From shards to a shining light
FINALLY, after lying hidden away for several decades, the John Charlton Memorial Window has been brought back into the light.
From being covered in dust and grime, broken and cracked in places and missing a vital dedicatory inscription, the memorial window has been restored to its former beauty.
At a ceremony at Maygars Hill Winery, the central memorial pane draped in red ensign flags was unveiled by one of Charlton’s descendants, Christine O’Brien in front of more than 80 guests.
As Christine said, the window meant a lot to her family and she was grateful that after all this time the family had finally got to see John’s memorial.
The window restored by Almond Glassworks and mounted in a frame for the occasion was lit from behind as the flags were slowly lowered to reveal the beautiful art nouveau and bold abstract symbolic design of a Roman soldier.
The depiction was accompanied by the biblical inscription and dedicatory panel; all told the window was a wonderful tribute to a soldier lost in the Boer War.
The whole event was an occasion to remember.
Marching to Strauss’ Radetzky’s march, a Lance Guard Party from the Royal Australian Armoured Corps, Puckapunyal, provided a fitting tribute to one of their own, Private John Charlton of the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles.
Master of ceremonies Major John Baines welcomed guests and began to tell the story of the formation of the VMR and its close association to today’s Cavalry corps.
Cr Alistair Thompson of Strathbogie Shire was complimentary on the importance of the window to the people of the region and Steph Ryan (MLA, Euroa) talked about the impact and grief the people of Euroa experienced when they watched as their sons went off to fight in the Boer War then again to serve in the Great War – many never to return.
Dr Bronwyn Hughes then gave acknowledgement for the funding received from the Victorian Government and the Victorian Veterans Council under the Victoria Remembers program and auspiced by the Euroa RSL.
Dr Hughes outlined the conservation process undertaken to restore the window according to the Burra Charter and of the mysteries encountered during the restoration.
A re-dedication of the window was performed by Rev. Patti Matthews of St Paul’s Anglican Church who talked about attempts to rescue the window from an uncertain future.
Lynne Dore then provided an overview of the project, the countless hours spent cleaning, photographing and researching the stories behind the window and of John Charlton’s family history and reflected on aspects of the Boer War and Australia’s involvement in it.
Ms Dore discussed the lengths to which the committee had gone to in trying to find a new home for the window.
Due to the size, scale, weight and conservation needs, the options were limited.
Finally, a few minutes before commencing the launch of the window, confirmation was provided that the Shrine of Remembrance had approved a proposal to accept the window into their Boer War collection.
This was a wonderful outcome for the window said Lynne who reflected that while the window was dedicated to one man, it was capable of representing the many who gave their lives in the Boer War and that its acceptance into the Shrine collection would enable all Victorians to share that history and to be proud of those who served in the Boer War.
From shards of glass to a truly beautiful memorial, the window will now take its place as a significant piece of Boer War history and enable a new generation to engage with its stories.
The Charlton Memorial committee members are proud to have been part of this journey back into the light.
RETURNED TO GLORY: The full Charlton Memorial Window (left), which will now take its place on display at the Shrine of Remembrance.
PHOTOS: Lynne Dore
REVEALED: The window is unveiled by Charlton descendant Christine O’Brien in front of around 80 guests at Maygars Hill Winery.