St Werburgh's in the Great War
2014 marked the centenary of the outbreak of The First World War.
As part of centenary Commemorative activities in 2014, a group of St Werburgh's parishioners started to research each name on the WW1 Memorial Board.
- Our primary aim was to find information concerning all persons listed on the present memorial, so that it could be presented on fact sheets placed near the memorial and in a book to be published later.
- Another aim was to publish an essay collection about life in the parish during the Great War.
- A third aim was to present a display of the information which we have received.
- Lastly we hoped to replace the present incomplete memorial with one which is more permanent and includes more information.
We found the work very rewarding. So far, biographical information about the lives, as well as the deaths of over 100 parishioners who lost their lives in the Great War, has been collected. This information was included in a book We Shall Remember Them which was published at the end of 2015.
In November 2014 and 2015 we presented displays of some of the material which we had discovered. It was also displayed at Chester History and Heritage (St Michael's Church, Bridge Street, Chester CH1 1NW).
We intend to produce further November displays and any information or photographs of Fallen Men would be welcome - please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have information or photographs concerning men who did not die in the conflict, or parish life generally during the Great War, please contact email@example.com
In December 2017 our second book was published. A War-Torn Chester Parish is a collection of almost forty essays and articles on many different aspects of our life as a parish 100 years ago. £10 softback £20 hardback available from the Parish Office.
On 6th November 2018 the Right Reverend Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, blessed and dedicated three new items for the War Memorial Chapel. The first was a new plaque displaying all 120 names which had been researched and found to be genuinely associated with St Werburgh's parish. The second was a hand-produced leatherbound book, giving a short biography of each man named. The third was a lectern, made from the old wood of former church fitments, on which to display this book. All these items have been made by local artisans and are fine examples of their work.
The service was attended by dignitaries such as Mrs Susan Sellers, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire; Mrs Alexis Redmond, High Sheriff of Cheshire; the Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Alex Black; and Mr Chris Matheson, MP for the City of Chester. They were joined by a representative from the Irish embassy, Ms Fionnuala Callanan, and Lieutenant Colonel Tony Evans, representing the Australian High Commission. Representatives of the British Army (Colonel Sean Cunniff), the Royal Navy (Lieutenant Commander Steve Randles) and the Royal Air Force (Wing Commander Stephen Chaskin) were joined by others representing local institutions and organisations. All were touched by the service given to their country by men who had attended this church over 100 years ago, and the tribute which was being paid to them by present parishioners. Although a solemn occasion, the service was also a very happy event, ably conducted by the Bishop and Father Paul Shaw. Anyone who wishes to examine the new artefacts can find them in place in the War Memorial Chapel, during times when the church is normally open.
We would like to thank Fr Paul Shaw and all the parishioners who have supported us so far on our journey of discovery. We would also like to thank the many complete strangers who have nevertheless been generous with their time and service, to help us in our work.