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St Jude’s had what may have been the first of very few war memorials to horses. The idea for the memorial came from the first vicar, the Reverend Basil Bourchier, who as a forces chaplain in the Great War had seen their suffering.
In 1926 he was offered a bronze of a war-horse moulded by Charles Lutyens (the late father of the architect of the church) that had been exhibited at the Royal Academy.
Charles Lutyens (1829–1915) was an army officer and served initially in Montreal where he married Mary Theresa Gallwey, the daughter of a major in the Royal Irish Constabulary, who had abandoned Roman Catholicism and the intention of becoming a nun when she discovered the sisters at her convent school had untruthfully told her theVirgin Mary personally collected post left for her on an altar in the chapel. She was thereafter a devout evangelical while Charles seems to have been a more conventional but staunch low churchman.
Charles was an enthusiastic sketcher, producing many drawings of Sebastopol while serving in the army of occupation in the Crimea in 1855 (he missed the war itself). As a keen huntsman he developed what he thought was a talent for animal painting and, perhaps unwisely, decided to leave the army (with the rank of Captain) in 1857 to become a professional artist. He studied with Sir Edwin Landseer, helped in the design for the Trafalgar Square lions, and received commissions fro Landseer’s’ wealthy clients to paint their horses. His method was to rst make a clay model, followed by a drawing and then the painting.
It is likely it was one of these models that was offered to Bourchier, probably by Edwin Lutyens himself.
Largely, it seems, through contributions from the congregation the bronze was purchased and an accompanying plaque and wooden plinth commissioned. The memorial was unveiled on Easter Sunday (April 4) 1926 by the Vicar’s great friend Miss Frances Jeffcock during ‘Festal Mattins’ and dedicated by him. It originally stood on the north side of the church to the left of the St George’s altar.
Unfortunately the bronze itself was stolen in 1967 - as was a replica - and so what we have today (on the wall by the main west door) is the original plaque and a new (1970) bronze relief of a war horse by Rosemary Proctor, daughter of William Maxwell Rennie, the third vicar.
A.M.D.G./ IN GRATEFUL AND REVERENT/ MEMORY OF THE EMPIRE'S/ HORSES (SOME 375,000) WHO FELL IN/ THE GREAT WAR (1914-1918)/ MOST OBEDIENTLY, AND OFTEN/ MOST PAINFULLY, THEY DIED/ "FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH/ NOT ONE OF THEM IS/ FORGOTTEN BEORE GOD"/ EASTER 1926.