For many years, two Commonwealth War Graves Commission graves have been given pride of place in St John’s Churchyard in Fernham. However, there has never been a proper war memorial to all 10 villagers killed in the First World War.
But not for much longer as a purpose-designed war memorial will be unveiled by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Mr Brian Buchan, on Sunday, 20 March 2022.
The war memorial is made of iron and has been designed to rust. Into the steel plate, there are the names of the 10 Fallen, a cut out of a picture of a WW1 soldier with arms reversed in the “There But Not There” style, and the inscription “When you go home tell them of us, for your tomorrow we gave our today.”
Because the inscriptions have been cut from steel, the names, words, and figure can be seen against the backdrop of the church wall, giving it texture and meaning.
The plate was designed by Juicy Designs. The designers, Sarah and Dale, lived in the village and have just recently moved to Great Coxwell.
Fernham is a very pleasant village in the heart of the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside, about 2 miles south of Faringdon in the Vale of White Horse, with 79 houses, 3 farms, a fantastic pub and a church.
The church - St John’s Church - was constructed in 1868, a gift from a local landowner, Thomas Hughes. It is a ‘Chapel of Ease’ so that Fernham villagers could go to church without the long walk to and from St Mary’s in Longcot.
In 2004 it was decided to convert the church into a combined village hall and church, and funding from the Big Lottery Fund started the long process of getting grants.
By 2009 the whole inside had been stripped out, new oak flooring, gas-fired heating and economic lighting installed, and a new roof put onto the building.
The cost was close to £500,000, and HRH Earl of Wessex opened the “new” building on 10 June 2010. It was a very successful project because it involved many villagers as well as churchgoers and has been used as a model of how to use old churches for community benefit.
A good turnout from the village is expected for the unveiling, and a Colour Party from the Royal British Legion will be present.