Plaque at Baldslow village commemorates war dead

Baldslow Village Hall committee unveiling a plaque for the dead from both world wars at Baldslow Memorial Hall 16/11/14.  Pic by Frank Copper
Baldslow Village Hall committee unveiling a plaque for the dead from both world wars at Baldslow Memorial Hall 16/11/14. Pic by Frank Copper

A plaque commemorating the fallen from Baldslow in both world wars was recently unveiled at the village hall.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the Baldslow Village Hall Committee commissioned the new plaque, which also remembers the boys who attended the former Hydneye school.

Baldslow Village Hall committee unveiling a plaque for the dead from both world wars at Baldslow Memorial Hall 16/11/14.''Pic by Frank Copper SUS-141117-163115001

Baldslow Village Hall committee unveiling a plaque for the dead from both world wars at Baldslow Memorial Hall 16/11/14.''Pic by Frank Copper SUS-141117-163115001

Committee member Toby Carpenter said the village, which was first mentioned in the Doomsday Book, is steeped in history.

He said: “Originally Baldslow was served with a church (St Peter’s) and a school room/hall next to Beaulieu Farm which was erected around the 1860s. This also served Hydneye School. Just before the Second World War plans were put in place to widen The Ridge and the church and hall were to be demolished.”

After the war, though the road widening scheme was postponed, funding was raised for a new community hall and church. St Peters and the school room were demolished but church authorities chose not to replace the church and parishioners were passed to St John’s in Hollington.

The community continued with plans for the hall which opened in November 1985, in Harrow Lane.

Toby added: “Unfortunately, the donations for the church were distributed, by the church authorities, to other parishes. This included a donation of £10,000 made before the war.”

Toby says prior to being demolished, every Armistice Sunday, a remembrance ceremony was held in St Peter’s to the village war dead and the boys of Hydneye School. He added: “Plaques were erected in the church remembering the dead. When St Peter’s was closed, the plaques, font, alter table and notice board were sent to St John’s where they are cared for and used today. The font of St Peter’s is still used for christenings in St John’s.”

To mark the 30th anniversary of the hall and the 100th anniversary of the First World War, resident Pat Wilson asked the committee to release funds to purchase a replacement plaque to the village war dead.

The plaque was commissioned and those attending the unveiling and remembrance ceremony were villagers past and present. They included a sizeable group of descendants of Charles West (who fell in the First World War) including his great-niece Pat Wilson who also attended. The ceremony was led by his great-nephew Pastor David West.

Others attending included Esther Carpenter and her two sons and granddaughter, Isabelle - the fifth generation of the family to live in the village and the third generation to be born there - and Robert Eldridge and his wife whose family have lived and worked Beaulieu Farm for generations.

Toby said: “In the future we are hoping to have an annual remembrance service in the hall, to honour all the fallen, and we hope all the local community will be able to attend.”

He added: “For anyone interested in the history of the village Christopher Swarbrooke has created a website at: www.baldslow.com.

“He and the hall committee would love for anyone with memories of the village to get in touch. We are hoping to create a picture archive of the village before it is completely overwhelmed by the aggressive development planned for the part of The Ridge.”

The hall is available for bookings. Contact the bookings secretary Esther Carpenter 01424 751581.