St. Stephen’s Church War Memorial

St. Stephen's Church, Bexhill (2)On Wednesday 19th February 1919, officials and members of the congregation of St. Stephen’s Church met in the Church Mission Room to discuss the question of raising some form of war memorial to commemorate those who had given their lives in the Great War. The Vicar, the Rev. E. H. Leale, presided at the meeting with Mrs. Leale, Mr A. Saxby Hurst and Mr. C. A. Pead (the Churchwardens), and the “Misses” Walker, with others.

Rev. Leale stated that at the last meeting of the Parochial Church Council it was unanimously agreed that a reredos in the Church would be the best form of commemoration. Mr Hurst suggested a painted window for the memorial instead, saying that it “would greatly beautify the church, although it would be more expensive than the reredos”. However, despite other suggestions, the reredos was again agreed and settled on. A Memorial Committee was then formed consisting of the Vicar and Churchwardens, Alderman J. A. Paton, J.P., and Miss Emily Walker, with the power to add other members if needed.

016The reredos was to be carved into light oak and mounted behind the main altar and positioned above, but separated from, the commemorative section. The commemorative section was a “tablet”, which would carry the names of the fallen, again in light oak, and which had a mantelshelf at the top. The tablet had two large carved sunken arches and had these words carved into it:

“To the Glory of God and in memory of those of this Church and Parish who died in the service of our Country”, with the dates “1914” and “1918” on either side.

At the top of the left sunken arch were the words, “make them to be numbered” and underneath were the names; Albert P V Barker, Frederick E. Barker, Cecil A. Blackford, Stanley M Bourne, Arthur W A Bradshaw, Frank L Bristow, Frederick W Cannon, Stanley F F Dodson, Frank B Durrant, Albert E Filmer, Robert Gayler, Harry Dunk, W Brady Nicholson and Percy J Murrell. At the top of the right arch were the words “with Thy Saints” with the names; Frederick G Hollobone, George W Hope, George Isted, Grace King, James W E Morley, William C Morley, Leonard P Stevenson, Gilbert C Taylor, Bertie Truluck, Laurence W Tuttiet, Harry Durril Wrinch, Alexander J Whork and Harry W White. The design was approved and ordered.017

On the evening of the 29th September 1920 a War Memorial service was held in St Stephen’s Church where the reredos was dedicated, with the prayers being said by the Rev. Leale. Then a procession to the West end of the nave took place, where Miss Walker unveiled the oak memorial tablet bearing the names of the fallen. The dedicatory prayers were said by the Rev. L. R. Tuttiett.

The Mayor, in the course of a short address, said that it was a kindly thought which prompted the Vicar to ask the municipal authorities to join with them as many of them had lost loved ones. He said,

“In showing how all the people’s sympathy was with them, all the people in Bexhill would highly appreciate the effort they had made in erecting a memorial of so beautiful a nature”.

The “Last Post” was then sounded by Sergeant-Major Clark.

Many years later, at the bottom of the tablet, the words “also to those who fell in the 1939-1945 World War” were added.

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