Lovely procession

The Bisham war memorial was dedicated.

18 June 1919

Memorial service in church, then processed through village to Cross for dedication. Bishop [of] Buckingham came. Most lovely.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

No government has ever had to face a greater task than that which will now come to power

The suffragan Bishop of Buckingham warned there was still a great deal of work to do.

The Bishop’s Message

The war is over and we cannot find words to express our feelings: only in our thanksgiving to Almighty God can we give utterance to the thoughts of our hearts.

The war is over, but the stupendous task remains of repairing the breaches, building up the waste places, and restoring the paths to dwell in. This can be done only if the same spirit is maintained-the unity of effort, the subordination of selfish interests, the wise leadership, the loyal co-operation, the self-sacrifice, the organization, the discipline which has brought us to victory – if this is preserved in peace. The spiritual forces of the whole world must be moved in action. The League of Nations is not a fancy of visionaries; it is a practical possibility which can be realized if Christians unite to bring it about. It is not enough to wish for it, or even to pray for it, we must work for it. Surely here the Church must make its influence felt and not be daunted by difficulties in the way.

The Marriage Laws

We have reason to be devoutly thankful that the Divorce Bill was defeated in the House of Lords, but there are strong forces at work and we must be watchful. It is indeed distressing that at such a time as this there should be such persistent efforts to lower the moral standard – for that must be the effect in spite of the specious arguments. We owe a debt to Lord Parmoor for his vigorous leading.

The General Election

No government has ever had to face a greater task than that which will now come to power. The election will be a great test of the nation’s purpose. Can we put aside all petty issues and party bitterness and selfish aims and unitedly undertake the great work of reconstruction in a manner worthy of a people that has proved itself so great? The prayers which have been such a power in the war can be no less effective in gaining the victories of peace. Here are some questions on which we hope the church may speak with a united voice, for example, the immediate need of dealing with the housing of the people, the improved standard of Wages, the Education question, and the retention of control of the liquor trade. We render humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God fo0r the great and glorious victory, and for the fidelity, courage and devotion of the allied forces.

We pray

For the great Council of the nations which shall determine the conditions of peace.

For the ministry of the crown and those upon whom rests the duty of leadership in restoring conditions of peace in all countries.

For all those who profess and call themselves Christians, that they may act accordingly to their profession.

For the Church, that it may, by wise action, have due influence in the counsels of the nation.

For our troops, that they may be strong to resist the special temptations to which they are exposed.

For the soldiers who are prepared to take Holy Orders.

For the General Election.

For the Central Board of Finance, and for success in the promotion of the Central Fund of the Church of England.

For the revival of Missionary work which has been hindered by the war.

For the Diocesan Board of Missions.

For the C.E.T.S.

For the Diocesan Inspectors.


Earley St Peter parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P191/28A/25)

“As far as it is possible to anticipate in these uncertain times”

It was hard to make plans during war time.

Harvest Festival

It seems rather early to announce any notions of the Harvest, but everyone will be glad to hear that the Bishop of Buckingham has kindly promised to come and preach for this Festival on Sunday, September 30th, “as far as it is possible to anticipate in these uncertain times”.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

For the deepening of the spirit of self-sacrifice

The Bishop of Oxford’s latest message:


The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the March Diocesan magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked

For the good hand of God upon us in the war:

For those who travel by sea, especially the Bishop of Buckingham:
And for the prisoners of war:

For the deepening of the spirit of self-sacrifice and the desire for purity, temperance and justice in the nation:

For glad correspondence on the part of all with the demand for national service, and for wisdom in freeing the clergy for exceptional kinds of service:…

Earley St Peter parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

The spiritual welfare of those who are so ready to give their lives in the great cause

Reading churchgoers were asked to contribute towards the cost of building a chapel at the closest army camp.

The Vicar’s Notes
Best greetings and blessings to all the parish for the New Year. There seem to be real signs at last of the prospect of peace. God grant that, when it comes, it may be real and lasting.

The Following Appeal comes from the Bishop of Buckingham.

Halton Camp.

With the approach of winter the problem of holding the church parade Services for this large camp has become acute. The accommodation provided by the Churches in the immediate neighbourhood, and by the Y.M.C.A. huts (which are readily lent for the purpose, and which are doing such excellent work), is quite insufficient for the purpose. With the present accommodation it would require many more parades than are possible every Sunday to take in all the troops attending Church.

It is proposed therefore to erect a large wooden building capable of holding 1,000 to 1,500 men, such has been found suitable in other large camps. The primary objective would be to make provision for the Church services during the winter, but the building would also be available for other purposes. It is estimated that the cost of such a building would be £1,000. Voluntary help would be given by qualified architects among the troops and Royal Engineers.

This is the only large camp in the Diocese of Oxford, and we feel that the Church people of the Diocese will be desirous of showing their interest in the spiritual welfare of those who are so ready to give their lives in the great cause by making by making a prompt and adequate answer to this appeal. It is most desirable that the matter should be put in hand at once, before the severe weather sets in.

The scheme has the hearty approval of the General Officer Commanding and the Bishop of Oxford and the Bishop of Buckingham.

Subscriptions will be thankfully received by the Senior Chaplain, the Rev. P.W.N. Shirley, Halton Camp, Bucks, or by the Bishop of Buckingham, Beaconsfield.


During the past month there has been an exceptional amount of sickness and a large number of deaths. Our deepest sympathy is given to all those who have suffered the loss of those near and dear to them. May the divine comforter bring them every consolation and support in their time of sorrow.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P96/28A/15)

“Even if our unity holds more or less during the war, we know how acute the crisis will be after the war”

The Bishop of Oxford had a message for churchgoers. His concerns included the welcome to be offered to servicemen seeking God while home on leave, and the country’s future.

We are sorry to be obliged to do without the usual red cover for our Magazine. The supply of red paper is exhausted, and we are afraid it will be impossible to get any more until after the war.


The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the February Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are asked for the good hand of God upon us in the war.
For the campaign in Mesopotamia and at Salonica.
For the maintenance of unity in the nation.
For the Chaplains in the Navy and the Army.
For the men and women at work in factories and workshops.
For the deepening of penitence in the church and nation.


We have heard it announced by the archbishops and others that some sort of national mission or general spiritual campaign is in contemplation. A good many of us are asking questions – What does it mean? How can it be carried out on so great a scale? What is asked of us in particular? I cannot at present answer these questions, but I hope to be able to give some sort of answer to them before long. Meanwhile there are certain considerations which, I am sure, appeal to all of us.

(1) A good many of our soldiers at the front – some wounded and sick and some still sound in body – have been brought to feel the need of religion and prayer, and have been seeking confirmation and communion. We who are at home desire with all our hearts that when they come home on leave or for good, they should find a religious life around them, and offering itself to them, such as shall correspond with their desires for a better life – such as shall maintain and not chill their good intentions. I think the clergy and communicants in every parish ought to make it a special intention in prayer and a special object in action that the soldiers and sailors from their own parish shall find, when they return, in their homes and in the whole society the sort of welcome which in their best selves they desire.

(2) We are conscious that although the war has brought some sense of unity in the nation, yet the root of bitterness is still putting forth vigorous shoots. The bitterness between classes is still acute. Even if our unity holds more or less during the war, we know how acute the crisis will be after the war. And we feel with shame how very little power the church has to express or maintain the spirit of brotherhood. We do desire with all our hearts that the church should regain its ancient power.

We are conscious that we are being judged not so much for personal, as for corporate sins… We have been told, till we are weary of hearing it, how little our soldiers and sailors know about their religion…

The Bishop of Buckingham
Very few among us are called to the same sacrifice as the Bishop of Buckingham, who has lost a second son in the war and has still others in peril in the Army and the Navy. We can only assure him of our prayers for him and his, and of our thankfulness for his courage and faith.

C. Oxon

Earley St Peter parish magazine, February 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/1)

No men have offered themselves as readily as the bellringers

The annual meeting of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (for bellringers of the parish churches of Arborfield, Easthampstead, Finchampstead, Hurst, Sandhurst, Sonning, Wargrave, Wokingham All Saints and Wokingham St Paul) paid tribute to bellringers’ contributions to the war effort.

This meeting of the Sonning Deanery Branch was held on Sat Jan 13th. A service of Intercession was held at All Saints’ Church at 5.30 pm. There was a good attendance of men, considering the absence of many men on active service in the war; there were also present several Lady Ringers, who had joined since the war began. The Rector read out a list of those members (37 in number) who had joined HM Forces, including 2 who had given their lives for their country – A M Priest (Hurst) and C Rideout (St Paul’s, Wokingham); G Collins (Sandhurst) reported “missing”.

The Rev. P H Ditchfield gave an earnest & appropriate address. Usually, he said, they met in the atmosphere of gladness & rejoicing at their Festival, but a something, like a muffled peal, seemed to go through their belfries, owing to the war. No body of men had offered themselves so readily & willingly for the sake of their King & Country as had the Church Bellringers. That was but to be expected of men who had been accustomed to place their God, their duty, before ease & pleasure, the cause of right before the cause of wrong. Some of their brothers had made the supreme sacrifice, had given the highest pledge of their love for dear ones & for home. Wonderful it was how again and again the home prayers had helped & sustained them through the dangers & hardships they had been called upon to endure. Let them pray for their brothers who once stood beside them in the belfry tower. The sound of the bells brought courage & hope & confidence to many a troubled spirit. God grant that long before another year dawned they might call their teams together to ring the triumphant peal of victory!…

The Chairman… said he felt sure that the sympathy of members would go to the Bishop of Buckingham (a Vice-President of the Guild) who had just lost a 3rd son in the war.

Minutes of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (D/EX2436/1)