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13 Mar 2021
Somerset Fascinating facts 20th Century facts - As the anniversary of the Titanic passes, find out why Somerset has a personal connection and what are thankful villages.
As the anniversary of the Titanic passes, find out why Somerset has a personal connection and what are thankful villages.
The tumultuous events of the First World War left their mark on virtually every village in England. The fervour of fighting for ‘one’s country’ had a grim reality as those at home mourned the loss of sons, brothers and workmates. By the end of the war some villages, however, could celebrate the return of all their combatants. In the 1930s the author Arthur Mee coined the term ‘Thankful Village’ (also known as Blessed Village) and this name still remains as a reminder of these fortunate few.Nine Somerset villages didn’t loose a combatant in the First World War.
• Holywell Lake • Rodney Stoke • Shapwick
Only two of these villages (Stocklinch and Woolley) were doubly thankful to not lose a single combatant in the Second World War.
When it was realised all their soldiers had returned, the inhabitants of the small Cheddar village of Rodney Stoke decided to both celebrate their blessings and honour those who had died from nearby villages.
In 1920 they installed a stained-glass window in St Leonard’s Church with an inscription recording the purpose of the window to serve both ‘as a thanksgiving and as a permanent war memorial and commemoration of the good work done by the sailors, soldiers and nurses who took part in the Great War’.
The pews of Rodney Stoke bear wonderfully carved bench ends, the work of a local group who attended ‘Home Art Classes’ directed by the Misses Evelyn and Margaret Coleridge Smith (whose father was rector from 1890 to 1923). One of the party who carved the bench ends was Reginald Hale, who decided to emigrate to America.
No doubt he thought himself very lucky to be able to make the trip on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Sadly, Reginald was one of the 1500 passengers who lost their lives.
For more on Somerset's incredible history and heritage go to our interactive E Book.