“Even here aeroplanes are more ubiquitous than motor cars and went droning thro the blue at a great height like beetles”

On an antiquarian trip to his home region in the Vale of White Horse, William Hallam took the time to pay his respects at a war shrine.

18th May 1918

Got up at 7. Went to Challow sta. at 20 past 9. Walked thro’ Goosey across the fields – then onto Charney. Here I looked in the church as a young woman was cleaning it and getting ready for a wedding she told me. Notice that queer carving in chapel. Then I copied down all the Inscriptions I could decipher. The I went to a cottage and enquired the way to Cherbury Camp but the old man said I meant Chawberry. He told me the nearest way but I mistook it and went a devil of a way round. However I enquired again and got there alright about 1 o’clock. I was surprised to find such a perfect camp still existing in the midst of agricultural land. I sat on the bank and ate my lunch of bread and butter and a hard boiled egg and revelled in the sun. The cuckoo had been on all day long. The first day I’ve heard him this spring. There was not a cloud in the sky and even here aeroplanes are more ubiquitous than motor cars and went droning thro the blue at a great height like beetles. I sat here and thought for an hour. I looked over the ploughed field in the encampment and found one flint chip.

I came back into Charney the way I should have come – much nearer- and went into the Pub and had a pint and a ½ of ale. This landlady Shepherd knew me by seeing me regularly at St. Paul’s as they lived at Swindon until 3 years ago when they took this Pub. Her husband a smith now working she told me at Cheltenham in aeroplane works and rides on a bike to & from every week end- 45 miles. I asked about this old house near the Church. She told me a lady had bought it 2 or 3 years ago and spent a lot of money on it – then before she had finished it got tired of it and sold it to a Col. Colmes for 1800£ and now he is spending as much as he gave for it in restoring it. Fortunately in antiquarian lines the chapel & all being put back as it should be. When I started back I sat on the Oak bridge and saw the wedding – not a khaki one – party came out – quite a village wedding – all walking.

It was a scalding hot day and as I sat on a heap of stones resting and having a smoke 2 Swindon men passed by and had a chat on their way to Longworth. Further along the road I turned off and went to Denchworth & looked over the Church & churchyard and here I saw the first war shrine. A frame with a crucifix and list of the names of all the young men gone from the village with a prayer for the passer by to offer up for them so took off my hat and said it. Before it on a ledge were 2 brass vases of fresh flowers. I got back to Challow St. at 6 o’clock and got up home here at ½ past 7. The Country is at its best now especially the Vale.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

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All our thoughts and prayers just now are with our brave men fighting in the tremendous struggle on the Western Front

A war shrine for prayers for the war was dedicated at Speenhamland.

All our thoughts and prayers just now are with our brave men fighting in the tremendous struggle on the Western Front. May God bless and protect them and grant them victory!

The second Sunday after Easter [14 April] was a very happy day, being kept, as usual, as our Dedication Festival. During the procession before the Sung Service the Vicar dedicated the War Shrine, which looked beautiful. The choir excelled itself on this day and the church looked at its best.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2)

Quite an effective war shrine

All Saints’ Church in Reading was the latest to have a special shrine in the church for war related prayer.

Church Army Hut Fund

Lenten savings for the Church Army Hut Fund should be sent in at once.

War Shrine

The list and Roll of Honour have been fixed between the Chapel and the south door, and form quite an effective shrine, surmounted by The Union Jack, the kind gift of Miss Ward.

An oak bracket for flowers, etc., has also been fixed, kindly given by Mrs. Ward. We are grateful to Mr. Moss for kindly fixing up the lists of honour. We hope that the shrine will be dedicated at our Dedication Festival.

All Saints section of Reading St Mary parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

A muffled peal rings in Reading

The parish of Reading St Mary had to mourn a number of losses.

The Vicar’s Notes

We have to mourn two losses lately, which have brought the War sadly home to us at S. Mary’s. William Holloway, Sergeant in the Royal Berks, was our Cross-bearer, a member of our Choir, the first server at our Altar, and Secretary of our Men’s Club. His whole character was marked by the strongest loyalty, loyalty to his country, and to his Church. His influence was wholly and entirely for good. We are thankful that his death was painless and instantaneous. A “Requiem” was said for him on Monday, Oct.22nd, at 7-30, and a wreath placed on the War-shrine by the Servers on Sunday, Oct. 28th.

The other loss is that of Alfred T. Reeves, one of our youngest bell-ringers. He was seldom absent from the belfry on Sundays, and a muffled peal was rung, out of respect for his memory, on Wednesday, Oct. 17th.

May they both rest in peace.

Notice
Men of Engineering or Seafaring experience, also Tradesmen or Labourers, of any age, who are desirous of doing ruminative war-work are advised to apply to the Rev. R. Wickham Legg, of S.Mary’s Vicarage, Reading, who is in a position to help them to this end.

Intercessions

For all our Allies, especially the Italians.

For all our fighting men, and also for those who have lately joined the Army, especially Harry Frewin (one of our Altar Servers).

For the sick, the prisoners and the wounded, especially Walter Towner, one of our Choirmen, severely wounded in the head and thigh; for Fred Eggleton, one o0f the Banner-bearers; for Arthur Stokes (of Cherry Court).

For the fallen, especially for William Holloway, our first Altar server at S. Mary’s; for Alfred T. Reeves, one of our Bell-ringers; for Cecil Coulton (of Lavender Street).
R.I.P.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

“Personally, my hopes lie in the Constituent Assembly choosing a Constitutional Monarchy” in Russia

Customary insistence that churchgoers should wear their Sunday best had gone by the wayside.

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

This short line comes to greet you in the midst of what I hope will be pleasant summer weather. The very beauty of Nature around us must make us in our green Island think of the goodness of God’s bounty to us all ; and it must in our thankfulness suggest to us how great our sympathy should be with all those of our kith and kin, who in weariness too often, in hardship too frequent, are on our behalf in the shell-scarred, dusty, noisome trenches of many foreign lands.

I would not exhort, as Vicar, for just now we are all very ready to stir each other up to action, but I would rather beg of you as a fellow worshipper, that we should try not to grow weary or fainthearted in our prayers for those we love, whether at home or in Church. St Luke’s Church is open always from 8 am to 6 pm, later on Fridays and Sundays; St Peter’s is open, too. Those who cannot find a quiet corner at home, can find one there. Working clothes do not matter; God wants our hearts, not fine clothes.

There is, too, the War Shrine to provide a centre for our prayers. And many could come to the weekly Friday Intercession Service. We have to remember that life is not the only boon we can ask for those we love but that honour, purity, and straightforwardness are even greater things. I think we are all doing this pretty well; but I suppose we could none of us honestly say we could not do a great deal better…

Now may I say one ward as regards Treats, etc. The War certainly imposes on us the need for great economy. All expenses should, so far as possible, be cut down. But the War has already lasted nearly three years, and owing to the Republican disorder in Russia, the hope of an early Peace has faded away; though the entry of the United States into the War has made more certain than ever before a full and final victory. We must all hope for a speedy settlement in the land of our great Russian Ally; personally, my hopes lie in the Constituent Assembly choosing a Constitutional Monarchy.

So, many children are fast growing up without much memory of the peaceful days before the War. For them there should be, I think, very simple and economic Treats. I hope those who agree with me will support our Sunday School Fund during this month. I feel that the Mothers are another class who should have some little outing, as cheap as possible, of course, still a little change from the daily work and anxiety…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Flowers for the war shrines

Clewer people were placings flowers at the roadside memorials which had sprung up in the parish during the war.

St Agnes’, Clewer

Several people have asked whether they may take flowers for the War Shrines. Most certainly they may do so, and it is much hoped that they will, and specially those whose relatives have their names on these Rolls of Honour. The flowers should be taken to Mr. Pert or Mrs. Cornish, who have kindly taken charge of the Shrines, and who will be very glad to put any flowers in the boxes provided for them.

Clewer parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

Help to hasten the arrival of a victorious peace!

Maidenhead people were asked to support the troops in prayer and with their savings.

Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,

… Our new War Shrine (temporary) is now erected in the Church. I hope many who pass by will enter to say a prayer from time to time in that quiet corner, for those in danger for our sakes, or to honour the memory of our gallant dead. If anyone would like to give a desk or rail to kneel against, they should communicate with Mr. Hazeldine, 5, College Rise, the hon. sec. of the C.E.M.S., the Society to whose generosity the Shrine is mainly due, or with myself as Vicar…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY


St Luke’s War Saving Association

Miss Garratt, hon. sec., attends at the National School, East Street, from 7 to 8 p.m. every Monday, to receive deposits of 6d. and upwards to buy War Saving Certificates. Come in numbers, and help to hasten the arrival of a victorious peace!

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Pray for God’s blessing on our cause and gallant men

Children and adults in Maidenhead were urged to pop in to the church in spare moments to pray for the troops.

War Shrine

On Whit-Sunday, May 27th, the beautiful little War Shrine presented and fixed by the St. Luke’s Branch of the C.E.M.S and one or two friends, was dedicated and unveiled by the Vicar at the Children’s Service…

It is hoped that many who pass by the Church will slip in, if but for two minutes and pray for God’s blessing on our cause and gallant men. The names of the Fallen are well and clearly written up by Mr. Habbin.

Any additions or corrections should be sent either to the Hon. Sec., Mr. E. Hazeldine, 5, College Rise, or to Mr. Habbin, 2 Fairford Road.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Serbians now living in our midst

Reading people offered prayers for the Russian Revolution and for Serbian refugees who had come to Reading.

The Vicar’s Notes
Intercessions

For Russia in her time of crisis.
For Serbia and the Serbians now living in our midst in Reading.
For all the operations of the allies this spring.
For all those lately confirmed.
For the Dedication Festival at S. Saviour’s that the War-shrine may be a real spiritual help to the Parish.

Thanksgiving

For Successes granted to our arms in Mesopotamia and France.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, April 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

What we hope to do to welcome our returned soldiers on the conclusion of peace

The men’s group at St Luke’s, Maidenhead, was keen to welcome home our soldiers when the war came to an end.

The Church of England Men’s Society

An interesting Meeting of the C.E.M.S. was held on April 16th. The details of the War Shrine were gone into.

Dr Underhill gave us an interesting account of what a Committee, of which he is a member, hope to do to welcome our returned soldiers on the conclusion of peace. It was resolved to hold a meeting at an early date to go into the matter…

I may add that if any Parishioners, other than members of the C.E.M.S., wish to contribute to the War Shrine, they should communicate with Mr. Hazeldine, Hon. Sec., 5, College Rise. The C.E.M.S. does not want to be at all selfish in the matter, and would gladly welcome any gift from outside its own body.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Who are willing to offer themselves?

Clergy were expected to answer the call of the new National Service Scheme as well as laymen.

National Service.

We all know that the Country is calling upon able-bodied persons both men and women from the age of 18 to 61, to volunteer for National Service. It is a call addressed to the Clergy as well as the Laity. Our Bishop is making enquiries of the Clergy in his Diocese to ascertain who are willing to offer themselves, either for spiritual or secular work. The decision rests with him as to which and how many of the Clergy, who volunteer, can be spared from the Diocese. If any member of our staff of Clergy is thus withdrawn from Parish work, we must be prepared to reduce some of the Services and make the best use of our diminished opportunities. Perhaps, as things are, we have too many Services in the various Districts, and a little concentration would not be a bad thing for us. It is sometimes found to be the case that those who have fewer facilities for Public Worship make a better use of them than those who have too many. If the Bishop therefore counsels a temporary reduction in the staff of Clergy in this Parish, we must readily submit to it.

The War Shrines.

All the money needed for the War Shrines in Clewer Village and Clewer New Town has now been subscribed. Any money subsequently sent will be given to the permanent Memorial which we hope to have erected in the Church when the War is over.

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

“Are we down-hearted”?

A PoW writes home after two years in the hands of the enemy.

Prisoners of War.

We think it would interest our readers to see extracts from letters from one of our Prisoners of War, Private W. Simmonds, of Dedworth. Every month we send in from Clewer a small collection for the Prisoners of War Fund. This month 16/- was sent. The Boys of St. Augustine’s Home contribute largely towards it. Mrs. Buttress and Mrs. Cowie very gladly receive contributions, however small, as they all mount up. They are sent in the beginning of each month, and after reading the letter you will see how very grateful the recipients are. The parcels used to be packed weekly at the Town Hall, Windsor, but now they are sent straight from the London Depot, 4, Thurloe Place, London, S.W.

Letter from Private Simmonds, Kriegsgefangenenlager, Prisoner of War, Langensalza, Germany, Jan., 1917.

Dear Mrs. Cowie,

So pleased to have the pleasure of writing to you, to let you know that I am still in splendid health, thanks to the parcels you send me weekly, for these I think go a long way to keep our spirits up in this very trying time, but I suppose we shall have to stick to our well-known motto – “Are we down-hearted”? At present there is still the same answer amongst us, that is, “No.” But we shall be pleased when it is all finished and we can return to those who are dear to us again.

Madam, I should be very pleased if you can give any instructions as to the acknowledging of the parcels, as no name of the donor is received from the Central Prisoners of War Committee, London. It was a splendid parcel, and of course I should like for yourself to continue packing the parcel, but there we are in war time, and orders are orders, so we must abide by them for the present, but not much longer, I hope.

You say in your letter, Madam, that we must have patience, but I am afraid mine won’t last out; being here two years has tried my patience to its utmost, but still with the help of those fine parcels I have managed to pull through with flying colours. I shall certainly have to visit that War Shrine in Dedworth when I return.

And now will you kindly convey best wishes and thanks to His Worship the Mayor of Windsor, yourself, and all helpers of the Committee and all in the dear old Royal Borough and vicinity for their-never-to-be-forgotten kindness towards myself and all other unfortunate comrades of the Borough. I am sure, Madam, if you and the Mayor heard how good we all speak of you, you would be prouder than the V.C. winner. Again thanking you and all members of the Committee for their kindness,

I remain yours thankfully,

W. SIMMONDS (Private).

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

Our enemies are hard pressed and there are definite prospects of peace

Churchgoers in Clewer looked forwards to prospects of peace.

There is another War-Shrine of precisely similar pattern (each is surmounted by a crucifix) to be erected in Clewer New Town in a spot to be chosen by the inhabitants of that District. The Shrines are beautifully made and are much appreciated.

The New Year.

We enter upon the New Year with brighter hopes and more definite prospects of Peace, than in the year that is just closed. The new Government, with Mr. Lloyd-George as Prime Minister, has already proclaimed its determination to be satisfied with no Peace but that which will secure adequate reparation for the past, and adequate security for the future, and this has been emphatically endorsed by all our Allies.

On the other hand our enemies are evidently hard pressed and have shown that Peace is becoming an urgent matter for them, and that they have nothing to hope from a further continuance of the War. Let us redouble our Prayers and readily submit to whatever sacrifices we may be called upon to make in order to bring the War to a successful conclusion. Let us labour for Peace by the earnestness of our Prayers, and the application of self-discipline to our home-life. Then we may be sure that God’s Blessing will rest upon our efforts, and will fulfil our heart’s desire for a ‘Happy New Year.’

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)