My dear people

The south cloister at Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey archives hold various records from the First World War period – including the monthly newsletters written by the Rector at the time, Prebendary Sydney Boyd.

The monthly notice from August 1914.
The monthly notice from August 1914. Click on image to enlarge.

One of them – dating from August 1st 1914 – is reproduced on the front cover of this month’s newsletter from Bath’s parish church!

War was declared just three days later and just weeks afterwards fifteen members of the Abbey Congregation had already voluntarily enlisted in the Army and Navy.

Along with other newsletters written during 1914-1918 the letter gives a better understanding of the impact of the war on the Abbey community, the city of Bath and society as a whole.

It also helps commemorate the First World War by allowing parishioners to find out more about those who lost their lives or whose lives were changed forever.

A sculpture on display in the Gethsemane Chapel.
A sculpture on display in the Gethsemane Chapel.

The Abbey’s Norman chapel was reordered as a war memorial chapel and dedicated in 1922.

It is now known as the Gethsemane Chapel and also includes a Book of Remembrance which records the names of all civilians and military personnel who died between 1939 and 1945.

The Abbey's book and gift shop - housed in part of the South Cloister War Memorial.
The Abbey’s book and gift shop – housed in part of the South Cloister War Memorial.

During the Bath air raids of 1942 the blast from a bomb falling on the Recreation Ground nearby blew out the Great East window and all the windows on the north side of the Abbey.

Did you know the Abbey’s gift and bookshop is also housed in part of another war memorial.

It’s within the new south cloister which was dedicated as a war memorial on Armistice Day in 1927.

 In the meantime, the Abbey is appealing for people to come forward with photos, memories passed on from grandparents etc about the Abbey during the First World War period.

More details on their website http://www.bathabbey.org/history/first-world-war-centenary