From shards to a shin­ing light

Euroa Gazette - - NEWS -

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.

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