Tag Archives: Jonathan Jones

Lest we Forget

“Lest we Forget” was one of the most moving and interesting events that I have ever been to. Jonathan Jones read poetry from the Great War, first from the perspective of the soldiers, and after the interval from the perspective of the women – wives, mothers and lovers left at home.

In between the poems Jonathan explained the context and I learned so much about such things as the origins of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the tradition of wearing poppies and the tomb of The Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

We really must never forget the horror of the Great War and I am so grateful to Jonathan for introducing me to poems and history that I was completely unaware of. My favourite poem was “The Road to La Bassée” – so very human and down to earth. I was also struck by the poem “Christ in Flanders” by Lucy Whitmell.

Kathy Robertson did us proud with her team providing authentic WWI refreshments and then Margaret Emberson lead us in singing some WWI songs. Oh and £200 was raised for the “Emily the Organ” appeal.

Lesley Crawley

Lest we forget

On the 10th November 1920, one hundred cadets from the Duke of York’s Royal Military School, the military boarding school I attended in Dover, together with a contingent from the 2nd Connaught Rangers, formed a guard of honour as the coffin of the Unknown Warrior was received at the Marine Railway Station, Dover, for its onward journey to Victoria Station, in readiness for the funeral service to take place in Westminster Abbey the following day.

It was Rev. David Railton, a military Chaplain, and the then vicar of St. John the Baptist Church, Margate, who first suggested to the Dean of Westminster the idea of arranging for the body of an unknown serviceman to be returned from the battlefields of Northern France, to be given a national burial service in Westminster Abbey, as a focus of grief for all those whose loved ones had no known grave.

On the 7th November 1920 an instruction went out to the burial parties in France that one unidentified body be exhumed from each of the four main early battlefields of the war; the Aisne, Arras, the Somme and Ypres. The bodies were delivered to a small chapel in St Pol., where one body was selected at random and placed in a sealed coffin.

On the 10th November 1920, the coffin was piped aboard H.M.S. Verdun for the journey across the channel to Dover. As it entered Dover Harbour, a 19-gun salute was fired from Dover Castle, a salute normally reserved for the return of a Field Marshall.

On the 11th November 1920, after the unveiling of the new Cenotaph in Whitehall by King George V, and the two-minute silence, the Unknown Warrior was taken to Westminster Abbey, and interred in the far western end of the nave, using soil also brought back from the battlefields of Northern France.

The inscription on the black Belgian marble stone that caps the grave includes the following:-


There is also a stone in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, dedicated to the memory of all the poets of the Great War, twelve of whom are listed by name, and six of whom were to die during that conflict. It is through their poetry that we can better understand the horror and futility of war, and the need to ensure that such conflicts never again occur.

On the 12th November, at St Mark’s, I will be recounting in greater detail the origins of the Unknown Warrior, together with the origins of other aspects of remembrance that we now observe, and interspersed with readings of the poets such as Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.



A sparkling evening of Kipling

Jonathan Jones treated local residents to a sparking evening of drama and poetry when he performed a one-man Kipling show at St Mark’s Church, Upper Hale, to raise money for the “Emily the Organ” appeal. One of the parishioners, Kathy Robertson, with her team, provided props and the refreshments and the church was transformed into Kipling’s living room for the evening.

The Reverend Lesley Crawley said, “Jonathan told us Kipling’s life story in the first person. We travelled with him through his difficult childhood and the appalling grief when he lost first his daughter and then his son during the Great War. There was also humour and deep wisdom in the poetry. The evening was spellbinding.”

£380 was raised towards refurbishing the pipe organ, at the moment £6000 has been raised towards the £23,000 target. If you would like to help get the pipe organ playing again then please contact Lesley Crawley on 01252 820537 or revdlesley@gmail.com

A Christmas Carol

There is something magical about a good story and there are few storytellers as good as Charles Dickens. When he published A Christmas Carol he wished that it would “haunt (our) houses pleasantly”, and that “no one (would) wish to lay it”. The power of his storytelling was that, 172 years later it is still haunting us most pleasantly and far from laying it, we call up its spirit again and again.

The magic of the tale kept an audience enthralled on the evening of December 5 at a one-man rendition given at St Mark’s Church in Hale, Farnham. To be fair, it was not just the tale that had us spellbound, it was the way it was told by Jonathan Jones, who is often seen around Farnham in his guise as Town Crier. On that Saturday he had cast off his green crier’s coat in favour of a red velvet jacket and sat comfortably in an armchair in front of the altar. From here, though he did not stay seated for long, he told us the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, nephew Fred and the three Ghosts – Past, Present and Yet to Come.

It is a famous story which plays unashamedly with our emotions, and Jonathan drew on all its clever devices so much so that I actually found a tiny tear in my eye for dear Tiny Tim, and though I knew the ending well, I was still relieved when… spoiler alert… Scrooge saw the error of his ways.

All of this was told without a note, an impressive feat of memory and acting, with differing voices and even conversations between characters, all the more impressive given that Jonathan is not a professional actor.

After an interval during which mulled wine and homemade mince pies were served, Jonathan was back in his armchair with a set of Christmas poems and stories. He had done his research and gave us the background to poems such as The Night Before Christmas – originally A Visit from St. Nicholas, and written by the American Clement Clarke Moore in 1822. Not all the offerings were as schmaltzy as this one, not certainly the tale of Jabez Dawes, as told in Ogden Nash’s The Boy who Laughed at Santa Claus, nor the truly funny Twelve Days of Christmas by John Julius Norwich which details the rapidly declining romance of Edward and Emily.

The evening was held to raise money for another Emily, likewise in decline, this time Emily, the 103-year-old organ at St Mark’s which is in desperate need of a complete overhaul. The fundraising was clearly important, but what felt equally important was the community coming together for an evening of entertainment in a village venue that seems well suited to such events. I look forward to more soon.

Stella Wiseman

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Pictures by Lesley Shatwell and David M Moore, courtesy of Farnham Herald