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Thursday 17 December 2009

Charney Hall School, Grange over Sands, Update

When setting up this Blog I did hope that people out there would respond with information about the memorials that I described and would perhaps fill in some of the gaps in the historical record. In this it has been marginally successful; in about four instances there has been real interest and the story of the memorials has been substantially enhanced. None more so than the posting about the Memorial Hall at Charney Hall School, Grange over Sands. Here a couple of 'old boys' have got the bit between their teeth and painted a vivid picture of life at the school in the third quarter of the twentieth century and of the part played by the Memorial Hall in the life of the scholars.

Comparing the images on the original posting with this aerial photo a clearer picture emerges of the school's environs.

This pic was sent by one of the 'old boys', John Cranna, who has been most informative. Over the last couple of days he has sent me a few excellent photos and documents. The one below shows the original location of the School's World War 2 memorial in the entrance porch of the new building beyond the cricketers.

This is now mounted in the nave of the Parish church in Grange. From an account written in c1955 it would appear that this was unveiled in the early 1950s.

Sadly my original question, whether or not there was some form of memorial listing the great war dead by name, remains tantalisingly unanswered.

If there is such a listing then they would be contemporaries of Hubert Podmore, the headmaster's son, who was killed in the conflict.

What a nice, gentle looking guy. A Gentleman. His battlefield cross is in the Parish church at Grange.

Thursday 26 November 2009

Sudan 1884 - 5 - on holiday!

My mate Rod has just returned to a damp North Lancashire after spending a week cruising along the Nile looking at the antiquities and eating humous. True to form he kept an eye cocked for war memorials and, by golly, he found one!

One of the trips was to the Temple at Philae in southern Egypt, one of the monuments that was moved, stone by stone, during the construction of the Aswan dam. The pic here dates dates from the later 19th century.

Throughout history it has been a military post on the boundaries of Egypt and Sudan, for Egyptians, Macedonians, Romans and British. It is a beautiful place I imagine - somewhere I would much like to go.

During the Gordon relief expedition of 1884-5 Philae was a base area for British forces advancing southwards into the Sudan to confront the Mahdist forces who had invested the residency under the command of Chinese Gordon. One of the principal brigades employed was a column of Camel troops, volunteers, drawn from a number of regular mounted and infantry Regiments of the British Army. During the course of its advance into the Sudan it was engaged in a series of engagements with native forces during which a number of men were killed.

In remembrance of these losses their comrades carved a memorial on a wall of the Philae Temple listing those who died from 'The Heavy Camel Regiment'.

Typically of memorials commemorating the dead of Britain's myriad Imperial conflicts only the Officers are named. All are listed in two columns; killed in action on the left, died of disease on the right. They are further listed under their original Regiments, Scots Greys, Lancers & Dragoon Guards

Don't know if there are any Cumbrians here, but likely!

The campaign that these men were engaged in culminated in the Battle of Omdurman. See here for my posting on a Cumbrian fatality at this action.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Lost memorial found

Got round to visiting Sir John Barrow junior school in Ulverston where a memorial, walled up thirty years ago, re-emerged during recent building works.
It was both disappointing and fascinating!

The memorial, if such it is, was painted directly onto the wall and clearly shows the Arms of King George V and the date 1917. Unfortunately there is more disappearing into the ceiling that has not emerged during recent renovations. If there is a list of names or a clear indication that it is a memorial then it must be hidden there.

A small panel at the bottom tells the viewer that it was presented by J Martin Esq on March 9th 1917.

As can be seen on the lower pic it is quite badly damaged by people using it as a notice board of some sort. It is badly pitted with holes from, presumably, drawing pins and such.

Monday 9 November 2009

Remembrance 2009 - Cecil & Gerald Spring-Rice

The origin of the lyrics of this hymn is a poem written in 1908 by Cecil Spring-Rice, a diplomat in the British Embassy in Stockholm.

Called Urbs Dei or The Two Fatherlands, the poem described the Muscular Christianity and deep patriotism that is so much a part of the ethos and ritual of post 1919 Remembrance. The second verse is rarely sung.

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

I heard my country calling, away across the sea,
Across the waste of waters she calls and calls to me.
Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,
And round her feet are lying the dying and the dead.
I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns,
I haste to thee my mother, a son among thy sons.
And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace

In 1912, Spring-Rice was posted as Ambassador to the USA. After the Americans entered the war in 1917, he was recalled to Britain but shortly before his departure in January 1918 he re-wrote and renamed his poem, significantly altering the first verse to concentrate on the huge losses suffered by British soldiers during the intervening years. Also, presumably, the second verse.

In 1921 the English composer Gustav Holst adapted the music from a section of Jupiter from his Planets Suite to create a setting for the poem.

The music was extended slightly to fit the final two lines of the first verse; the resulting melody or hymn tune is usually referred to as Thaxted, named after the the quintessential English village in Essex where Holst lived for many years.

The hymn was first performed in 1925 and very soon became an English anthem.

Cecil Spring Rice had a younger brother, Gerald, who was killed serving with the 11th Lonsdale Bn, Border Regiment, on May 26th 1916. He is buried at Authuille on The Somme but commemorated by a couple of memorials in The Lakes; at Watermillock on the western shore of Ullswater and on the lower bridge at Aira Force. The upper bridge is a memorial to Cecil.

Gerald's Watermillock memorial is a beautifully executed copper plaque, on oak, on the north wall of the nave; probably Keswick School. At the time of his death he was living with his wife at Mell Fell House, a delightful residence just yards away from the church.

Friday 6 November 2009

Newly discovered memorial in Silverdale

(If Bill Brabban of Durham reads this again can he check out the comments at the bottom please!?)

My mate Rod who has a vast collection of stuff on the history of Silverdale sent me an email this week about a local pamphlet he holds,

"Silverdale - The Loveliest Spot on Morecambe Bay" published by the Silverdale Advancement Association. The copy has no date but a subsequent edition was published in 1936.

Both describe the purchase in 1921 of Bleasdale House by The Bradford Dyers Association as a convalescent home and as a memorial to 707 members of the association who had died in the war and also as a memorial to 37 killed when Low Moor Munitions Co Ltd suffered a disastrous explosion in 1916.

The house was built for the Sharp family but during the war had been used as an auxiliary hospital.

The pic below shows Cpl William Brabban with a couple of nurses. Cpl William Brabban, 18th Northumberland Fusiliers, was injured on 1st July 1916 on the opening day of Battle of Somme. Shrapnel in lower spine and shell shock.

Happily he survived and went on to marry Nurse Hilda Florence Dunn, of Haslingden nr Sandbach, at St Johns church in Silvedale in July 1917.

Monday 2 November 2009

Great Musgrave

Hidden away on the banks of the Eden at Great Musgrave is the magical church of St Theobald. There have been a number of churches around this site since at least the late twelfth century, and probably long before. Prior to 1248 the living was under the patronage of St Mary's, York.

There are a number of interesting memorials.

At the east end of the nave is a rough hewn table with two small dedicatory brasses on the edge commemorating members of the Fawcitt family.

The earlier of the two is;

In Memory of
Sub Lieut Bernard Fawcitt RNVR
Licata Sicily 10th July 1943

Temporary Sub Lt Fawcitt was killed, aged 20, in the invasion of Sicily - operation Husky - while serving aboard the Landing Ship Infantry HMS Princess Josephine Charlotte, a converted Belgian cross channel ferry.

Prior to Husky the ship had served as a commando carrier at St Nazaire. Young Fawcitt had been Mentioned in Dispatches sometime prior to his death, perhaps at St Nazaire. But why is he commemorated in this obscure corner of Cumbria? On the CWGC website his parents are named as Norman and Ethel Fawcitt, of Rothley, Leicestershire.

The Licata landings in which Fawcitt was killed was a predominantly American operation at the far western end of the landing beaches.

As well as the Fawcitt table there are two Great War memorials placed on the south wall of the nave. They still have their, probably, original brass candlesticks and vases on a shelf below, altogether a simple village war shrine.

The large Roll of Honour is painted on board and lists all of the parish who served 1914 - 19.

Sadly the paint used a lot of black pigment of a type that is now cracking and discolouring the gilding in which the names are painted. There is a nurse (her unit is I M N S R?) and guys from the district who served with the Canadian and Australian Expeditionary Forces.

Five men are listed on the Roll as having died but only four appear on an accompanying brass plaque produced by F Osborne & Co of London, church furnishers.

This plaque is identical in form to WW1 & WW2 memorials in the Methodist church at Ousby and, possibly, to one in the parish church there. Ousby church is now redundant, up for sale and permanently locked.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Death in Cyprus, 1956

'Nother Last of The Summer Wine days today - up the Eden valley, one of the most beautiful places in England. On the way we drove past Grayrigg, a small village between Kendal & Tebay that was in the news a couple of years ago following a dreadful train crash on the west coast mainline which passes through the nearby Lune gorge.

In the centre of the village is the church of St John the Evangelist, a former chapelry of Kendal.

In front of the church, beside the road, is a small memorial made of Orton limestone.

It bears the names of the dead from all the smaller communities that make up the parish through the conflicts of the 20th century. It bears an odd sort of inscription of c1919;

Some men have no memorial
But these are they whose
Hath not been forgotten

It is unusual in that it has the name of Royal Marine Benet Carr Blakeway who died on February 9th 1956 during the Cyprus emergency.

He was 25 years old.

This contemporary newsreel gives a flavour of why the young guy died.

Apart from having his name added to the village war memorial Marine Blakeway's memory was further maintained by his parents donation of a beautifully bound service book to the church.

The flyleaf bears an illuminated dedication.

These are the sort of small memorials that are often lost. This service book lies largely forgotten and apparently unused at the back of the church. It could certainly do with a bit of TLC/

Friday 23 October 2009


Found myself having a grey day this week but the sun was out so I took off and had a trip out to Keswick. To get there I had to drive past Grasmere, a delightful village lying beneath the Lion & the Lamb at the foot of Dunmail Raise. While there I made a detour to take some pics of Broadgate Meadow.

Hidden on the low outcrop in the trees is a decorated cross of local green slate, the village war memorial of 1919.

It was designed by William Gershon Collingwood, antiquarian, artist & secretary to John Ruskin. At some point I'll get round to putting a post up about him. On the reverse is the name of the memorial mason, W Bromley of Keswick. Did he carve it or merely erect it? Probably made it, although a number of Collingwood's memorials were carved by his daughter, Barbara.

The cross is one of the more fascinating in the county. The secretary of the memorial committee was fellow antiquarian Rev Hardwicke Rawnsley who had retired to Allan Bank, Grasmere in 1917 after serving as Vicar of Crosthwaite, Keswick for 34 years. Rawnsley was a close friend of Collingwood and it was probably as a consequence of this that WG was invited to create the memorial. In response he created a remarkable object, it feels like a pastiche of a 7th century Anglian cross. Indeed it is probably inspired by the local belief that St Oswald preached here in the 7th century.

Below the wheel head is a dove and below that a stag trampling a dragon.

The dedication is;
In Honour of the Men
of Grasmere who
Fought and in Ever
Thankful Memory
of the Men who Died
For God For King For Home
For Freedom Peace & Right
In The Great War
1914 - 1918
1939 - 1945
(1939-1945 added post '45)

Below this again is a poem,

These died in war that we in peace might live
They gave their best so we our best should give
Not for themselves, for freedom home & right
They died and bid us forward to the fight

See you to it that they shall not have died in vain.
Academics talk about 'The Language of Courage' or the 'Elevated Rhetoric' that is so closely associated with the Great War. Few memorials illustrate this better than Grasmere. Both inscriptions were probably dreamed up by Rawnsley - (I presume? Maybe not!). He was a vigorous Victorian patriot and wrote a considerable amount of rather histrionic poetry. Oddly, the poem, such an angry response to the war, reappears at Dent so maybe it is not Rawnsley.

There are no names on the memorial, the village dead are listed on a plaque in the nearby c12th century church of St Oswald where William Wordsworth and his family are buried.

Across Broadgate meadow there is a large oak tree.

Beside it is a small slate boulder explaining that the oak was planted by Canon Rawnsley on Peace Day, July 19 1919 when all the villagers of Grasmere and district gathered in Broadgate meadow to celebrate the signing of the Peace Treaty that finally wrote a line under the holocaust that was 1914-18.

On the opposite side of the meadow, just inside the gates, is a smaller tree.

A small stone at its foot bears a brass plaque explaining that this tree was planted on August 19, 1995 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of end of World War 2. So much war.

There are other memorials in the village - for another time!

Friday 16 October 2009

Alston - part 1

Went out for a Last of the Summer Wine day with friends, ending up in Alston, the highest market town in England.

The parish church of St Augustine of Canterbury which dominates the town was built in 1869, the third church on the site.

Wonderful aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

It was finaced by public subscription but with substantial contributions from Greenwich Hospital estates. These estates were originally held by the Radcliffe Earls of Derwentwater, a bastard line of Charles II by one of his mistresses. They were forfeit to the crown after James, the third Earl, was captured at Preston in 1715 and beheaded on Tower Hill. In 1765 all their lands were granted to Greenwich Hospital who in turn rented them out to tenant farmers and leased the mineral rights to substantial deposits of lead ore to The London Lead Company who became a major employer and benefactor.

After 1919 there was considerable discussion as to the appropriate form a memorial should take. In May 1920 it was agreed that Carlisle architect JH Martindale, who in 1889 had designed the reredos behind the altar, be approached to provide a design for a chancel screen. It would be made by Thomas Lawson of Carlisle at a cost of £415.

The initial proposal was that the dead of all faiths be listed by rank and date of death. This was later amended to a simple listing by christian & surname. After the names had been advertised in the local papers and checked with the various nonconformist chapels in the district they were carved on two panels on either side of the screen.

In the porch of the church there is another memorial high up on the wall. There is no indication of where it might have originated.

Monday 5 October 2009

In his book The Missing of The Somme, Geoff Dyer suggests a reason for the naming of names that is the focus of the War Memorial after 1918/19

In the naming processes, of putting one’s own loss against other’s in the community the pain of mothers, wives and fathers was subsumed in a list of names whose sheer scale was numbing...
Realising that grief could be rendered more manageable if simultaneously divided and shared by a million the scale of sacrifice was emphasised. Publicising the scale of the loss was the best way to make it bearable.

But there is another commonality to memorials that was central to their message; their place in the landscape.

After 1918 there were long discussions about the forms that memorials should take. At Milnethorpe.....
... the suggestion of tablets in the Church and the Methodist Chapel was ‘too insignificant’, a children’s playground and a mortuary chapel too expensive. Only the vicar wanted a lychgate. A village club was dismissed as there were already two underused venues. Private Knight, a demobilised soldier, suggested the memorial fund should be shared out amongst veterans. This was diplomatically rejected on the grounds that it would ‘ignore the fallen’. Like the vast majority of communities the final decision was a cross, of Portland stone, to be erected on the village green.

When a cross, obelisk or other similar funereal form was adopted they were often placed by the roadside so that the names of those lost would remain with the village people and more importantly be made public, engaged with by the itinerant traveller and ultimately, the nation. The fellside village in the hills of Cumbria very publicly claimed its place in the Empire's grief.

There are many examples in the county of roadside memorials.

Cowhills on the Northumberland/Durham border on the High Fells above Alston.

Cautley War Memorial.

The presentation of the dead was central to the memorial's purpose. By adopting the unspoken precedent of placing the names on the King's Highway for all to see the dead of all classes & castes became equals in the Army of the Dead. And as important the status of the pauper and his widow was seen to be equal to that of Prince's widows. The world was slower in 1920 and the vast majority of passers by would take time to gaze and reflect.

Here at Barbon the names on the memorial include those of plain dalesmen and two sons of Lord Shuttleworth

Friday 4 September 2009

Cumbria & HMS Glorious

On the east side of Ullswater is the church of St Peter of 1882 designed by John A Cory of Carlisle, sometime County Architect of Cumberland.

His greatest claim to fame is his work on Garlands Hospital, Carlisle, a place of some local repute.

Some way to the south of this rather bland building is the older church of St Martin of 1634.

Although of no great architectural merit St Peter's is a most poignant church from the point of view of memorials. In recent years it has become the focus for remembrance of HMS Glorious, an aircraft carrier sunk on June 8, 1940 during the ill fated Norwegian campaign.

The reason is a window on the south side of the church commemorating the death of Lt Commander William Hugh Parkin, aged 33, and the men of the Glorious. It is one of a series in the church designed and made by Jane Grey and inserted in 1975.

The window shows the ship viewed from above, ploughing thro' the waves. The phoenix rises from the flames, a symbol of the resurrection, and below is the ship's crest and an anchor, symbol of the Royal Navy. Below that is the bible and the symbol of the Trinity.

William Hugh Parkin (1869-1911), probably the father of Lt Commander Parkin & sometime Lt Colonel of the Westmorland & Cumberland Yeomanry, is also commemorated by a plaque in the church. Indeed another WH Parkin of Ravencragg, together with Anthony Parkin of Sharrow Bay, established St Peter's in 1882.

Since the insertion of the window a couple of people have left smaller memorials to men who were lost, a photo of the ship pre-war and this card with a sprig of lavender attached that names Royal Marine Wilfred Munslow, twin brother of Geoffrey. His photo is on the reverse.

A short clip of contemporary German newsreel film shows the course of the one sided battle that led to the loss of the Glorious and her escorting destroyers, Acasta and Ardent. Out of a crew of 1564 only 45 survived three days in lifeboats. There were two survivors from each of the destroyers.
For a memorial to a man from Acasta, go here.

The window at Martindale is not the only memorial in Cumbria to honour loss on HMS Glorious. At Gosforth a wooden plaque commemorates 39 year old Lt Commander Austin Noel Rees Keene, R.N. Although retired from the Navy he rejoined on the outbreak of hostilities. He was married to Euphemia Mary Keene and lived at Torphins, Aberdeenshire. However, his parents were the Reverend Rees and Louisa Mary Keene - were they perhaps natives of Gosforth?

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Another publication

Another publication listing names on war memorials has been kindly sent to me by the Matterdale Historical and Archaeological Society.

A labour of love, it describes the men whose names appear on the memorials at Matterdale, Greystoke, Patterdale, Penruddock and Watermillock from both world wars.

One of the great things about these locally produced publications is the anecdotal stories that often appear. The men are often remembered in their communities and stories remain in the memory of friends and family describing their lives and their fates. Such is the case here.

I found myself by the banks of Ullswater yesterday. What a beautiful place. I looked around the Salvin church at Patterdale and found two further memorials commemorating conflicts.

At the west end of the nave there is a White Ensign hanging from the wall.

An accompanying plaque explains that it flew on a despatch boat of HMS Lion, flagship of Sir David Beatty, at the Battle of Jutland. It was presented to the church by Commander Berry RN. Best look at my earlier posting about Beatty's flag at Flookburgh!

Set against the end wall of the nave, below the flag, is a rough wooden table.

It is an altar that was originally in the crypt of St Martin in the Fields, London. It was given to the Lakeland sculptress, Josephina de Vasconcelles who installed it in the chapel of a house in the Duddon Valley that was a refuge for disadvantaged youths. In 1970 it was dedicated by the Bishop of Carlisle as a memorial to all those killed in air crashes in the Lakeland fells from the outbreak of the second world war until today; over 500 people. At the millenium Josephina gave the altar to Patterdale church as a focus of pilgrimage for friends and relatives of the dead.