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Cornish Connections

1st of November 2014

Whilst on holiday in Cornwall at the end of September, we made two visits which immediately connected us with St Paul’s Church in Chipperfield. We visited Truro Cathedral which, when built in the 1880s, was the first new cathedral to be built in the country for six hundred years. Of special interest to me, a Chipperfield resident, was the magnificent, elaborately carved, stone reredos which stands behind the chancel altar. It was the work of Nathaniel Hitch, who also carved the oak choir stalls in St Paul’s, Chipperfield, in 1915 and the oak-panelled war memorial in 1927. After his retirement, his son, John Oliver Brook Hitch, designed the carved reredos which was installed in our church in 1939.

Our next port of call, so to speak, was to visit St Merryn, near Padstow, on the north Cornish Coast, where a search of the churchyard revealed the grave of John Bell of Bucks Hill House.The 18 year old naval cadet lost his life when he joined his first ship, HMS Warwick, in 1944. The ship was hit by a torpedo which blew up the fuel tanks. Aircraft from the Fleet Air Arm base at St Merryn went to the rescue but, sadly, John died at the rescue station the next day. He was buried in a war grave in the churchyard which is well cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. John Bell is remembered in the stained glass window on the north side of the altar at St Paul’s, Chipperfield, and a plaque records the event of his tragic death. His photograph and details of his life can be found on pages 55 and 56 in the recent publication ‘Chipperfield in the Second World War’.
Mary Nobbs

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