A few months ago I visited friends in Cambridgeshire. Getting an hour
to myself, I went to visit what is probably the most famous village in
Cambridgeshire, at least as far as the Internet Great War Community is concerned.
This is Swavesey - the subject of Phil Curme's wonderfully evocative
"Swavesey Chronicles" website. (There's a link from my LINKS page.)
While I was there, I risked a chance phone call and within a few minutes
I had met Phil and his wife for the first time. Phil showed me round the
village and while we were talking he mentioned another village - Swaffham
Prior - just a few miles away. He told me about a War Memorial Window in
the church there. It sounded too good to miss, so I visited it the next day
and discovered a real jewel.
St, Mary the Virgin, Swaffham Prior
There are two churches next to each other in Swaffham Prior and they look almost identical. One of them, St. Cyriac and St. Julitta, has been restored and converted into an art-gallery. The other, St. Mary the Virgin, contains the window. In fact, there are three windows forming the War Memorial and I have never seen anything like them. Each of the three windows represents a different aspect of war. The first represents the horrors and dangers of war. There is a zeppelin cruising across a black, star-laden sky, a huge howitzer in action, a frenzied battle-scene and so on. Then comes the "good" which can come out of war in terms of Friendship, Comradeship and Caring. Finally there is a vision of a world where war is no more.
Interior - showing the three windows
When I arrived, the Churchwarden was just opening up the church ready for the Sunday morning service. He let me borrow some stepladders (Phil had told me to ask for them) and I began taking photographs, some of which appear below.
For each, I have given the biblical text accompanying the particular part of the window, and a thumbnail version of the image. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version. At the bottom of each picture is a BACK link to bring you back to this page.
THERE IS NEITHER SPEECH NOR LANGUAGE BUT THEIR VOICE IS HEARD AMONG THEM
(Signals bell-tent, telegraph poles and wires)
THOUGH THEY CLIMB TO THE HEAVENS, THENCE WILL I BRING THEM DOWN
(German-marked aircraft. The artist seems to have based his design on
a French SPAD
THOUGH THEY DIG INTO HELL, THENCE SHALL MY HAND TAKE THEM
(A soldier in British Uniform looks down into a captured concrete-built German dug-out. Shell-holes and No-Man's Land in the background)
THOUGH THEY BE HID FROM MY SIGHT IN THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, THENCE WILL I COMMAND THE SERPENT AND HE SHALL BITE THEM
(A U-Boat, passing a sunken hull, is about to collide with a snake-like anti-submarine-net)
AND SIGNS IN THE EARTH BENEATH. FLOOD AND FIRE AND VAPOUR OF SMOKE
(Fighting in the Trenches)
MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU. NOT AS THE WORLD GIVETH GIVE I UNTO YOU
(A dying soldier, aided by RAMC men, receives the Last Rites from a padre.)
COMFORT YE! COMFORT YE, MY PEOPLE
(A motor-ambulance with a female driver by the open rear doors, wounded men on stretchers, RAMC men and a nursing sister.)
Copyright © Tom Morgan, July, 1997.
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