“I cannot but dread the wave of war-memorials in churches which we must expect after the war”

The Bishop of Oxford was concerned that the rush to commemorate the fallen should result in artistically undesirable monuments in churches.

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s Message in the April Diocesan Magazine:

You are asked specially to pray…

For all the troops in our towns and villages and camps, and those ministering to them.


With regard to the Retreats, I am very thankful that we shall have 600 of the parochial clergy in a full-time retreat. To accommodate them I have secured the use of Radley, Bradfield and (I hope) Wellington Colleges and Wycombe Abbey School for the first week in August (Monday to Friday or Tuesday to Saturday) and Queen’s College, Oxford, for the second week. I do not propose to issue any further instructions with regard to these retreats, nor finally arrange which of the places each of the clergy is to be directed, until the beginning of June.

I am relying entirely on the clergy to let it be known to all laymen and women, especially the most genuine churchpeople, that the Bishop of London, the Chairman of the Central Council of the Mission, will speak to us in Oxford, in the Sheldonian Theatre, at 3 pm on Wednesday, April 19th, and at Reading, in the Town Hall, on the same day at 8 pm.

I propose that St George’s Day, which falls on Easter Day, should this year be transferred to May 2nd… In any case I hope the clergy will not let the observance of St George’s Day intrude itself upon the observance of Easter Day…
But there is a local movement, I understand, to promote the observance of St George’s Day on Saturday, April 29th.

I cannot but dread the wave of war-memorials in churches which we must expect after the war. The notion of such memorials will be excellent: but will our venerable old churches be really the better in result or the worse? The age we live in is not one when taste in decoration is common. Of course we cannot expect the Chancellor, in granting faculties, to go into questions of art. But I hope to get some diocesan committee to work, with some men on it who will command respect, to advise all who will seek their advice about war memorials. Meanwhile I would earnestly ask the clergy in doubt about the suitableness of any proposed memorial to consult me. I may even now be able to help them to competent advice.


Earley St Peter parish magazine, April 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/4)

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