The 25 parishioners who died in World War One are commemorated on our Centennial War Memorial.
As the centenary of the start of World War One approached, we were reminded that St James the Less was one of the few churches in the Valley that had no memorial to the dead of their parish.
Extensive and painstaking research of the Church’s records, Local History and the Diocese’s Archives revealed 25 fatalities, so far, who were parishioners of St James The Less.
The memorial is a judicious and tasteful blend of the modern and the traditional, connecting today with our 1914-18 heritage.
The front face of the memorial is a Marian figure standing on an oval plinth, with the dedication: ‘Mary, Mother of Peace, Pray For Us’. The figure has a semi abstract face, hooded above a flowing cloak, with hands held in prayer. The cross at the base of the figure echoes the three crosses on the plinth.
The side face has a bas-relief image of a mother and babe in arms looking out over headstones; these headstones symbolise the final resting places of so many of the war dead. The names and ages of our dead parishioners are inscribed alphabetically beneath.
The memorial’s contrasting sharp edges and sweeping lines create an evocative shape, one which is even more memorable and moving when illuminated at night.
This is more than a memorial. It is also a piece of art that, hopefully, will make everyone who stands before it think about sacrifices in war throughout the world. May it also help us meditate that, in these troubled times, 100 years after The Great War, all the world is in need of the help of Mary, Our Mother of Peace.