Oldfield Park Junior School (Bath) WW1 Memorial Project
Walcot Methodist Church (Bath)
The Walcot Methodist (now Nexus Methodist) Church is on London Street in Walcot. The memorial plaque is mounted on the wall in the body of the church to the right of the platform. The church can be accessed around scheduled service times (with the usual respect for people preparing for service etc.) or other events and the church website is the best resource for knowing when these take place.
According to the newspaper report of the time, the memorial was originally affixed to the pulpit; it was also mounted within a wooden framework (pictured below), but this has not survived.
From Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette, Saturday 3rd September 1921:
A SERMON IN BRASS.
WALCOT WESLEYANS' WAR MEMORIAL.
DEDICATED BY THE REV. A. G. TUCK.
Henceforward the pulpit at the Walcot Church will never be without its sermon; for it bears the record of sacrifice. To it has been affixed the brass tablet which commemorates the death of eight of the church members who perished in the Great War. While this record remains in its place, the pulpit will never cease to preach its silent sermon of the meaning of sacrifice, even when no voice of living preacher echoes within the church's walls.
The memorial was unveiled and dedicated by the Rev. A. G. Tuck, who, having completed three years as minister of that church, has now been transferred to Poole. This ceremony was performed on Monday evening at a special service. Appropriate hymns, including that great favourite, 'For all the Saints' were sung, and Mr. Tuck read three selected passages of scripture. The choir were present, and Sir. Leonard Wright was at the organ.
Prior to unveiling the tablet, Mr. Tuck remarked that the occasion represented "a very hallowed hour" for all who were associated in that service. He was glad that they were holding that service, and glad also that the suggestion of Mr. W. W Bell was so readily taken up by the leadens of the church, the trustees, and the congregation generally. He was in addition glad to know that there was to some simple permanent memorial of the men of that church who fell in the great world-war.
THE DEDICATION.After a brief pause for silent prayer, Mr. Tuck drew aside the Union Jack which had veiled the memorial tablet, and read the inscription to the congregation. He remarked that three of those whom they commemorated had been intimately associated with the musical services of their church. Mr. Blake had often assisted them by his singing, as their tenor soloist, and Mr. Membery and Mr. Morgan were both organists there. Mr. Tuck then pronounced the dedicatory prayer.
As the text of his address, Mr. Tuck chose 2 Peter, chapter 3, verse 13, "A new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." He remarked that his congregation might regard that text as a strange one for a service of such memories; but he believed that it expressed the great ideal for which those men whom they commemorated by that tablet gave their lives. He resolutely refused to accept any less interpretation of their sacrifice and their service than that. These men did not love fighting—they loathed it. They died, believing that their deaths might mean the birth of a new life for the world. He thought that those men would only value the act of commemoration which they were performing that evening, so far as it constituted the pledge of the survivors to continue the quest of those ideals for which they died. The debt which we owed to these men was twofold. By their untimely deaths, we had been bereft of their gifts of character — their leadership, their strength, their chivalry — which would have helped us to solve our present problems. Further, we had to recall that we had been spared the horrors which they had endured. Thus a double burden was laid upon us. We should endeavour to secure the realisation of that world their ideals.
He had recently had the opportunity of spending some time in one of the great cathedrals of the West-country; and he had been impressed by the new spirit which was indicated in the fact that the latest war memorial which was erected there bore the names of all the men commemorated — from the commanding officer to the youngest 'Tommy'. This practice was not observed on the older war memorials. The new idea showed that were learning to value the man, and not the rank. We too might take this lesson to heart, and strive in the future to take more thought for individual lives.
"BIBLE OF POISON GAS."Having appealed for the support of the League of Nations, Mr. Tuck told his congregation how he had encountered on Salisbury Plain a little band of chemists and scientists who had explained that they were at work on a new poison gas and that there were many formulas which had to be worked out. These would recorded in a book which would for some years 'The Bible of Poison Gas'. He perfectly understood the spirit in which this expression was used, but he felt moved to urge his congregation to use all their efforts and influence to ensure that there should indeed no 'next war'. In contemplation of that memorial, they were indeed called upon to dedicate themselves to the task of bringing into being that new earth wherein dwelt righteousness. In a Kentish church, the vibration of the anti-aircraft guns during the war had cracked the plaster covering of a font, disclosing beneath an older leaden font, bearing on it the figure of a king. Might we not find an inner significance in this incident and feel that the war had stripped us of our unselfishness [sic], leaving visible the image of the King of Kings?
The wording of the tablet is:
To the Glory of God,
and in honoured memory of those
associated with this Church, who
gave their lives in the Great War