Chattri Memorial

“To the memory of all the Indian soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their King-Emperor this monument, erected on the site where the Hindus and Sikhs who died in hospital at Brighton passed through the fire, is in grateful admiration and brotherly affection dedicated” is the touching inscription borne by the Chattri Memorial to the north of Patcham.

The Chattri sits elegantly 500ft above sea-level on Holt Hill, about one mile to the north of the A27 and may only be accessed by bridleway. Amazingly, the Royal Pavilion was used as a hospital by 4,306 wounded Indian soldiers during the First World War. The Memorial marks the site of the ‘ghat’ where many Indian soldiers who didn’t make it through were cremated. It was paid for by the Indian Government and was unveiled in 1921 by the Prince of Wales.

White Sicilian marble was the material chosen for the Chattri’s pillars and octagonal dome. The marble sits on three granite slabs which cover the concrete crematory slabs. It was designed in the Moghul style by an Indian student staying in London, E. C. Henriques, under the supervision of Sir Samuel Jacob. The Chattri is surrounded by two acres of pretty gardens which is then surrounded by endless countryside except to the south where Brighton sits calmly sparkling. A remembrance service is held there every summer.

The Chattri Memorial is not the only monument in Brighton & Hove with an Indian connection. The Pavilion’s South Gate was also a gift from India in 1921 following the First World War. It was designed by Thomas Tyrwhitt in the Gujerati style. However, the recently restored teak Moghul kiosk at the Hove Museum on New Church Road found its way to Hove under more peaceful conditions. It was made for the Maharajah of Jaipur as an exhibit in the Indian & Colonial Exhibition in South Kensington of 1886. It was dismantled and, in 1926, rebuilt in Hove.

Despite the Downs being so close to Brighton, it was shocking to discover just how little I know about the countryside. A few friends and I headed to the Chattri for a summer Sunday picnic and were quickly greeted by a field full of angry-looking cows. After much debate, we decided on the quickest route – a careful walk straight through the middle which turned into a run as soon as the nearest cow twitched!