserve them
Listing date:20/08/1971
Description:The memorial is an octagonal, domed monument, the dome supported by eight pillars. The monument is twenty-nine feet high on a stone plinth; three granite blocks cover the concrete cremation slabs.


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Categories:Military, Funerary, Architectural, Commemorative
Object type1:War memorial
     Object subtype1:World War I
Object type2:Building
Subject type1:Non-figurative

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Object Parts

Part 1:Covers to cremation pits
     Material:Granite blocks
Part 2:Dome and columns
     Material:White Sicilian marble
     Height (cm):894

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Object Condition

Overall condition:Good
Risk assessment:No known risk

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History:During the First World War (1914-18) over one and a half million Indian army soldiers saw active service alongside British troops. Twelve thousand Indian soldiers who were wounded on the Western Front were hospitalised at sites around Brighton. These included York Place School, the Dome, the Corn Exchange and the Royal Pavilion. The Chattri stands in memory of all Indian soldiers who died during the First World War, 1914-1918, but it is particularly associated with the 53 Hindu and Sikh soldiers who died in hospitals in Brighton and whose remains were cremated at this spot. The cremations took place at around one per week for the duration of the Indians’ stay, the first on 31st December 1914 and the last on 30th December 1915. The design of the memorial symbolises the protection offered to the memory of the dead. The original idea for a memorial is attributed to Lieutenant Das Gupta of the Indian Medical Service, who approached the then mayor of Brighton, Mr J. (later Sir John) Otter in August 1915 for permission to erect a memorial on the site where cremations took place. The mayor embraced the idea with great enthusiasm and became the driving force behind it. Initially Otter acted in his capacity as mayor, but after relinquishing that post in 1916 he continued as Chairman of the Indian Memorials Committee for Brighton. It is even suggested in official correspondence that he quietly and without thought of recognition or recompense paid for some outer parts, such as railings and so forth, out of his own pocket. In 1916 Otter proposed two memorials. One to be erected on the ghat, the site on the Downs near Patcham where the Sikh and Hindu soldiers were cremated (Mohammedan dead were buried at Woking), which he envisaged would bear “a tablet with names and to contain one of the stone slabs on which cremation took place.” The other, in the town, would be of a more general nature to commemorate the link with the Indians (the southern gateway to the Pavilion). Funding was discussed. It was agreed that the India Office and Brighton Corporation would bear half each of the cost of erection, but that Brighton alone would be responsible for ongoing care and maintenance (the second memorial, the southern gateway to the Pavilion, was paid for by subscription raised in India by Sirdar Daljit Singh).
In January 1917 the General Purposes Committee of Brighton Council voted £750 to the scheme and this was matched by the India Office.
The wording of the inscription seems to have been devised by Sir John, as the Secretary of State for India, now the Rt. Hon. E.S. Montague wrote to him: “your draft is in every way admirable,” suggesting just one change, the substitution of the words “were cremated” for the words “passed through the fire.” Happily this suggestion was ignored and the emotive original wording retained. By the end of 1920 the memorial had been built, it only remained to install protective fencing and the layout of the surrounding garden, which incorporated four miniature avenues of red and white thorn trees pointing north, south, west and east, the whole area turfed with “true down turf which is the finest in the world.” The end cost of the entire scheme was £4964, the costs of materials and labour having risen rapidly during the realisation of the project (and £1117 spent on a caretaker’s cottage).

Unveiling Ceremony, 1st February 1921
Sir John Otter approached the Prince of Wales who, having referred back to the India Office for advice, duly accepted and the date was set for 1st February 1921 (the Prince rejected a suggestion that it be delayed until summer when fine weather was more likely).

The Caretaker’s Cottage
The caretaker’s cottage was completed in 1923 and the first caretaker appointed. He was a former regimental sergeant-major and lived there with his wife. The caretaker died after a few years and his wife – presumably elderly - struggled on for a few months but eventually gave up the cottage. It is not clear whether a successor was ever appointed, but an aspirant to the post, enquiring in 1934 whether there was a vacancy was told that it was not proposed to appoint another caretaker as “the cottage has been dismantled.” Reportedly it had been impossible to keep the post full owing to the remoteness of the location.

The British Legion Pilgrimage
On 18th September 1932 the first public service of commemoration since the 1921 opening ceremony took place. There was a large gathering of veterans and officials, chief among them being the High Commissioner for India, Sir Bupendra Math Mitra. The event made the front page of the Sussex Daily News the following day.

Complaints from walkers and visitors were made about the condition of the memorial and in 1939 the India Office suggested seeking the advice of the Imperial War Graves Commission who undertook a thorough survey and in December drew up a plan for maintenance that involved a reduction in the area of land covered (originally two acres) and other measures. At the same time, possibly picqued into activity by the IO initiative, the Brighton Parks and Gardens Department came up with their own plans for repair and renovation. The best course of action was debated and the IWGC plan was favoured, but as ever Brighton Corporation appeared unwilling to meet its original commitment of 1920 and argued over reponsibility for payment. They eventually agreed to undertake the work, but not until 1942.

The British Legion Pilgrimage was resurrected in 1951, taking place in the last week of June annually until 1999 when amid some fairly wild accusations of racism they decided that they could no longer maintain the ceremony, citing old age, declining numbers and the difficulty of providing a post-ceremony tea. An Order of Service for the 1970 Chattri Pilgrimage survives: there was an Address by the Chaplain of the Patcham Branch of the British Legion (who was also the vicar of Patcham) followed by prayers, the wreath laying ceremony, the Last Post (sounded by the Patcham Church Band), the Legion Exhortation and the Reveille. Then an Address by the branch president, Reply by His Excellency the High Commissioner for India and the Blessing. After the ceremony there was a parade around the memorial. Refreshments were served by the Ladies of the Patcham Women’s Section, followed by a welcome to all the Indian Party from London in the Patcham Memorial Hall, Old London Road.

Hearing of the demise of the Chattri Pilgrimage, Davinder Dhillon, a local Sikh teacher, approached the British Legion with a view to resurrecting the event and under his stewardship it has continued to be held annually on the third Sunday in June since 2000. With representatives of the Undivided Indian Ex-Service Association from various parts of the United Kingdom present, as well as the Brighton and Hove Hindu Elders Group, members of the armed forces and police, the mayor and local people, a unique and fittingly dignified memorial service is maintained.

Edward, Prince of Wales unveiled the monument. The procession of cars made its way to about half a mile from the monument and then the party proceeded on foot, the remainder of the route being lined with Boy Scouts. ‘The Chattri was hidden, except for the domes by a huge Union Jack on which background stood out the Star of India. At the four corners stood sentries with bowed heads and hands resting on the butts of reversed rifles. On the further side was posted the guard of honour of the Royal Fusiliers and at the back the firing party and trumpeters of the 24th Brigade R.F.A. as the procession was nearing the Chattri a salute of 21 guns was fired by the 34th Brigade R.F.A., stationed at Preston Barracks.’ Sir John Otter opened the proceedings, saying ‘We stand here…on the site of the burning ghat, removed from the reeks of the populous town before us. Below these three slabs of granite lie the blocks where the sacred flame released the faithful soldiers who died in Brighton from the last entanglements of the flesh, and transmuted their mortal bodies into incorruptible elements of earth. The ritual of the burning ghat was strictly observed so far as means would allow. Elaborate was the symbolic use of metals, grain, fruits, flowers, scents and other things, and we heard at intervals the low chanting of Vedic hymns’. Otter concluded by saying that the monument , ‘…was not a work of magnificence. The sign was less that the things signified’. The Prince then climbed the steps and unveiled the monument. After his speech, three volleys were fired by the firing party with a roll of drums between each, the guard of honour simultaneously presenting arms. The trumpeters sounded the Last Post followed by the Reveille and the ceremony came to a close. The National Anthem was played as the party left the Chattri. The ceremony was followed by an Address of Welcome at The Dome and a reception for 127 at the Royal Pavilion. After lunch, the Prince and the party went to officially open Lord Roberts’ Memorial Workshops for disabled ex-servicemen in St. James’ Street. He then attended the Ex-servicemens Club at The Aquarium and the National Diamond Factory before departing.
(Brighton Gazette 2 February 1921)

‘Around that marble Chattri on the open Brighton Downs, in the presence of men of India as well as men from India, in the presence of Rudyard Kipling, our story-teller of India and the poet of Empire, met the very elements that most accurately symbolized that Empire. Thus it was that on his visit to Brighton on Tuesday, the Prince of Wales laid another stage in the building of Empire’.
(Brighton Herald 5 February 1921)
Hard archive file:Yes

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