The Fyfield Lych Gate, that was built in memory of the twenty three men of Lockeridge, Fyfield and Overton who sacrificed their lives in the Great War, can be found opposite the church of St Nicholas, Fyfield. Research on the names that are carved in the interior of the Lych Gate was published in 2014 in an Upper Kennet Benefice booklet by John Hutchings and Geoffrey Gibson-Piggott. A copy of the booklet is held in St Nicholas, Fyfield and also in the Merchant’s House archives in Marlborough. Further information on the background of the Fyfield Lych Gate memorial can be found under West Overton.
Fyfield: WWI War Memorial
The Marlborough Times, Friday 26th March 1920
Dedication of the Fyfield Lych Gate
New burial ground consecrated at Fyfield
Bishop Joscelyne on Thursday, at Fyfield, dedicated a lych gate, which has been erected at the entrance to the new burial ground in memory of men of Lockeridge, Fyfield and Overton who sacrificed their lives in the Great War. Constructed of old oak, the lych gate has a foundation of sarsen stone and has a tiled roof, from which rises a small iron cross. The imposing structure has been built to a design drawn by Mr. C.E.Ponting, late of Marlborough, and constitutes a suitable memorial to the heroes whose names are carved in the interior, with this inscription:- “In loving and grateful memory of the men of Fyfield, Lockeridge and Overton who gave their lives for their country in the Great War, 1914-19. In sacred sleep they rest. Say not of brave men that they die.” The names of the men who fell are Sergt. Henry James Bowsher, 2nd Wilts; Pte. Algernon Alfred Nicholas Bull, 2nd Wilts; Pte. Gerald George Bull, 7th Wilts; Pte. John Dobson, 2nd Wilts; Pte. Frederick Elliot, 2nd Wilts; Major Edmond Hamilton Giffard, R.F.A.; Capt. Robert Giffard, R.F.A.; Lieut. Sydney Giffard, R.F.A.; Sergt. Thomas Hilliard, R.Berks; L.-Cpl. Frederick Hilliard, 2nd Wilts; Pte. William Charles Hilliard, R.Berks; ; Pte. James Kimmer, Suffolk Regt; Pte. Walter Edward Middleton, Labour Corps; Pte. Francis John North, Wilts; Pte. Albert Payne, 1st Wilts; Pte. Albert Edward Payne, 1st Wilts; L.-Cpl. Frederick Charles Payne, 13th East Surreys; Pte. Enos George Pennells, 7th Wilts; L.-Sergt. Robert William Penney, 5th Wilts; L.-Cpl. George Raisey, Dorsets; L.-Cpl. Henry Richard Smith, 2nd Wilts; Herbert Leslie Waite, Royal Navy Reserve; Pte. Edward Albert Watts, R. Berks.
In the masonry approach to the memorial, a stone is inset in which are carved the words, “In memory of those who gave their lives for King and Country.” As a tribute alike to the memory of all the fallen heroes Mr and Mrs H.V.Crees had very effectively decorated the interior of the lych gate with choice spikes of lilium auratum, white tulips, hyacinths and sweet-scented narcissi. Conspicuous amongst the floral tributes of relatives were a laurel wreath from the Lockeridge Troop of Boy Scouts and a beautiful wreath from the Lockeridge Troop of Girl Guides. Parishioners gathered in large numbers, and it was seen many of them were still in mourning for those they had lost in the war. The Bishop and clergy met and robed in the residence of Mr and Mrs H.V.Crees. The Rev C.E.B.Hewitt, of Marlborough College, acted as his lordship’s Chaplain, and others in the procession to the war memorial were the Rev T.G.Morres (Vicar), the Rev J.W.Smyth (Vicar of East Kennett), Mr H.R.Giffard (vicar’s warden), and Mr H.V.Crees (parish warden). Lockeridge Boy Scouts, under Scoutmaster Mrs Brown, of Clatford House, formed a guard of honour at the lych gate, and the Lockeridge Troop of Girl Guides, with Miss Maud Giffard, were also in attendance.
The impressive ceremony commenced with the singing of the 23rd Psalm, and then followed the recital by the Bishop in resonant voice of parts of the sacred burial rites of the Church and other prayers. Having unveiled the memorial the Bishop said: “ In the faith of Jesus Christ we dedicate this gate to the Glory of God and in memory of the fallen who gave their lives for King and Country, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Standing beneath the structure the Bishop concluded the office of dedication, the Benediction being followed by the sounding of the Last Post and the Reveille by Patrol leader Frank Peck, and the singing of the hymn “The Saints of God: their conflict past.” and thus the service of dedication ended.
Consecration of new burial ground
The Bishop then proceeded with the consecration of the new burial ground which had been generously presented to the Vicar and churchwardens by Mr Alec Taylor. It is situated exactly opposite to the parish church and has been enclosed by the parish at a cost of about £50. His Lordship was received at the lych gate by the clergy and churchwardens, and Mr Giffard read and presented the petition for consecration to the Bishop, who signified his readiness to proceed to the consecration. Headed by the churchwardens, the Bishop, clergy and parishioners made a detour of the ground saying meanwhile Psalm xc and xxiii. After reading a short litany the Bishop pronounced the sentence of consecration in these words: “By virtue of our sacred office in the church of God we do now bless, hallow, consecrate, and forever set apart from all profane and common uses this ground to be a quiet burying place of the dead until the glorious resurrection of the last day: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”; also the following: “The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon this place and sanctify it and keep it holy, that it may be a resting place for the bodies of His people until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ, when He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” The service was concluded in the church.
In the procession to the sacred building there was a recital of Psalm cxxx. As soon as the congregation, which filled the church, had assembled, the hymn “On the resurrection morning” was sung, during which the sentence of consecration was signed by the Bishop and duly witnessed by the clergy present. It was subsequently read by the Vicar.
In a short address the Bishop said he was sure they would like him to remind them that the service in which they had just taken part was as solemn as any service before God could be. They would always remember that their lych gate in memory of the brave lives bravely given from that place was solemnly dedicated to God and the addition to this their churchyard consecrated on that special day – Lady-day – as they called it – which brought home to them the announcement of the coming birth of the Saviour. That was what the word annunciation meant. It was the message that was brought to her who was to be the Virgin mother that there should come One whose name should be called Jesus. What His coming had meant to the world, what that announcement had meant to mankind, they could never really measure. But they knew quite well that their hopes of life here and for life beyond centres in Him. They could not help thinking that day of those lives that they gave and all that they meant for our country’s cause, all that they still meant for mankind today, and they laid their tributes of a grateful heart on tombs and graves that were perhaps far away. “We remember them. May be they think of us. Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus.”
After the blessing, pronounced by the Bishop, the hymn “The sower went forth sowing” was sung, and the service concluded. Mrs Hunt was at the organ.