Eastern Daily Press 6th June 1921


Eastern Daily Press June 6 1921


The names of the sixteen men of Saxlingham Nethergate and Thorpe who yielded their lives in the Great War have been perpetuated by the erection of a memorial cross, a device somewhat unusual so far as we are aware among commemoration schemes of the Eastern Counties. It stands as the centre of the picturesquely placed little green which marks the intersection point of the village crossways. A singular thing about it is that by a large extent it has been provided by voluntary gifts of material and parochially organised labour. In the main the idea of its design has been drawn from the village of Castle Combe about 15 miles from Bath , where stands an ancient market covered cross built of stone with an oak-framed roof covered with the local stone of Wiltshire. At the suggestion of Mrs. Campbell Steward, this delightful structure was taken as the pattern on which the Saxlingham memorial should be based. The dimension and general proportions are much the same, and all the architect had to do was to translate the stone building into the terms of such materials as are of common use in this part of Norfolk. At the onset the committee found their funds inadequate to allow of the contractor’s tender being accepted. But the parishioners were not to be deterred by any such consideration. They were resolved on having a worth memorial in the style suggested and would listen to no counsels of makehsift. At this juncture the workmen of Saxlingham came to the rescue by offering to do the work themselves; the Chairman of the Parish Council was appointed as paymaster, and all sorts of people lent a hand at such services as came within the scope of their capacity. The architect, Mr. F. W. Troup F.R.I.B.A. , of Gray’s Inn Square, London made a free gift of his professional aid. Oak trees were felled specially for the beams and timbers of the roof were cut up in the village saw-pit. Old tiles were bought from a house not far off, which at that moment was being unroofed for reconstruction. The bricks were given by the owner of Saxlingham brickyard. By a curious coincidence some of them had actually been made by one of the men whose name figures in the list of the fallen. There is no one connected with the task who is not to be congratulated on the finished result of this chance development in co-operative building. The progress may have been less rapid than it might have been in other circumstances; but no one can question that the work is well and thoroughly done. The workmen of Saxlingham may well take a pride in what is a monument not only to their fallen comrades, but also to their own skill and craftmanship. The names of the fallen are displayed on a bronze plaque upon the central support of the cross; and on the stone slabs upon the outer faces of the four supporting piers are the names of the men who served in the forces and yet survive

The memorial was dedicated yesterday afternoon by the Bishop of Norwich and unveiled by Mrs. Campbell Steward. The day was typical of June and at its best Seemingly the whole population streamed out the ceremony, which it witnessed with that air of personal import always to be remarked in small places where the woes of life are intimately shared. First of all, there was a service in the fine church of St. Mary The Virgin. From the tower a flag was flying, and from the belfry floated a peal with here and there a muffled touch in it. The accommodation was crowded to the doors. The service began with the hymn “The Saints of God” and proceeded with little variation upon a form which has now become familiar to hundreds of Norfolk parishes. The rector the Rev. H. Hicks and his predecessor in office Rev. R. W. Pitt shared in the prayers; a very capable choir led the singing both in the hymns and in the 121st psalm was really congregational; Mr W. Dix, as representing Nonconformist interests in the district, read a now universally famous passage from the Book of Wisdom, and the Bishop ( on whom one of his chaplains, the Rev. W . Brown was in attendance), gave an address. Speaking of “ the faith once delivered unto the saints” the Bishop said it was a commonplace to remark that we are all prone to take for granted some of the greatest treasures that are given to us in this life. Those whom we have loved and whose loss we feel every day o f our lives we know to be still near us in Christ Jesus. The veil which divided them from us is a very narrow veil. In his own belief this veil is actually transparent from the other side and those who we miss are ever so much nearer to us than our eyes can see. The “ communion of saints” is not something far away, to be reached when we reach in our turn the eternal world, but is about us here and now. Let us believe that this fellowship of which the creed speaks is something real, serving to keep us near together, because it keeps us near to the Captain of our salvation. But let us not forget that the “communion of saints” is a communion of work as well as a communion of hearts and sentiments. I can well imagine, he added, that those whom we commemorate today, when they look down upon our present world must be amazed to find how little we have gone forward in our desire for the things of God, and that accomplishment of human righteousness and fellowship for which they have laid down their lives. But we need not lose hope. It is when our minds are chastened by grief that we are best able to judge of the things of this world, for it is grief which teaches us most what is really great and what is small.

During the singing of the hymn “ Through the night of doubt and sorrow” the congregation passed out into the sunshine once more and moved processionally to the cross, first the choir and the clergy, then the Boy Scouts, the Girl Guides, a large party of ex-service men, and finally hundreds of parishioners in general. Between the hymns “O God our help in ages past” and “ For all the Saints” there were further prayers; Mrs Campbell Steward drew away the flag concealing the record of the fallen, whose names were read out by Mr Pitt, and the Bishop pronounced the dedication. The “ Last Post” and the “ Reveille” brought to a close a ceremony well organised and singularly impressive, never more so perhaps that at the point where the village folk in mourning came one by one from a group of bereaved relatives and laid offerings of flowers at the foot of the memorial.

Subsequently Mrs Campbell Steward received at afternoon tea a hundred or more of the villagers concerned in the memorial project, including the ex-service men, the Guides, the Scouts, and others for whom tables were spread in the leafy grounds of Saxlingham Old Hall. In respect of such a singular venture of parochial co-operation as the erection of this memorial cross has been, it may be well to put on record the names of the committee: Mr. C. English (chairman) Mrs Campbell Steward ( secretary) Mr. S. Vlasto ( treasurer). Dr. H Webb-Ware, the Rev. H. Hicks, Mr. J. Emms,
Mr. J. Charlish, Mr. G. Funnel and Mr F. J. Yallop.