The Fairlight Victims of WW1 and WW2 and our War Memorials – Part 4

An article in four parts by Paul Draper published in Fairlight News in 2018


Part 4 – The Roman Catholic cross and stone at Fairlight and their connection to Pett

In the previous magazines we discussed the victims from both wars and looked at how and where all those men associated with Fairlight are remembered.

Additionally, at Fairlight, to the south of St. Andrew’s church and the Church of England graveyard, there is another smaller section of graveyard. This separate graveyard is dedicated to Roman Catholic burials and in the centre is a large wooden cross with a large inscribed stone at its base. To the casual observer this might mistakenly be taken to be the Fairlight memorial, but it is not.

The cross and stone were not always located here. In fact the Roman Catholic section of graveyard at Fairlight is a fairly recent development. The stone and cross were moved from the top of Chick Hill where they had been located in the grounds of Fairlight Cottage and the Roman Catholic Chapel. The Lucas-Shadwells had converted to Catholicism in 1902 and when they built Fairlight Cottage in 1906, the building contained its own private chapel. A few years later, a separate chapel was erected at the eastern end of the plot, on the edge of Chick Hill. (Fairlight Cottage has since been renamed The Down House, whereas the chapel has not been in service for many years and the property is now known as More Cottage).

Following WW1, Mrs Beatrice Lucas-Shadwell, who lost her husband William Peter to illness in 1915, decided that she should recognise the victims in Pett. Accordingly the cross and stone were erected in her grounds at Chick Hill. Interestingly the names remembered on the stone are mostly a separate list of names from the main Pett stone cross memorial, subsequently erected outside St. Mary and St. Peter’s church. The Lucas-Shadwell inspired stone was unveiled in May 1920 with great pomp and ceremony as reported in the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer. The main Pett stone cross memorial was dedicated later that same year, in December, and contains the comprehensive list of the victims of Pett.

The Lucas-Shadwell stone, now located at Fairlight is inscribed accordingly:-

“To the Glory of God and in loving memory of William Peter Lucas-Shadwell, of Fairlight Hall – died 1915-and in proud and grateful memory of those who gave their lives for their country, 1914-1919: Rev. John Burgiss C.F., John Beeching, Preston Dennett, Owen Fellows, John Harold, Reginald Jenner, Arthur Fleet, Sydney Fleet, James Symons, George Thomson, Edward Watson, Edward Weston, Patients of Cincu Hospital Roumania, Edward J Wolseley.”.

With the exception of Sydney Fleet, none of these people are named on either Pett or Fairlight memorials. Although we have started to research these names, any connection with Pett or Fairlight is unknown. However, we know that Captain William Noel Lucas-Shadwell was in service in many locations, including Roumania and Russia whilst his sister, Violet Belt, was a volunteer nurse in Roumania.

The principle Pett memorial, an engraved stone cross, is located outside St. Mary and St. Peter’s church and lists victims of both wars. Additionally Pett has wooden memorial boards inside the church, also for both wars, whereas there is another wooden plaque inside the Methodist church but for the WW1 victims only. The boundaries between the parishes of Fairlight and Pett have changed many times over the years and accordingly some of the victims were associated with both parishes and, in some cases the same man is remembered more than once on the different memorials eg. Henry Beeching, Albert Cox, Henry Barnes and George Glazier. In fact the Barden family, are generally remembered as being from Pett when in fact they were within the original Fairlight parish boundary at the time of both wars. As a result, I found it constructive to study the victims of both parishes when compiling the detail necessary for these articles.

The End.

If anyone has additional information relating to any of the above or knows of the family or friends of any of the victims can they please contact me (details at the front of the magazine). We know that some descendants still live in the area and we would like to hear from them. For further reading, can I suggest that readers refer to appendix 2 in Haydon Luke’s book ‘Fairlight, a Sussex Village by the Sea’.

By Paul Draper.


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