The Great War: A Commemoration Service Day

Sunday August 3, 2014

The West Watford History Group, the website of which my mum keeps up-to-date, as well as being a founder member of the group, had been invited to attend a special service for the World War One Commemoration, at St. Mary’s church, followed by a buffet lunch at Watford Museum. My mum gladly accepted the invite, on behalf of the group, and asked me if I would accompany her.

Order of Service for the World War One Commemoration.

Order of Service for the World War One Commemoration.

Mum and I left my house, at 09:30, and took a slow walk into Watford, where we grabbed a coffee at Caffe Nero. Mum spotted a few friends and acquaintances, who we joined, as we entered the church, where we took a seat near the back of the church.

The service began with the entrance of a Civic Procession, which consisted of Dorothy Thornhill, Watford’s elected mayor, and various councillors. Maurice Saunders, president of the Croxley Green British Legion, with various servicemen and ex-servicemen. Richard Harrington MP, Watford’s Member of Parliament, and other dignitaries.

With everyone seated, Reverend Tony Rindl welcomed everyone to the service, before we all stood to sing the hymn, All my hope on God is founded. This was followed by a Call to worship and Psalm 59: The innocent war victim pleads for deliverance.

This was followed by a two-part drama: Britain enters the War.

Set on August 3, 1914, part one of the drama was set in the House of Commons, from the viewpoint of Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, and we are shown why the British government felt it necessary to go to war.

The second part was set in the Foreign Office, with the US Secretary of State meeting with Sir Edward Grey, after the twenty-four hour ultimatum has been handed to Germany. The lamps are going out all over Europe.

The drama was brilliantly executed and was so enthralling that not a murmur was heard, from the hushed audience. This was followed by a reading: Revelation 6: 1-8: The Four Horsemen are unleashed.

There were then more prayers and hymns and readings, before the story of the Men of St. Mary’s was read. This concerned a stories of some of the 114 men, from the Parish, who fought and died in The Great War. One of these concerned two brothers who both died in different battles, but on the very same day, in 1917.

The Reverend Tony Rindl then gave his sermon, with the message that, when given a choice, ‘to do nothing is often the worst choice of all.’

With the service over, the congregation began to filter out. Some went for coffee in the church hall, while others headed out into the noon sun. Somehow I got separated from mum, so I took the opportunity to have a look around the church, itself. A few minutes later we found each other, out in the churchyard, and made our way to Watford Museum.

Flags hanging in the Essex Chapel.

Flags hanging in the Essex Chapel.

Many of the congregation had made their way to the museum, before us, and were mingling inside the old Benskins Brewery building. So, grabbing a small plate of food, and a glass of orange juice, mum and I headed outside, where a gazebo had been erected. Considering the heat of the day it was far cooler beneath the gazebo, compared to inside the museum. We were soon joined by Mayor Dorothy Thornhill and an RAF serviceman and his family. The conversation went from the service to general chit-chat about Watford and what we like and love about our town.

We then decided that we should make the most of our time, at the museum, and went for a tour. It has been many years since I last looked around the museum, probably because it always appears closed. As it turns out, the museum is only open Thursday – Saturday, from 10:00 – 17:00. There are some nice displays, but I feel that there must be so much more that could be shown, if only they had the space. The Cassiobury House exhibit consists of a large room with paintings on the walls. The rest of the room is empty. Was there nothing more that they could do with it? Anyway. After a good look around we spoke to a few people, grabbed a drink and headed for the door. Mum had filled a paper plate with small cakes, on the suggestion of one of the volunteers, as the there was so much food, it would be a shame for it to go to waste.

The Pennant Bar in Watford Museum.

The Pennant Bar in Watford Museum.

We then made our way home, with mum’s friend Sue and her grandson, via Lady’s Close. Seeing as the gates to the Watford Grammar School for Girls were open, we went in to see the refurbished Lady’s Close house. This was once a private residence, but is now the English department, for the school. From here we carried on our way home.

This once private residence is now the English department, at Watford Grammar School for Girls.

This once private residence is now the English department, at Watford Grammar School for Girls.

From the service to the museum, it was a different but interesting day, that I am happy to have been a part of.

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2 responses to “The Great War: A Commemoration Service Day

  1. Nice recounting of the day, which I too was glad to be a part of. The “Cassiobury gallery” did seem a little thin on the ground for exhibits, but they do have regular exhibitions when much more is on show. I particularly enjoyed part of the walk back and a look at Lady’s Close. Had a complete refurbishment, by all accounts and new additions. Looked very smart, though a little of its older character seemed to have been lost. Looking forward now to the History Group’s heritage weekend.

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