Lemsford church holds ceremony to mark 100th anniversary of war memorial

PUBLISHED: 13:05 03 August 2019

Lemsford Local History Group held an open day at St John's Church to commemorate the war memorial's 100th anniversary. Picture: Lemsford Local History Group

Lemsford Local History Group held an open day at St John's Church to commemorate the war memorial's 100th anniversary. Picture: Lemsford Local History Group

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A Lemsford local history group hosted a church open day to mark 100 years since the village's First World War memorial was unveiled.

Lemsford Local History Group held an open day at St John's Church to commemorate the war memorial's 100th anniversary. Picture: Lemsford Local History GroupLemsford Local History Group held an open day at St John's Church to commemorate the war memorial's 100th anniversary. Picture: Lemsford Local History Group

The war memorial at St John's Church in Lemsford was first unveiled on July 20, 1919, and Lemsford Local History Group organised the open day at the 160-year-old church to commemorate the occasion.

At the event, 20 display boards showed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate for each man who had died in battle, as well as a brief description of their lives.

The ceremony started at 1pm with a welcome and introduction by the Rev Paul Seymour, who introduced the speaker John Turner.

John provided an insight into World War I, with reports from each year containing world news and explaining how it affected the Home 
Front.

Lemsford Local History Group held an open day at St John's Church to commemorate the war memorial's 100th anniversary. Picture: Lemsford Local History GroupLemsford Local History Group held an open day at St John's Church to commemorate the war memorial's 100th anniversary. Picture: Lemsford Local History Group

The readings showed the progression from early optimism to increasing sorrow at the huge loss of life.

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There were also extracts from letters written by soldiers to their families, and a choir sang two classic wartime songs.

Rev Seymour also held a minute's silence, and Ian Douglas read out three poems which summed up the occasion and the loss the parish experienced.

Lemsford Local History Group held an open day at St John's Church to commemorate the war memorial's 100th anniversary. Picture: Lemsford Local History GroupLemsford Local History Group held an open day at St John's Church to commemorate the war memorial's 100th anniversary. Picture: Lemsford Local History Group

Tea and refreshments were laid out for visitors, and all the money raised went to the veteran's charity Help For Heroes.

A book, entitled 'Lest We Forget', has also been written to accompany the day. Ramblers Walking Holidays, based in Lemsford Mills, purchased eight copies of the book to present to four local schools, WGC library, the University of Hertfordshire and the church itself.

Lemsford Local History Group chairman Andy Chapman presented the book to the church during the ceremony, and it will be displayed in the church annex.

The audience then moved outside to the churchyard, and 20 representatives of the dead men, including young people, stood behind each of the display boards with a posy made from wildflowers and flowers from local gardens decorated with grasses and corns.

Lemsford Local History Group held an open day at St John's Church to commemorate the war memorial's 100th anniversary. Picture: Lemsford Local History GroupLemsford Local History Group held an open day at St John's Church to commemorate the war memorial's 100th anniversary. Picture: Lemsford Local History Group

The ceremony ended with Ian Douglas reading the poem 'The Soldier'.

Mr Chapman said: "The sight of 20 people standing in silence was a powerful reminder of the loss the parish suffered and was very moving."

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