The New Year opens with far happier and brighter prospects than we have known since 1914

The vicar of Reading St Mary was optimistic about the future.

The Vicar’s Notes

The very best wishes to all S. Mary’s people for 1919. The New Year opens with far happier and brighter prospects than we have known since 1914. And so we may well look forward to the future with hope and courage.

All would wish to give their truest sympathy to Dr. and Mrs. Holden on the sad loss of their boy from influenza: also to Mrs. Collins, of Gun Street, on the sudden death of her husband.

R.I.P.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P98/28A/16)

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A good tea of quite pre-war quality and quantity

Things were beginning to get back to normal.

For four weeks, in common with the other schools in the town, our [Sunday] School was closed in consequence of the so called “Influenza” which has recently raged in our midst….

On the 15th inst. Our usual New Year Treat to the children (and it’s a real treat to the Officers and Teachers also) was held in the Schoolroom. At 5.30 the scholars sat down to a good tea of quite pre-war quality and quantity.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, February 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

There is an ugly temper brewing in some quarters, and if things show no signs of mending, there will be trouble

Peacetime offered new challenges for the country, especially with a newly democratic parliament.

THE NEW YEAR.

The old wish, “A Happy New Year,” seems out of place just now. There is too much strenuous work to be done, there are too many calls upon our best manhood and womanhood for any of us to be looking round for mere happiness. Happiness is for future years, when the social fabric of the nations has been put together again, and there is rest. In the new year we are expecting great things from the Parliament, which is charged with a duty weighty and solemn beyond all precedent. Too much in the past our statesmen have forgotten God and His righteousness in the fashioning of laws. If we want a strong nation, we must get it established upon the foundations of eternal justice and love. We have got to make our nation really Christian, for only in that way can it endure. The most cleverly constructed constitution in the world will rot and go to pieces if it be not in harmony with the teaching of the Gospels. On Christ, the solid rock, it must stand, all other ground is sinking sand. What an opportunity the country has to-day! Now is our chance to uplift the nation and the world into Christian ideals! Let us batter the gates of heaven with storms of prayer for it.

We are all hoping, too, for a higher level of social life in our country, that life may be made more tolerable for all classes. We must do something towards getting money dethroned, towards rooting out that vulgar error that wealth means money. True wealth is life and happiness and peace, work to do and love to bestow. Wealth means quality of life. It is to have capacity for noble joy and noble sorrow, it is to have a passion for love and beauty and truth. The vulgar craving for money, the race for wealth, has brought about the thrusting down of the poor and the workers, and conditions in our towns and villages that will not be longer tolerated. There is an ugly temper brewing in some quarters, and if things show no signs of mending, there will be trouble.

The solution of all our problems is in making Christ the actual reigning King of life, national and personal. The Prime Minister spoke recently of a wave of materialism which he said always followed great wars. Was he right in saying “always?” When England had been saved from a great danger by the destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588, was there not a sense of gratitude to God, and a great revival of religion? And was there not a similar revival at the close of the Napoleonic wars? If we Christians will put our hearts into it, with prayer and consecration, we can make much for Christ of this great opportunity. If we will fight unbelief and materialism, if we will wage warfare for the Kingdom of Christ, as our men fought on the banks of the Yser, and in the Valley of the Somme, our national life will be purer, and Christ will find place in many hearts.

So let us not wish each other this time “A Happy New Year,” but a guided and a useful and a blessed New Year.

T.F. LEWIS.

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, January 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

We may elect to have a memorial of thanks giving and peace and deliverance from our enemies

An Earley church had various suggestions as to how it should remember the war.

Vicar’s letter

My dear people

The time has come when we may begin to consider whether we will shall have some parish memorial of the great war, and if so, what form it would take. Two courses are open to us. We may elect to have a memorial of thanks giving and peace and deliverance from our enemies; or we may prefer a memorial to the holy dead who have laid down their lives for their country. The latter would almost necessarily take effect within the walls of the church; the former would not be so restricted. It is possible to combine the two ideas.

Some suggestions as to the form which a memorial might take have already been made. They are set down here that their merits may be weighed and considered before a meeting is summoned to deal with the whole matter. The first proposal is to enlarge the parish hall “to pull down the west wall, and in its place support the roof on light iron pillars, between which there are should be shutters that would roll up so as to make the room large or small as required”. The writer adds “If a tablet is to be placed in the church with the names of those from the parish who have fallen in the war, perhaps some inscription could be added to the effect that the hall had been enlarged.”

A second suggestion is to panel the walls of the Lady Chapel with oak, with a list of those fallen in the war inscribed on the panels.

The advantage of the latter scheme over the former would be in the matter of expense. A comparatively small amount would suffice, and any surplus could well be spent with advantage on furniture for the chapel.

A third suggestion is the painting and decoration of the roof of the aisles and nave. This, again, need not be very costly, and if carried out in harmony with the chancel roof would add very much to the beauty of the interior of the church, besides greatly increasing its lighting powers.

A fourth suggestion is the erection of a north porch, which, if of sufficient size would be of great convenience and would form the principle entrance, setting free the west end of the nave for sitting accommodation as it ought to be.

It is proposed that in the first instance, these and other suggestions should go before the Church Council, and that subsequently, they should call a general meeting.

You will allow me to conclude with my heartfelt wish for a happier New Year to you all than was possible when I last wrote my New Year’s greetings. Upon our parish as on all parishes the war has left its mark of sorrow. The remembrance of it will stimulate us to a truer devotion and more unselfish life of service.

I am affectionately yours

E J Norris

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P192/28A/15)

Let us play our part manfully for God in the new conditions we all have to face

Maidenhead continued to celebrate peace and look to the future.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners …

Alas, we have to raise the price of the Magazine to 2d, when bought from a District Visitor, or over the counter at Mr Marsh’s shop. The price for a year, delivered separately, is 2/6 instead of 1/6. We are, I believe, the last Magazine in Berkshire to raise our price, but last year has been run at a loss, and the cost of paper and printing has enormously increased…

Then may I wish you all a very Happy New Year, the safe return of all friends from the Forces, and a final Peace on just lines in the world…

As regards the future, the Band of Hope Tea is to be held on January 7th at Brock Lane Room, St Luke’s Sunday School Treat on January 23rd, and North Town later on. For these treats I will gladly receive (and even request) donations. Let us make our Armistice Tea a success.

Then as regards the further future, I hope to call a Meeting to discuss a War Memorial for the Parish of St Luke, Maidenhead, in February, as, doubtless, the Mayor will call upon all citizens to do something for the Borough at the Town Meeting in January. I think we ought, as Church people, to plan something definite for the Church or its work. Let us put our heads together in the meantime…

In the meantime, let us try and back up our existing work, so as to play our part manfully for God in the new conditions we all have to face.

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C E M Fry.
Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

The new year opens bright with hope, like a glorious morning after the night of darkness and storm

Churchgoers in Warfield and Winkfield rejoiced.

Warfield

It is suggested by the Archbishops that special thanksgiving for Victory, and special prayer for the statesmen of the world assembled in the Peace Conference, should be offered on the first Sunday in the new year, January 5th. The new year opens bright with hope, like a glorious morning after the night of darkness and storm. Clouds are still in the sky, but they are broken and the sun shines through. May we render thanks and glory to God in the Highest; and pray Him to inspire men with His own Spirit of Good-will, for good-will alone can bring true and lasting peace to homes, to nations and to all mankind.

It is hoped to hold a meeting during January, to consider the raising of a War Memorial in the Parish.

Winkfield

On the first Sunday, (January 5th) in the new year, which we trust will bring us the blessing of a just and lasting Peace, it is indeed fitting that we should join with other parishes all over the land in special Thanksgivings for Victory and deliverance from our enemies, and also pray specially for our Rulers and the Statesmen of the world, that the coming Peace Conference they may be enabled to lay the foundation of the effective establishment of a League of Nations which will prevent the horrors of war in the future.

Winkfield District Magazine, January 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11)

A Peace which we have every reason to believe will shape the destiny of the world for many generations to come

Clewer Church looked forward with optimism.

Our first duty and privilege is to wish all our Readers a Happy New Year – and we do so with more confidence in the future than we have felt for some years past. This year will be known as ‘The Peace Year’, for in it is to be laid the foundation of a Peace which we have every reason to believe will, with the Blessing of God, shape the destiny of the world for many generations to come. How earnestly we ought to pray for the guidance of those who are now taking part in the Peace conference at Paris, that by their endeavours, ‘Peace and Happiness, Truth and Justice, Religion and Piety,’ may be established amongst the Nations of the World for all generations – The great Victory which Almighty God vouchsafed to us in 1918, has opened out to us such glorious prospects of better things to come, if only we prove ourselves worthy of them, that we realize that the present year is the most critical period in the history of mankind.

On the first Sunday in the New Year Special Prayer and Thanksgiving will be offered in all Churches that we may dedicate ourselves to afresh to Him who alone is “the Giver of Victory and the Author of Peace.”

Our alms on Sunday, Jan. 5th, will be for the Red Cross Society as in the years during the War.

Clewer parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P39/28A/9)

There is still a very stiff bit of road to be travelled before the desired end can be reached

Some now wanted to move forward instead of looking back at the war.

MINISTER’S JOTTINGS

Without the slightest misgiving I can most cordially wish every reader of these notes a very glad and happy New Year. It is a great joy to be able to do this once more. During the past four years of strife and bloodshed it has not been possible; but we are now at the dawning of a brighter and better day. We thank God for the answer to our many prayers, and we take courage. There is still a very stiff bit of road to be travelled before the desired end can be reached. But the future is bright with promise, and we shall earnestly pray that the terms of the peace, which we eagerly anticipate, may be such as shall make all war impossible in future.

Meantime, we must get to work to set our house in order. During the time of war we have been compelled to suspend several of our ordinary activities. The time has now come when we must begin to think about renewing them. Though our energies have been diverted from the usual channels they have not been wasted. Far from it. Excellent work has been done in providing hospitality for the men and women in khaki in our midst, and we cannot be too grateful to the splendid band of helpers who have carried the work through so successfully. But with the coming of peace the necessity for this service will be gone. Reconstruction is the word which is on all lips in these days. Let us seriously tackle our own problems of reconstruction, and thus help to ensure the happy future for which we pray.

BROTHERHOOD

Again we are at the beginning of a new year, and at this time there is a tendency to look backward, when we cannot help remembering the terrible tragedy of the last four years. But turning and looking forward, we see a brighter time coming for the whole world.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, January 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

The great gift of Peace

How would the country change now that it was at peace again?

January 1st, 1919.

My Parishioners and Friends,

Four successive years have found us in the midst of the heavy stress of war with its grievous anxieties and sorrows. A New Year opens with this war closed and our hearts full of thankfulness to the God Who has righted wrong and saved the world from its deadly peril.

November 17th found our churches filled with devout worshippers, and our Thanksgiving Service with its glorious “Te Deum” moved us, perhaps, as we have never been moved before. Even our great days of Intercession during the war scarcely seemed to bring the power and providence of God so near.

Shall not the close of the war make a fresh beginning in our relations with God. The beautiful “General Thanksgiving” in our Prayer Book teaches us to say:

“We beseech Thee, give us that due sense of all Thy mercies… that we shew forth Thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives.”

We often try to adjust our lives towards one another. The whole of England is trying to do it now in what we call “Social Reconstruction”. This great gift of Peace calls us to adjust our lives towards God….

May God make the year one of peace and happiness to us all, our Nation and Empire.

Your affectionate Rector,
Alfred J P Shepherd.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, January 1919 (D/EX725/4)

“Beginning again in the dark”

There was great sympathy for soldiers’ whose war wounds had left them blind.

FOR ST DUNSTAN’S

We have done a good many generous things as a church, but it is doubtful if we ever responded quite so well as when we helped the cause of the Blinded Soldiers and Sailors during the Christmas season. Starting in quite a modest way with the suggestion that our choir should provide a carol service in the evening of Christmas Sunday [28 December 1918], the plans gathered sympathy, until they included a United Carol Service in the Village Hall on the Sunday evening referred to, a collection at the Watch-night service, and a special gathering of personal donations from members of our church and congregation. By this means £10 3s. 4d. was raised for those “beginning again in the dark”. We recognise that this was a united effort, and do not take the credit to ourselves, but we do appreciate the kindly sympathy that our folks showed in both subscribing to and organising such a fund.

Tilehurst Congregational Church section of Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, February 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“How happy shall we go back, with the knowledge that we have conquered one of the world’s deadliest foes”

The Belgian family who had received the hositality of Maidenhead Congregationalists were grateful.

OUR BELGIANS.

We print a letter received from Mr. and Mrs. Van Hoof. They are expecting to return to Belgium in the spring. Some thousands of their fellow refugees have already been repatriated.

14, Fairford Road,
December 23rd, 1918.

To the Committee.

Dear Ladies and gentlemen,-

It will not be long now before we shall be leaving you, so that we are writing to thank you for your goodness towards us. Never shall we forget what you did for us when we most needed it. How happy shall we go back, with the knowledge that we have conquered one of the world’s deadliest foes.

Wishing you all a merry Christmas and a bright New Year,

From the grateful family,

VAN HOOF.

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, January 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“The Buffs were smashed but our own line was intact”

Another of Sydney Spencer’s comrades made contact.

Hope Cottage
Baguley
Cheshire

23rd Decr 1918

Dear Mrs Image

I received your letter some days ago. As regards Sydney’s narrative I can add only a few particulars as I was hit the day the Boche attacked. I remember the strafe we got; Sydney had just relieved me and was in the front line when Johnny’s 27th Division attacked the Buffs on our right. The Buffs were smashed but our own line was intact. That evening (it was 6th Aug) we were told of the attack due on 8th, shortly afterwards I was hit and saw my last of Sydney and the others.

At present I am enjoying twelve days Xmas leave, and I hope that it will be my last leave. I expect to be discharged soon.

Thank you very much for your kind invitation. If ever I am in Cambridge I shall look you up.

You may rely on my doing my best to get any further information re Sydney that I can.

With best wishes for a Happy Xmas and New Year

I am
Yours sincerely

W I Dilworth

Letter of sympathy to Florence Image on the death of Sydney (D/EX801/81)

We may find peace more dangerous than war, but we have great faith in the newly granted votes for women

Earley women were encouraged to consider their vote.

The Vicar’s Letter

My Dear Friends

Our first feeling this month is surely one of deep thankfulness to Almighty God for our deliverance from the dark cloud of war that has so long brooded over us; we can hardly yet realise the greatness of our victory; as a nation, we have taken it calmly and seriously, and in our thanksgiving services, we have shown that we definitely ascribe it to the giver of all good. It is well that we should have been so, for we have a great deal before us; in the first place let us pray earnestly for a just and righteous, an an abiding peace; and in the next place let us all remember the great responsibilities that are opening upon us, or we may find peace more dangerous than war.

After all great wars there has always been more or less of an upheaval, and many people are looking forward with dread to the next two or three years, but we feel sure that the common sense of our country will prevail, and that the spirit in which we have carried on through the war will carry us on through the early and troublesome times of peace, if we are only true to ourselves and the principles on which we have met the long struggle for right and justice.

Not least among the factors which will make for this result is the coming General Election; if everyone will give his or her vote for what he or she thinks really best for the welfare of the nation. We shall have gone far to solve many of the problems that will soon press upon us: and in this connection we have great faith in the newly granted votes for women; it is surely a great historic occasion when the “Mother of Parliaments” for the first time admits women to vote for her formation, and we hope that there will be no slackness in recording the vote, but that every woman will weigh for herself the position of affairs and fully discharge her responsibility.

Owing to the very large increase in the cost of printing and paper the Magazine, if continued, will have under present arrangements, to face a deficit of £40 or £50 for the coming year; moreover, it is impossible to obtain nearly a sufficient number of the “Dawn of Day” to go round, as the publishers cannot supply more than about 400 copies, and we want nearly 600; it is therefore, possible, that the magazine may have to be discontinued for a year; if this is the case we hope to issue a bi-monthly or quarterly sheet containing the chief Parish news at the price of a halfpenny a copy, as is done in other parishes. In any case we hope to continue the Magazine on its old basis, as soon as conditions improve.

In case, therefore, that the Magazine does not appear in January, I take this opportunity of wishing everyone a Happy New Year as well as a Happy Christmas; we have much, very much, to be thankful for, and we should try and show our thankfulness by sympathizing withal those whose Christmas will be darkened, though we may hope not without happiness, by helping others, and above all by consecrating our lives by coming to the Holy Communion on Christmas Day, and resolving come more regularly in the future.

Your friend and Vicar.

W.W. FOWLER.

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

Christmas cards only

Irish internees were allowed to send Christmas cards.

4.11.18
[to] Governor
Reading P of I

The Secretary of State has decided to allow the Interned Irish Prisoners to obtain a supply of Christmas and New Years cards for the purpose of sending them to their friends if they so desire. The cards must be ordered and obtained by correspondence through the censor in the ordinary manner and then the time arrives they may be sent to the friends. These cards will not count among the number of letters allowed the prisoner each week and they must carry no communication beyond the printed greetings and the signature and address of the sender.

The cards permitted should be of a simple kind & printed on glazed paper. When ready for despatch they should be examined first at the prison and then sent in bundles bearing the label “Christmas cards only” to the Chief Postal Censor.

Sd A J Wall
Sec

A copy of this has been placed in the Sinn Fein prison.

C M Morgan
Gov
11/11/18

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

“Some “Johnny Turk” thought it was time I had one”

A Reading man who had been wounded was back in the fray, fighting in the Middle East.

Feb 21st

You will be pleased to hear that I have quite recovered from my wound and that I am now back up the line once again amongst the boys, feeling absolutely in the best of health. We were in some very hot fighting about nine miles north of Jerusalem, on the 21st November, when some “Johnny Turk” thought it was time I had one. I was wounded in the left thigh and right hip, and was very fortunate to have no bones broken. I spent Xmas in hospital at Alexandria having a top-hole time, and went to a Convalescent Home just outside Alexandria the first day of this year….

We are some miles behind our new line doing some very hard training, but you can guess we do not mind that after the hard and rough times we had in the great advance…

W. Palmer (OS)

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, June 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)