Berwick – St. Michael & All Angels Church, Churchyard & War Memorial

Welcome to Berwick.  Not Berwick up north, but Berwick down south, in East Sussex.

Inside the quaint little church,…

…a splendid mural entitled ‘Christ in Glory’ covers much of the interior, designed in 1943 by artist Duncan Grant (Grant was a major figure in the Bloomsbury Group, which included Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and others).

Luckily an explanation was available (inset bottom left), but to save you the effort (and because the photo I took was so appalling), here’s what it says, verbatim, ‘The mural depicts Christ, having offered himself on the cross, now enthroned in heaven with angels worshipping him. On the right of the Chancel arch are Bishop Bell (kneeling) and behind him the Rector of Berwick, Revd G. Mitchell. On the left are the kneeling figures of a soldier (Douglas Hemming, killed at Caen in 1944), a sailor (Mr. Wheeler) and an airman (Mr. Humphry). The painting portrays a hierarchy – the servicemen look to the Bishop who is kneeling in prayer. Christ’s rule and victory over death is set over a country in the turmoil of war. Poppies can be seen in the foreground symbolising remembrance and resurrection.  Grant records the landscape and people of wartime England. He also portrays his patrons after the manner of Renaissance murals.’

Up on the hill,…

…with glorious views of the South Downs beyond, the little war memorial…

…has the names of just three Great War casualties on it.

Gunner Frank Hamper, 206th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, died on 12th February 1917 aged 26 and is buried in Dranoutre Military Cemetery, and Serjeant Herbert Stephen Smith, 8th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, died of wounds aged 27 on 17th May 1916, and is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord.  Harry Sands could be one of a number of men of that name on the CWGC database, so I shall leave him for someone else to look into.

On the reverse,…

…a single Second World War name, Serjeant Douglas George Hemming, 23rd Hussars, Royal Armoured Corps, killed in action on 27th June 1944 aged 26.  The same Douglas Hemming depicted on the mural inside the church.

Down the slope, in the south eastern corner of the graveyard,…

…there’s a single CWGC grave,…

…that of Driver Charles Edward Gates, Royal Army Service Corps, who died on 23rd February 1943, aged 39.  He is buried here, beneath a CWGC headstone,…

…but his name does not appear on the war memorial placed no more than 100 feet from his grave.

There’s another interesting feature of this church, which you might have spotted earlier.  Despite the ostentatious, perhaps, interior, most of the church windows are clear plate glass, as opposed to the leaded windows – such as the window on the right –  more often seen in English churches.  On 17th October 1944 the original Victorian leaded windows were damaged by German bombs and, bearing in mind the replacement costs, and uncertain whether there would be more bombing and potentially more damage, it was decided to install plain glass, and it’s been here ever since.

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7 Responses to Berwick – St. Michael & All Angels Church, Churchyard & War Memorial

  1. margaret draycott says:

    What a beautiful inside such treasures can be found in these churches. Even from such a small place they gave in both wars. Strange about the CWGC one but perhaps he came from somewhere else

  2. Nick Kilner says:

    What a super little church. Really unusual in many respects, not least of all having so few casualties on a memorial. Great post

    • Magicfingers says:

      Cheers Nick. It’s a lovely and interesting little place. We were down in that neck of the woods for a few days last year and you go out exploring and you find somewhere like this. Warms my agnostic heart.

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