Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The War memorials of Loweswater, Cumbria

1. Loweswater Parish Church, Cumbria
Dedicated to St Bartholomew 
2. Interior of Loweswater Parish Church
The WW1 memorial is the lectern near the altar
(Bottom left): The V.E. Day memorial prayer kneeler
3. Loweswater's WW1 memorial lectern
(It lists the names of five parishioners who died)
4. Prayer kneeler in Loweswater church
Remembering the 50th anniversary of V.E. Day
(8 May 1945 - 8 May 1995)
5. Headstone memorial for Rev. G.H. White 
A former Vicar of Loweswater (1945 - 1974)
He was also a P.O.W. of the Germans in WW2
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 For additional information click on 'Comments' below. 
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5 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information
Introduction

Loweswater is a small civil and ecclesiastical parish in the western part of the English Lake District. It is rural in nature and the main economic activity within the parish is sheep farming and tourism. Within the parish there is a small lake, also known as Loweswater, is unique in the Lake District because it is the only one where its waters drain inland and away from the sea. Its river flows into another larger lake, Crummock Water and from this lake the water flows to the sea.

Each September since the mid-19th Century, apart from during the years of the World Wars, there has been a shepherd's meet, Loweswater Show. The show gives the people of the parish and neighbouring districts to meet up, show off livestock and dogs and take part in sports such as hound trailing, fell running and Cumberland & Westmorland wrestling. According to Reverend Geoffrey White, Vicar - President of Loweswater Show in 1973, the show is "... a panorama of life, just as the sweeping vistas of lakes and fells provides it with an incomparable setting once described by a bishop as 'the most beautiful this side of Heaven'."

Over the course of its history Loweswater parish has only had a population of no more than a few hundred. The highest recorded population was 454 in 1831 when there was active lead and iron ore mining in the district. During the first half of the 20th Century, when the two World Wars took place, the total population of Loweswater averaged about 200. Thus, only a comparatively small number of young men and women who served in the Armed Forces during the war with five losing their lives in the First World War and one in the Second World War.
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Wednesday, 24 January, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Remembering the World Wars

At the centre of the ecclesiastical parish is the parish church, dedicated to St Bartholemew [Photographs No. 1 and No. 2]. The parish war memorials are found inside the church, although both the World War 1 and World War 2 memorials are somewhat different to most other parish or village war memorials.

During WW1 (1914 - 1918) there were five local men who died:
Joseph Beck, Lincolnshire Yeomanry
Bernard Gamble, Bedfordshire Regt.
Percy Gamble, Border Regt. (Epitaph: "Stern Death, his form may blast but love lives on. Edie").
Emmanuel Norman, Border Regt.
David Vickers, KORL Regt. (Epitaph: "Faithful Unto Death")
Bernard and Percy Gamble were sons of a former Vicar of Loweswater, the Rev. John Gamble. David Vickers is also remembered on the WW1 memorial for the neighbouring parish of Buttermere. These days the three ecclesiastical parishes of Lorton, Loweswater and Buttermere are part of one benefice sharing the same Vicar with some overlap in parish life.

Loweswater's WW1 memorial is rather unusual as it is the lectern inside the church which was granted by the Diocesan Faculty in 1919 [Photograph No. 3]. It has the names of Loweswater's five WW1 casualties engraved on it and so these five soldiers remain part of parish life every time there is a church service.

Loweswater had only one WW2 casualty: Alan Edmond Catherall, R.A.F.V.R. although he was actually born and raised in the nearby parish of Buttermere. While Alan Catherall is not commemorated at Loweswater there is a memorial for him inside the church at Buttermere (see link below for details). To read the article about the Buttermere war memorials including that for Alan Catherall click here:
Upon this Rock: Buttermere in WW2

Other than Alan Catherall Loweswater could otherwise be regarded as a 'Thankful village' of WW2 (i.e. not having lost anyone in the war). However, there is an unusual WW2 memorial inside Loweswater church. On the 50th anniversary of V.E. Day, 8 May 1995, a prayer kneeler was dedicated for peace, goodwill and in thanksgiving for the sacrifices of the people during the war years 1939 - 1945 [Photograph no. 4].
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Wednesday, 24 January, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Reverend Geoffrey Howard White (1910-1990)
Vicar of Loweswater (1945-1974)

The first post-war Vicar of St Bartholomew's, Loweswater (Church of England) was Reverend Geoffrey Howard White who served in this role for just over 28 years, from late 1945 until 1974. He was inducted as Vicar of Loweswater on 31 December 1945, the last day of the year. When he died on 23 January 1990, Reverend White was buried in Loweswater churchyard [Photograph No. 5].

During WW2, Reverend White had been an Army Chaplain (4th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment) and was taken prisoner in 1940 in the B.E.F. withdrawal to Dunkirk. From then until the end of the war he was a P.O.W. of the Germans and continued as chaplain in a number of prison camps. His physical and mental health would often be poor after the war which can be attributed to conditions in the prison camps during the war. Below are a few biographical details of Reverend Geoffrey White.

Geoffrey Howard White was born at Chorley, Lancashire on 10 July 1910, the fourth child and second son of George Frank White and Lilian White. In 1911 Geoffrey's family were living at Horwich near Chorley but later moved to Manchester and then Marple, Cheshire close to the county border of Derbyshire.

Between the ages of 16 and 24, Geoffrey White was resident at Kelham Hall, Nottinghamshire, home of an Anglican religious order, the Society of the Sacred Mission. The original purpose of the SSM was to train people for Anglican missionary service overseas, specifically Korea. But the society was also involved in training clergy for the Church of England at home and it was this latter route that Geoffrey White followed. He was ordained at Leicester Cathedral in 1934.

After obtaining a commission as an Army Chaplain (Army No. 89794), Reverend Geoffrey White went to France with the B.E.F. After Dunkirk Reverend White spent the rest of the war as a P.O.W. (P.O.W. No 1045). He had several bouts of serious illness during his imprisonment, including dysentery. Shortly after being freed from the prison camps in 1945 Reverend White was briefly Chaplain to the Border Regiment based at Carlisle Castle.

Because of his continuing ill health Reverend White was discharged from the Army on medical grounds and the Bishop of Carlisle offered him to take over the rural parish of Loweswater. According to the bishop, the setting of the parish at Loweswater was "... the most beautiful this side of Heaven". Thus, a new life in a new area began for Reverend White after five years as a P.O.W.

At that time and for many years afterwards Loweswater was not not connected to the National Grid so there was no mains electricity, but plenty of fresh air, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables and fine views of English Lakeland. Even so, the furniture and fittings in the vicarage was only a little better than in the prison camp - a camp bed, one chair and table and a primus stove for cooking. Gradually, Reverend White's health improved. He took up fishing in the local rivers and lakes and would catch salmon, tout and the deepwater char (potted char has long been a delicacy in the Loweswater area).
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Wednesday, 24 January, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Post-war life in Loweswater

As well as being the shepherd of the ecclesiastical parish of Loweswater, Reverend White took an active part in the post-war social life of the civil parish, such as forming a Dramatic Society and becoming President of the Loweswater Show (a "Shepherd's Meet", agricultural show with Lakeland sports such as fell running and Cumberland & Westmorland wrestling).

Among Reverend White's closest friends at Loweswater were the Robinson family, 'Wenty' and Madeleine and their three children Edmund, Daniel and Joan. 'Wenty' Robinson also served as churchwarden at St Bartholomew's parish church for many years. After retiring from the active church ministry in 1974 Reverend Geoffrey White continued to live at Loweswater and in 1980, at the age of 70, he married his long-time family friend Joan Robinson, daughter of Wenty and Madeleine, at Levens, Westmorland. When Mrs Joan White died in 2004 she was buried with her husband.

After Reverend Geoffrey White died in 1990, the written memoirs of his wartime captivity were published and co-authored by a local writer, Rosemary Southey. Given the title "A Dash of White", the memoir was published by 'Forster Davis' - the wife and husband team of Margaret Forster and Hunter Davis, two writers with an international reputation. For many years Margaret Forster and Huter Davis had a home at Loweswater. There is a copy of "A Dash of White" in the library of the Imperial War Museum, London.
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'HMS Melbreak', WW2 destroyer

HMS Melbreak (J4293), a WW2 Type III (Hunter Class) destroyer in the Royal Navy, was the adopted warship of Cockermouth and district including Loweswater. J4293 took the name 'Melbreak' from the fell (mountain) Melbreak in Loweswater parish.

In October 1944 some of the officers and ratings made a goodwill visit to its adopted district which included meeting up with the Melbreak Foxhounds Hunt at the Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater. To read an article about this wartime visit to Loweswater click on the following link:
A welcome break from hunting U-Boats
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Wednesday, 24 January, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Dedication
This article is dedicated to the people of Loweswater past and present.
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Acknowledgements
Parish of Loweswater

'The Whitehaven News'

Cumbria County Archives (Whitehaven Records Office)

"A Dash of White" by Rev. Geoffrey H. White and Rosemary Southey (1990), Forster and Davis, Loweswater (112 pages); IWM Ref. LBY K. 91 / 2260
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Wednesday, 24 January, 2018  

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