St Mary's Church memorial

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St Mary's Parish Church
Luton
United Kingdom

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[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: May 17th, 1919]

Last evening some of the parishioners of St Mary's, Luton, gathered in St Mary's Hall to hear from the Vicar of Luton (Rev A. E. Chapman) some details of a memorial which it is suggested should be placed on the north wall of the church in memory of members of the church and congregation who fell during the war.

There was also to have an informal discussion on the scope of such a memorial, and an alternative suggestion that the names of all who have served should be perpetuated. There was only a small gathering, which was about evenly divided on the question of having a complete roll of those who have served, so that will be further considered later.

It was decided to proceed with the arrangements for a tablet to the memory of the fallen, and the interesting announcement was made that Mr James Merchant (one of the Churchwardens) and Mrs Merchant were making a gift of an altar cross in memory of a son who fell in the war.

The Vicar first referred to the 'Book of Life' which was being prepared by Mr S. Green (Churchwarden). He stated that this would contain the names of all Lutonians who fell during the war. This would be beautifully illuminated and, as it would have to last indefinitely, it would have to be kept carefully and only be available for inspection under supervision.

There ought to be some record of the sacrifices of the whole town in that historic church, said the Vicar, and he hoped every assistance would be given to Mr Green in the collection of a complete list of names and details.

The proposed memorial to the fallen members of the congregation, continued the Vicar, was a tablet to be placed on the vacant space between two windows in the north wall. Mr Romaine Walker, the distinguished architect who restores the Someries Chapel for Lady Wernher, had been asked to advise and had sent down a wax model of the tablet he suggested. This would be about six feet by eight feet, and would consist of a border of selected Chillaston alabaster and a panel of palest dove marble, which was a beautiful silvery grey.

“We have to be very careful in introducing anything into the Parish Church,” said the Vicar, “as the prevailing tone is silvery grey, and a brilliant lacquered brass would be a serious disfigurement on the beautiful white Totternhoe stone.”

The model, which was passed round for inspection, is almost severely plain in design. At the top there is a small panel held aloft by two angels, and it was Mr Walker's suggestion that this should be inscribed, “To the glory of God and in honour of the brave”.

In inviting suggestions, the Vicar said he specially wanted to hear whether it was considered the memorial should be only to those who had fallen, or to all who had served, or whether there should be a second memorial perpetuating the service of those who had come safely through. He added that Mr Walker was strongly in favour of recording all the names, and this was also his own opinion.

There had been a suggestion that the floral cross used on the Holy Table should be replaced by a really beautiful floral cross, said the Vicar. The Cross was the Christian symbol of sacrifice, and he was able to announce that Mr and Mrs Merchant wished to present an Altar Cross to the Church in memory of their son George.

The discussion which followed was wholly in favour of having a memorial for the fallen, but there was not such a unanimity as to the desirability of having a complete church roll of honour. Even those who thought this should be provided agreed that the names should be inscribed separately from those who had fallen.

Accordingly, the Vicar and his advisers will proceed with the arrangements for a memorial tablet to be executed by Mr Romaine Walker and placed on the north wall, to perpetuate the names of the fallen.

The provision of a second memorial in the form of a roll of honour of all the members of the church and congregation will come up again later, and may be brought before the Church Council.

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Author: Deejaya

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