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We should celebrate this ‘fine’ memorial
3:49pm Wednesday 18th April 2012 in Letters
Norton’s war dead have one of the finest and most lavish memorials in the county.
St Peter’s Church, which has often been referred to as Ryedale Minster, became the focus of the community’s loss for the South African War as it was being built.
When the losses started to come through during the First World War, then that focus did not change.
Indeed the side chapel, which in most Anglican churches is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and called the Lady Chapel, was dedicated to the 119 Nortonians who did not return and called the Memorial Chapel.
After the Second World War, a memorial to the 570 men and women who served and the 24 who died was also installed in that chapel.
The screen surrounding the chapel is in memory of Capt Innes Hopkins, who fell at Ypres, in May 1915. The window at the east end of the chapel is in memory of Capt Legard, who fell in the South African War, and the one in the south wall to another of the Legard family, who fell in France in 1915.
The book of remembrance in the chapel carries the names of all the Norton fallen in the first conflict. It was given by the vicar, who lost two sons. He went on to become Dean of Westminster.
In the main body of the church are other windows remembering Norton men who were killed in France and the Balkans.
The large east window is one of the last windows by the famous glass artist Kempe, dedicated in 1903 to “the sons of Norton” who fell in South Africa.
But the star is the Great West Window by CW Whall, paid for by the townsfolk and dedicated in 1922.
It commemorates the sacrifice of all who served and those who fell in the First World War.
York Minster has its regimental memorial chapels but Norton not only has a memorial chapel but the whole parish church shot through with the town’s remembrance and pride. We have to accept that the generation that suffered the losses wanted their loved ones remembered in this particular way and in this particular place.
Two and three generations separate us from them but we must honour and respect their choice and position of memorial.
If they’d wanted their loved ones remembered on a Malton Memorial, then that’s what they would have done.
Come on Norton, do you want your war dead to be an afterthought on someone else’s memorial?
Hold your head up high and be proud of what you have. It’s very, very special.
CANON BILL ANKERS, Norton