The Bingham War Memorial

Within All Saints' Church in Bingham, in memory of men who made the supreme sacrifice and died for peace, the massive base of the fifteenth century oak chancel screen was given a fine top with tracery and a beautiful cornice; a memorial to the men who died in the First World War (1914-1918). The names of men who died in the Second World War are also inscribed.

The provision of the memorial was a joint project of the Parochial Church Council and the Bingham Branch of the Royal British Legion, formed in 1921, and succeeded in no small part through to the stalwart efforts of one Ann Harrison (1829-1928).

In 1911, Ann Harrison, single, is listed in the census as living in Union Street, Bingham, and in her eighties still working as a laundress. Ann's memorial figure in Bingham Church is eighteen inches high and is carved in oak( from a photograph and a friend's recollection) with her wrinkled, kindly face, her bonnet and shawl, her stick and large fish basket in which she collected 'odds and ends', selling them, and giving two half-crowns each time to the church funds. With the total sum the beautiful 'Roll of Honour' was placed on the lectern. Her photograph can be seen at the beginning of the Book of Honour to the fallen. [Adelaide Wortley, 1954].

On her death in her hundredth year, Canon Hutt, Rector of Bingham, contributed; "Ann's old armchair is in the Church near her attractive little figure. The chair, too, has a story for it was once claimed for unpaid Chimney Tax, and so passed to the Rectory. Now it carries an old lady's memory down the years."

"So our dear old friend Ann Harrison has gone to her rest. We all had grown so accustomed to that bent figure walking down the street, that we had come to regard her as a Bingham institution, and were proud of her. We all hoped she would live to reach her century, and we might then have been still prouder of her, but it was not to be. Many of us had noticed for some time a certain abatement in her truly marvellous vigour, and just lately it had become more noticeable still. She confided to me last December that she felt the end could not be far off and then at once added, "Never mind, I am quite ready and I am going on as long as God lets me." And when the time came, she just lay down and passed over to the other side as quietly and peacefully as if she were a little child going to sleep. Naturally we all regret her going, the snapping of a link that visibly bound us to an almost dim past. She had lived in the reigns of five sovereigns and she had a vivid recollection of all that had happened in Bingham during the last 95 years. Her memory was marvellous and on the whole wonderfully accurate."

"But what a great character she was! We have all remarked at one time or another on her independence, but did you notice that that independence was always founded on self-respect and self-reliance, and underneath it all, there was all the charm of an old world old fashioned courtesy?"

"Now that she has gone I feel at liberty to tell the following story about her. It happened during the war, at the time when old age pensions were raised from 5/- to 7/6 a week. At the time we had a weekly Intercession Service in Church and collections were for the Roll of Honour which is now on the Lectern. Now this is what the dear old lady did. She got hold of the largest fish basket she could find (sometimes it was a bucket) and went to all her friends and acquaintances and collected their refuse, such as potato peelings and so forth. This refuse she sold to a man who was fattening pigs, and by this means she made 5/- a week. At every Intercession Service at which she was present (and she was there 19 times out of 20) there were invariably two half crowns in the collection. It took me some little time before I could definitely trace them to her, and when I had done so mine was far from an easy path. However, I took my courage in both hands and approached her as diplomatically as I could with the intimation that if she gave 3d or 6d at the Service, and kept the rest for own pressing needs, she would be doing splendidly. I can see the dear old lady drawing herself up to her full height and looking me straight in the face and saying, "Will you kindly mind your own business?" Wasn't it just like her? The result was that while there were no more half-crowns in the collection, the sum collected was approximately the same. There is no doubt whatever that she, by means of her fish basket, provided all the money necessary for the Roll of Honour, and this enabled the rest of us to provide the beautiful figure of Saint George which surmounts the Lectern."

"I am disclosing no confidence when I say that the story of how it was obtained will be inscribed in the Roll of Honour, and it would not surprise me if some definite step were shortly to be taken to provide a small permanent memorial to her, for she loved her Church with her whole heart, and she has left behind her record which in more ways than one is unique and unparalleled, and it is altogether unseemly that such a life should be allowed to be forgotten as though it had never been. May her soul rest in peace and may God's perpetual light shine upon her."
(HRM Hutt, January, 1928)

The first town meeting to consider erecting a war memorial was held on Monday 18th November 1918. The Rector proposed memorials be erected in the Parish Church, The Wesleyan Church and the Independent Methodist Chapel. The Wesleyan minister said it should be in a public place. George Brown JP suggested a (memorial) cottage hospital and nurse's house. After losing the vote the Rector and his supporters left the meeting. It was then agreed to convene a small committee!

Two and a half years later, the war memorial was finally installed as a screen in the parish church. It was dedicated at a service in the parish church on Sunday June 26th 1921.

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The Roll of Honour
Roll of the fallen
Roll of those who survived
Sources, list of acknowledgements
Glossary of terms and abbreviations

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