The War Memorial Chapel
A Stockcross Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Fund was set up in 1918 and stood at £221.2s 2d at the end of 1919.
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A decision had to be made. How would this money be used?
At a vestry meeting held on 22nd December 1919 it was agreed to support the motion by the vicar, Reverend C. F. Trower that:
“the Parish of Stockcross apply for a faculty to erect a
memorial chapel to the memory of the sailors, soldiers
and airmen of the Parish who have died in the late war”
The architect Mr J.N.Comper, who had been responsible for earlier improvements to St John’s, was instructed to design the new chapel.
Sir John Ninian Comper oil on canvas by Beatrice Bright 1930s National Portrait Gallery primary collection ref NPG 4808Given by sitter’s son J Sebastian Comper in 1970.
On 6th June 1921 the Diocese of Oxford agreed to the request subject to the cost being met by private donations.
The main building contractor employed was Nathaniel Hitch of Vauxhall, London. His bill shows the cost of the individual architectural features within the chapel.
The stained glass window, designed by Comper cost £600. The Newbury Weekly News described it thus:
“ The conception of the window is quite original, for in addition to sacred figures there are studies of Roman soldiers of ancient times contrasting vividly with a soldier in khaki and a sailor in blue.
In the centre is the figure of the crucifixion, the background being made up of flags of the Allies. It is quite a youthful figure on the cross, typifying the young life sacrificed in the Great War.
Above the figure on the cross is the emblem of the Holy Spirit, a dove. Under the cross are the three Marys, St John the Evangelist and the Centurion. In the niches at the top of the window are the crests of the Royal Berkshire Regiment and of the Life Guards, and the arms of the Oxford diocese.”
The Shields & Tester
Mr Henry Cecil Sutton, who took up residence at Benham after the war, commissioned the addition of the eight regimental badges to enhance the Memorial Chapel.
Henry Cecil Sutton by Lafayette (Lafayette Ltd). Whole plate film negative 11 April 1927 NPG x49215 © National Portrait Gallery, London
It was his support that ensured the quality of the workmanship. Comper wanted to have the shields hand carved and then painted which was expensive.
Letters between Comper and The Rev Campbell Douglas (vicar 1931-38) show the discussions in progress.
H A B Bernard-Smith of London was employed to paint the shields attached to the wooden escutcheons. He had previously painted the glorious tester above the stone altar.
The shields represent some of the Regiments and ships in which the men from Stockcross served.
Captain T E Wardle RN , who was captain of HMS Alcantara when it was sunk in a naval battle with SMS Grieff in 1916,writes in a letter to the vicar dated 7th December 1932:
“You are quite in order to put HMS Alcantara on the scroll. I shall be proud it will be there. I gather you specially want to commemorate the Alcantara man. I am more pleased because for some reason, though we lost 69 officers and men there is no mention of the fight on any public memorial”
|1st Lige Guards||Canadian 54th Kootenay Regiment||HMS Alcantara||Kings Own Scottish Borderers|
|Royal Army Service Corps||The Royal Berkshire Regiment||The Cheshire Regiment||Machine Gun Corps|