Tattenhall Remembers – A commemoration of the start of World War I

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Commemorating the start of the Great War, Tattenhall Remembers was developed from an idea brought to the Parish Council by a resident.  The community was invited to bring ideas to a meeting and from that initial get together, the weekend developed.

It began with a church service on the Millfield by the Barbour Institute, after which Alison Pritchard, Vice Chair of the Parish Council, invited the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, David Briggs, to unveil a sculpture of a Horse of War.  The Horse was the inspiration of another resident and was commissioned by Tattenhall & District Parish Council, designed and made by local blacksmith, Andrew Smith, and funded by Cheshire West & Chester Borough Council from Cllr. Mike Jones Member’s Budget.  George, as the horse is named, will be a permanent memorial to the many horses sent from Cheshire to the war.

An Exhibition of posters, artefacts, medals and war records was staged in the Barbour Institute on 3rd and 4th August.  The Barbour Institute was used as an Auxilliary Military Hospital during the Great War and a recreation of a ward was staged to replicate that shown in an original painting which hangs in the building. There was also a replica Recruitment Office manned by a Police Officer wearing a uniform of the time.  The Exhibition was opened officially by the Sheriff of Chester, Cllr. Herbert Manley.

To lend an air of authenticity, students from Bishop’s High School in Chester walked around the Exhibition, dressed in a Tommy’s uniform, a VAD Nurse’s uniform and one replicating the uniform worn by patients in Military Hospitals at that time.

A major excitement for young people was the WW1 replica trench built over the Mill stream.  Blindfolded visitors were led over planks into the trench which was accurately built to include sandbags, a firing step, blood, gore and mud not to mention bombs going off at regular intervals.  Those who visited had the horror of the war brought home in graphic terms.

Entertainment was on offer from Tattenhall Amateur Dramatic Society who presented their version of The Best Christmas Present Ever by Michael Morpurgo, singers, musicians and dancers – all in suitable WWI mode.  A selection of poetry of the time was read, including some German verses read in that language by a recent Tattenhall resident.  There were refreshments 1914 style, including trench loaf made using an original recipe, and a chance to join in a sing-a-long of war time favourites.

Tattenhall was decorated with Union flags for the occasion and the new flagpole, bought by the Parish Council, was used to fly a Union flag donated to the village by residents whose son lost his life in the Falkland Islands.  The flag was among the effects returned to his family.  A wreath was laid by British Legion members at the War Memorial on behalf of all those sons of villagers who went to serve their country and did not return.

On 4th August, at 11pm residents gathered in the churchyard with candles and lanterns to listen as the muffled bells of St. Albans Church were rung, along with church bells across the country, to mark the time war was declared.

While in no way a celebration, the weekend was appreciated by the hundreds of residents and visitors who came throughout the two days and they went away with a greater understanding of what they owe to those who suffered the horrors of trench and gas warfare.

All money raised from the Church collection, from donations, and from the sale of refreshments has been donated to the British Legion Poppy Appeal.