EADT Suffolk - - UPFRONT -

Mel­ton Old Church opens its doors on Sun­day, Au­gust 5 as part of an on­go­ing com­mu­nity project, First World War: Then and Now, cel­e­brat­ing the peo­ple of the par­ish dur­ing the First World War.

Mel­ton WWI Her­itage group, sup­ported by Her­itage Lot­tery Fund­ing, has been re­search­ing the his­tory ‘be­hind the names’ of Mel­ton’s First World War me­mo­rial, and ex­plor­ing the so­cial and com­mu­nity as­pects of the pe­riod – what was hap­pen­ing at home, and the role of women dur­ing a very trau­matic time. The group has also been work­ing on a book, which it hopes will be printed in sum­mer 2019, to cel­e­brate the cen­te­nary of the sol­diers re­turn­ing home.

As part of the project Mel­ton Old Church Trust has also just fin­ished re­hang­ing its unique col­lec­tion of 10 First World War grave mark­ers, and restor­ing the part of the church where the wooden crosses hang. They are now dis­played with in­for­ma­tion about the nine Mel­ton who died.

On Sun­day Au­gust 5, Mel­ton res­i­dents and vis­i­tors can see the work that’s been done, and walk a trail that has been de­vel­oped around Mel­ton called The Poppy Walk. It starts at the War Me­mo­rial out­side St An­drew’s par­ish church, Mel­ton, and takes in the sur­round­ing coun­try­side as far as Mel­ton Old Church. There, four artists – Mar­garet Wyl­lie, Juliet Lock­hart, Bar­bara Clarke and Jen­nifer Hall – writer Julie Gar­ton and ac­tress Ann Bryson will be re­spond­ing to the grave mark­ers and the sto­ries ‘be­hind the names’ with art in­stal­la­tions, a read­ing of an orig­i­nal piece of text and a per­for­mance of the folk song Wil­lie McBride. Tea and home­made cake will be avail­able at the church through­out the af­ter­noon.

Mel­ton Old Church’s grave mark­ers (shown here be­fore re­hang­ing) form one of the largest col­lec­tions in the coun­try. Na­tion­ally im­por­tant, the col­lec­tion has been doc­u­mented by The Im­pe­rial War Mu­seum. The crosses were orig­i­nally used to mark the last rest­ing places of sol­diers who had fallen on the bat­tle­fields of the First World War, or who were buried close to bat­tle­fields. When the war ended many buri­als in small ceme­ter­ies or in­di­vid­ual graves were moved to newly es­tab­lished war ceme­ter­ies, and the grave mark­ers brought back to the UK. Most have de­cayed over the years, but the Mel­ton col­lec­tion has re­mained in­tact. The men com­mem­o­rated are Percy Chan­dler, Charles Lloyd, A Noel Gar­rod, Basil Ra­here Gar­rod, Thomas Martin Gar­rod (all broth­ers), A Ce­cil Sk­ould­ing, Peter Un­gerer, Thomas Wil­liam Woo­ley DCM, and Wil­liam Thomas Wool­nough. Basil Ra­here Gar­rod, has two memo­ri­als, one a pro­pel­ler from a WW1 air­craft.

There will be an­other ex­hi­bi­tion over Ar­mistice week­end in Novem­ber. meltonold­

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