During the First World War injured Indian soldiers were hospitalised in the Royal Pavilion, Dome and Corn Exchange. The Royal Pavilion was the first Indian hospital to open in Brighton. The Hindus and Sikhs who died were cremated on the Downs and, in 1921, the Chattri memorial was constructed on the cremation site.
Immediately to the south of the Chattri is Chattri Down Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI), most of which is open access land. Chattri Down supports a species-rich chalk grassland habitat and is in the South Downs National Park.
The history of the Chattri memorial
The Memorial commemorates 53 men of the Indian Army who died and were cremated at Patcham Down ghat during the First World War. This was in accordance with Hindu and Sikh religious rites.
These soldiers were transferred to hospital in Brighton after fighting on the Western Front from 1914 to 1915. The graves of Muslim soldiers who died in Brighton are in Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey.
The inscription on the memorial, which is written in Hindi, Punjabi and English, reads: 'In honour of these soldiers of the Indian Army whose mortal remains were committed to fire'.
The majority were originally commemorated on the Neuve-Chapelle Memorial in France. This is the memorial for 4,700 soldiers of the Indian Army who died on the Western Front and who have no known grave.
Fourteen of the soldiers were commemorated on the Hollybrook Memorial in Hampshire. This is primarily for the commemoration of soldiers who died at sea. In 2009 The Commonwealth War Graves Commission decided that although these men did not have graves, they were not 'missing' in the conventional sense and it would therefore be more appropriate to commemorate them on a memorial at the cremation site.
The memorial was designed and built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and unveiled on 26 September 2010. The Cremation Memorial stands close to the Chattri Memorial, on land owned by Brighton and Hove City Council.
The Chattri Memorial was built after the First World War to commemorate all the Indian soldiers who gave their lives in the war and is not a Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial.
The Chattri Memorial was unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 1921 with an inscription that reads: 'To the memory of all the Indian soldiers who gave their lives for their King-Emperor in the Great War, this monument, erected on the site of the funeral pyre where the Hindus and Sikhs who died in hospital at Brighton, passed through the fire, is in grateful admiration and brotherly affection dedicated'.
Find more information on the Chattri website.
Discover more about the Memorial and its casualties on the Commenwealth War Graves website.
Learn more about the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
To reach the Cremation Memorial and the adjacent Chattri Memorial involves walking some distance over farmland. On official days of memorial services, vehicles are allowed to park near the memorial.
Catch the 5A bus from the Old Steine, Brighton.
Get off at Patcham Place YHA, London Road, Brighton. BN1 8YD. The memorial is a 2km walk over farmland from this point.
Further information and timetables available from the Brighton & Hove Bus company.
As you enter Brighton on the A23, take the A27 towards Lewes. At the second small roundabout, with a slip road to Lewes, take the north exit into Braypool Lane and immediately turn right.
Park on the brow of the hill and walk to the Memorial and adjacent Chattri by following the sign-posted footpath.
Free parking is available in Old London Road, Patcham.
The park is always open.
Features of the site
The Chattri, which means 'umbrella' in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu, was designed by E.C.Henriques from Mumbai. The dome and its eight pillars are built from white Sicilian marble. The three large granite slabs lie over the original concrete crematory bases and the design symbolises the protection offered to the memory of the dead.
There are several good walking guides available:
The Chattri is designated a ‘Centenary Field’ as part of a national initiative, led by the Royal British Legion and Fields in Trust, marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1. The project aimed to secure permanent public spaces to honour the memory of the millions who lost their lives in this conflict.
Did you know?
The Chattri was unveiled by the Prince of Wales on the 21 February 1921 and bears the following inscription, in Urdu, Hindi and English:
“To the memory of all Indian soldiers who gave their lives for their King-Emperor in the Great War, this monument, erected on the site of the funeral pyre where the Hindus and Sikhs who died in hospital at Brighton passed through the fire, is in grateful admiration and brotherly affection dedicated”.
Find out more