The General Memorial should in every way take precedence of individual memorials

The parish of Wargrave made some decisions about future war memorials.

War Memorials

The Bishop wrote a letter to the Diocese, in October, 1917, in which he said:-

“Experience has already shown that it is most desirable that local effort should be concentrated on one common Memorial. It is also important to consider carefully the nature of any proposal made, and to obtain competent advice, if possible on the spot, so that every memorial should be worthy of the occasion and permanent in character. To obtain satisfactory results, some delay and great care are imperative.”

The Bishop also commended to the Diocese a memorandum drawn up by an Advisory Committee on the subject. The first three points are as follows:-

(1) Advice should be sought when a Memorial is first proposed, and before the question of the form it should take is decided.

(2) The Committee urges the importance of concentrating upon one common design and the avoidance, if possible, of several small Memorials. The best and most permanent Memorial is that which best harmonizes with the building or surroundings in which it is placed. It is not intended to exclude separate Memorials erected under one common scheme, e.g. the fitting up of a chapel.

(3) The creation of a united Memorial should be postponed until the end of the War, though it may be of importance to decide beforehand what form it should take.

The General Memorial

A General Memorial to those, from the Parish of Wargrave, who give their lives for their Country is already secured, in the Parish Church, by the erection of the East Window. But it will not be completed until the end of the War. It is necessarily incomplete until the record of names has been inscribed, and a sum of money has been set apart for that purpose. But the East Window is the gift of one donor and there is no doubt that many others would like to join together in the completion of the Memorial. The form which such Complete Memorial will take is at present undecided, except that a list of the names will be incorporated in it. There are, unfortunately, already as many as thirty-nine names on this Roll of Honour. So long a list necessarily affects the question of design and treatment.

If many people wished to join in erecting such a General Memorial in the Parish Church after the War, they might determine, instead of merely erecting a tablet, to embellish some portion of the Church with carved wood and sculptured stone, so as to establish a Place of Memorial, or even a Memorial Chapel to those who shall have fallen which could express in the most permanent form the affection and gratitude of those for whom they died.

One generous offer has already been made which confirms the probability of such a plan. If anything of the kind is at all likely to become the general wish of the parish, it is very important that the Vicar and Churchwardens should not allow any individual monuments to be now erected which would afterwards impede an artist in planning a general design.

Individual Memorials

Everyone will agree that the General Memorial should have precedence of all individual memorials, it is therefore necessary to decide at once upon the part of the Church where the General Memorial shall be placed.

But it may well happen that some parishioners may wish to erect Individual Memorials in the actual part of the Church which is thus reserved. They may feel that they wish their particular memorials to be incorporated in the general one, while preserving the individual character of their personal tribute. If this be so they must either defer the design and erection of their Memorials until the General Memorial is taken in hand, or we must now form some idea of what the General Memorial is to be and choose our Artist, so that he may take charge at once. He would then only allow such Individual Memorials as would fit into his general design and harmonise with it.

And, apart from this particular matter of War Memorials, there is a real need for the expert advice of an Artist in the case of any application for the erection of a monument. A Parish Church is designed as one whole, to which all features should happily contribute. It would be quite possible to introduce a monument which, though beautiful in itself, would be generally regretted as out of harmony with the view of the building as a whole. And even if a monument were unobjectionable in this respect there are questions of style, material, and treatment which require expert knowledge.

The decision itself rests with the Vicar, but he needs expert advice to enable him to decide in a way which will secure general approval in the years to come. It therefore seems best to choose some one Artist, who will be generally acceptable to the Parish, and to ask him to act as our adviser to whom all designs for proposed memorials may be submitted.

The Meeting of Parishioners

In the face of these difficulties the Vicar and Churchwardens invited the Parishioners to meet them on Friday, July 19th, in the Parish Room. The Vicar explained the situation and asked for some guidance as to their wishes.

There was a unanimous feeling that the General Memorial should in every way take precedence of individual memorials, that the general supervision should be entrusted to one Artist, and that the form of which the General Memorial should take should be deferred until the Artist’s views could be known. But it was unanimously resolved:-

“That the East End of the South Aisle be set apart for Memorials to those who have fallen in the Great War.”

The Vicar then submitted the name of Sir Charles Nicholson to the meeting. He explained that the Churchwardens and he had no special knowledge and no prejudice for or against any particular name, but they had done all they could to find the man best suited for the task. In the course of these enquiries this name gradually took precedence, and when they consulted the Church Crafts League, (as suggested by the Diocesan Advisory Committee), the Secretary wrote as follows:-

“Our correspondence re the proposed decorative work in your Church was considered at our Committee Meeting yesterday and it was the unanimous opinion that you could not do better than consult Sir Charles Nicholson.”

The Meeting, after some discussion, unanimously resolved:-

“That the name of Sir Charles Nicholson, Bart., F.R.I.B.A., submitted to the Parishioners in accordance with the notice convening the meeting, be adopted subject to the support of the Building Committee.’

Wargrave parish magazine, August 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

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