GMS News 99 February 2017



A Wartime Message


The photograph is of the interior of St. Martin’s Church  and bears the message “Sunday July 26th 1942. Last spoke to Mrs Gibbs ‘Never say goodbye just God Bless you & keep you safely”  




A glimpse into a village preparing for war

I found this article in the Parish Magazine for October 1938. It was written by Rev. C. J. E Peshall, who was the rector of St. Martins at the time. I was struck by the juxtaposition of idyllic country scenes and looming clouds of war.

My dear Friends,

You may remember that in the last issue of this magazine I said that I had been lent a "Scrap Book " which contained interesting information about our Church Bells. As you know we have a peal of six bells in our Church and that they are rung before morning and evening services on Sundays. The ringing of Church bells has always been a marked feature of the English countryside, and has made a deep impression on all who have heard them pealing over the fields on perhaps a fine summer’s day. I can still remember as a boy with what pleasure we used to approach a Church a mile away across the fields with the sound of the bells growing louder and louder as we came nearer. The field path led mostly alongside a considerable stream, sometimes running swiftly, at others, losing itself in deep pools where we knew many a trout lay lurking. There were large oak trees in all the hedges, a coppice a few hundred yards away and as we approached the Church with its bells calling far rand wide an old weather-beaten castle suggestive of secret passages, religious persecution and memories of the Civil War came into view. This is the picture conjured up in my mind of church bells. I expect we all have some form of associations of memory with the pealing of bells.

This is off the track. Let us return to the fair way. Sir A. N. Wollaston, father of the present Sir Gerald `Wollaston, Garter King of Arms, took the greatest trouble in raising large sums for our Church, and himself gave most generously. Between 1910 and 1913 £885 :14 :5 was collected to repair the Tower and Bells. Before repair work was undertaken there were five bells in the peal as follows :

Tenor, weighing 8cwts, 0qrs. 2lbs., A fiat,  Mears in 1862.

5th, weighing 6-2-2, B flat, Mears in 1876.

4th, weighing 5-2-13 C, Mears in 1787.

3rd, weighing 4-3-12, D fiat, Mears in 1876.

2nd, weighing 4 – 1 0, E flat, Mears in 1787. ·

Sir A. N. Wollaston gave a sixth at this time, a treble weighing 3cwt. 3qrs, 9lbs., F, Mears in 1913.

The inscription on the new treble is:  C. M. WOLLASTON,

IN MEMORIAM.       A.N.W.         G.W.W. 1913

The Dedication of the new bell took place on October 2nd, 1913, when the Lord Bishop. of Croydon officiated, and the peal of bells was rung by six brothers, sons of the ex-Sexton of the Church, Mr. Newing. This short account will interest those who have rung and still are voluntarily ringing our peal of bells so regularly and faithfully.

Since I wrote this in the early middle part of September, our whole thoughts have been centred in the crisis of the international situation, and our prayers have been continually offered that wisdom and sanity may be given to those in whose hands lie the decision of peace or war. In our universal anxieties you may well expect some considered words from me. If the clouds of war roll away we shall renew the current of an orderly usual life. I wonder if there will have been given to that current an added dignity and seriousness for mercies so freely given. I hope that where there was only the froth of a quickly moving stream some deep pools may have been formed, because we have scoured out the silt and made room for the abiding and deep things of the spirit.

If on the other hand the folly and insanity brings war to us, we have the cleanest of consciences. We know that our Prime Minister has made every possible effort in conjunction with the French to bring about a peaceful solution of the problem. We know that the Czechs were persuaded to hand over the Sudeten Germans to Germany. We know that the French and ourselves guaranteed the carrying out of the secession in fairness to all parties.   When all sides had agreed to these conditions Pharoah hardened his heart and sent further demands which meant the complete overthrow of Czecho-Slovakia as an independent state. Naturally these demands were rejected. `The result may be war. The issue will probably be known by the time you have this before you. We start knowing that by entering the war we are taking the highest possible moral line. We have nothing to gain and so much to lose. We are putting everything we hold dear to the hazard of war because we stand out for the great principles of fair dealing, and the protection of the weak, refusing to let it be thought unbridled that unscrupulous force, coupled with lust for power, is to be the ruling motive of the world. Our consciences are clear before God, the world, and ourselves, that we have sought peace. We know without any doubt that only for the highest principles of truth and morality shall we have taken the fearful step of entering into a state of war. If the worst does happen we can only commend ourselves daily and continually into the hands of God, praying that all things may in the end further the establishment of His Kingdom in the world. With this faith in us we can take courage; we can enter the service of our country in any and every capacity.

Last Month’s Meeting

Collecting_subsJohn_Swales_and_shove_apennyThe business of the meeting was concluded in quick time so that we could get on with playing games. We played skittles, dominoes (fives and threes rules), shove ‘apenny, cards, pick-up-sticks and poker dice. In between times we enjoyed a glass of wine and snacked on the array of tasty food brought in by members. It was an excellent means for our members to relax and socialise.

The photo left shows subs being collected for the new year.



February Meeting

What is the Timeball Tower? Where is it? Why is it there? When was it built? How was it used?

At our next meeting, at 7.30 on 16th February, Jim Rees will try to provide some answers to these questions and many more, (including who lived there?) with the aid of a slide presentation. 

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