The Extended Memorial
Sensitive remembrance of the Great War by the Church is not without its difficulties. When such a village project, Ryburgh Remembers, was launched in Great Ryburgh it was inevitable that St Andrew’s would be involved. 1921 saw the installation of 2 separate War Memorials in the village; a traditionally obeliskine structure in Station Road, and the elaborately decorated “Think and Thank “ screen that divides the nave from St Thomas’ Chapel in the South transept of St Andrew’s. In addition names were inscribed over the proscenium arch in the village’s Memorial Hall when it was built after WW2. Far less common in memorial terms is the “illuminated” list in the church of all those (131names) “from the Parishes of Gt. and Lt. Ryburgh and Testerton who served from 1914 - “ . The closing date was never added.
An initial study of these names soon highlighted that there was no definitive list of those who had died nor was there any one place where all the names were present.
After some research it was apparent that there were at least eight further names that were not represented in the Church but had as good a “pedigree”, for want of a better word, as the others, some of which were included on the obelisk memorial. This seemed to be something that St Andrew’s could possibly rectify
In 1911 Sir John Ninian Comper was engaged to “make over” the church interior. The West Gallery was the first completed part of the project. Comper’s drawing in the R.I.B.A. Library shows exactly what we have today: a plain oak stained structure with 16 blank panels across the front, over 16 coved panels linked to the underside, and all supported on 4 octagonal posts. This austere version of a choir gallery is in stark contrast to the organ gallery of St Mary’s Wellingborough, where similar architectural devices are highly decorated and much admired by Comper’s devotees.
In the “not Comper” part of the church, the St Thomas’ screen has 8 panels, all hand painted on both sides. The chapel side has 8 East Anglian Saints and on the nave side, 8 sets of names of the fallen, grouped by Regiment. It then became obvious what to do!
The thought of trying to obtain a Faculty to hand paint the revered Comper’s blank canvas would probably cause palpitations in, if not resignations of the most redoubtable churchwarden. However by the miracle of modern digital photography, a modest p.c. picture editing facility and an enthusiastic local printer, 16 panels (vinyl on foam board) depicting the 8 East Anglian Saints together with 8 formerly missing names of the fallen grouped by Regiment, now hang in independent splendor from the once, still and future plain oak stained structure with 16 blank panels across the front. But, what a difference:
©Peter Trent March 2014