36: More Military Memorials in the Church

This article highlights 4 memorials in St Swithun’s church with military connections.

A brass plaque on the south wall towards the altar reads:

To the memory of
Lieutenant R.N.
Of Hurst On Clays (which should probably be Hurst An Clays)
In this parish
Who died of Typhoid Fever
At Bombay, April 9 1895, aged 22 years.
Tamen reddetur – (roughly: however, he will be restored.)
At the top is the shield from the Musgrave coat of arms. At the bottom is a regimental symbol.
Another member of the Musgrave family was killed in the Great War. Both of the windows with knight figures in the stained glass in the Memorial Chapel were given by the Musgrave family.

The knight figure to the viewer’s left has a scroll at his feet, which reads:

‘To the Glory of God and to the memory of Major Herbert Musgrave DSO, Royal Engineers, who fell in Northern France June 2nd 1918 while serving on the Staff of the Second Corps.’

‘An example of a noble courage and a memorial to virtue, not only unto young men but unto all his nation’.

A brass plaque on the north wall, below the Oxford Movement window, reads:

‘The Dead Shall Live.’ (This is either side of the IHS symbol for Jesus)

In loving memory of

69th Sussex Company Imperial Yeomanry
(eldest son of James Smeed and Amy his wife)
Born at East Court Farm in this parish
October 6 1879
Died of Enteric Fever at Pretoria South Africa
July 22 1900.

It was clearly important for this grieving family that their 21 year old son, a son of East Grinstead, should be remembered and that his name should live on, through being displayed in church.

Douglas Blakiston was Vicar of St Swithun’s from 1871-1908. He had 4 sons and 2 daughters. Blakiston lost 3 sons: Charles died in a firearms accident aged 24 in 1887; William fell under a train and died a few days later in 1889. John was a telegraph clerk among those killed while defending Mazowe, Zimbabwe- formerly Rhodesia, in 1896, during the Second Matabele War.

There is a brass plaque to John Lionel, the third Blakiston son to be killed. This is situated beyond the left hand choir stalls, on the wall before the Sanctuary. It reads:

In Loving Memory of John Lionel Blakiston,
3rd son of the Rev. Douglas Blakiston and Sophia his wife, who was killed June 18th 1896, aged 29, in the Mazoe Valley in Mashonaland,
Sacrificing his life for the safety of a party of settlers whom he had volunteered to bring in to Fort Salisbury.

The Blakiston shield is at the top of the plaque, with its motto: Do well and doubt not.

St Swithun’s has reminders of young men killed far way, serving their country- in Pretoria, Bombay and Zimbabwe, in conflicts often forgotten now, as well as Major Musgrave who fell in France in the last year of the Great War, and all the others of the parish who fell in both World Wars. Remembrance is etched into the fabric of the church.