Catherine-de-Barnes War Memorial

At 5pm on Trinity Sunday, 22nd May 1921, the Bishop of Birmingham dedicated the war memorial at Catherine-de-Barnes mission church, five years after a war memorial fund was begun.

St Catherine’s Church was a combined school and church, and was erected in 1879 by Joseph Gillott of Berry Hall. It was part of the parish of Solihull and, traditionally, the curate from St Alphege Church took charge of the mission church.

The Solihull Parish Magazine reported in June 1921 that the war memorial at Catherine-de-Barnes had been dedicated “at unavoidably short notice” by the Lord Bishop of Birmingham. There’s no explanation for the short notice, but the article gave further details about the memorial, which took the unusual form of a font and ewer.

The old stone bowl font, in use at Catney (the local name for Catherine-de-Barnes) had been in use for baptisms at the church since Joseph Gillott gave it to the village in 1879. Renowned local artist Elphege Pippitt (who also created the calvary war shine at St Alphege Church) designed the memorial, with the bowl fitted with chains and sunk into an oak stand.

The octagonal brass plaque surround was inscribed:

To the Glory of God and in grateful remembrance of Men, beloved of Catherine de Barnes, who gave their lives in the Great War, A.D. 1914-1918

The names of the Fallen inscribed on the plaque are:

Grant them, O Lord, Eternal Rest.”

A plaque on the oak font cover bears the inscription: “See that their names be not forgotten.”

During the dedication ceremony, Madonna Lilies were grouped around the font. These were the gift of relatives and friends of those who had died.

The war memorial fund had been started in 1916 with a small legacy from Harvey Hodgkin Fearn, who had died aged 18 on 15th May 1916 after a year’s illness. His father, Edward Fearn, gave a ewer to St Catherine’s Church, in memory of his son. The ewer was made out of two shell cases – a French .75 and a British 18-pounder.

After the Second World War, additional plaques were added to the font cover to commemorate those who died:

  • Captain Hylton Campbell, Highland Light Infantry
  • Private Frederick John Cockayne, Northamptonshire Regiment
  • Corporal Frank Valentine Coton, Royal Air Force
  • Stoker Hugh Scarlet Cull, Royal Navy
  • Ldg Stoker Bernard Albert Rowledge, Royal Navy
  • Fireman Sidney Charles Tropman

The cover also includes a plaque to a First World War casualty, whose connection to Catherine-de-Barnes we haven’t been able to find out:

Oak font cover bearing plaques with the names of those who died
Cover of the Catherine-de-Barnes memorial font (click to enlarge)

If you have any further information, please let us know.

Tracey
Library Specialist: Heritage & Local Studies

email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk

© Solihull Council, 2021.
You are welcome to link to this article, but if you wish to reproduce more than a short extract, please email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk

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