St Mary’s Church, Radcliffe on Trent, has been a focal point for the community since the eighteenth century. At the time of the First World War, the church had a heightened role. Collections at Sunday Services helped to support the war effort. Ten military funerals, conducted by the Reverend Cecil Smith, were held between 1915 and December 1918. Eighteen baptisms took place of babies whose fathers were on active service; two of these men were to lose their lives as a result of the war. Bells rang out from the church on November 11th 1918 and a thanksgiving service was held that day. Twelve months later the bell ringers rang the bells for three and a half hours as a final welcome home to surviving servicemen. Soon after the Armistice the church was the venue for many marriages between ex-servicemen and their fiancées. One of the first weddings, held on December 17th 1918, was between Lt. Douglas Blew Jones, a patient at Lamcote Auxiliary Hospital for Officers, and Violet Birkin. She was the daughter of Lt. Colonel Birkin, former commanding officer of the 1/7th Sherwood Foresters. A guard of honour composed of patients, sisters and nurses from the hospital lined the carpeted approach to the church.
In 1921 the war memorial was unveiled in the churchyard. The ceremony was witnessed by most people in the village, including around two hundred and fifty ex-servicemen. Sixteen men listed on the memorial were baptised at St Mary’s as children.
There is another WW1 memorial inside the church. The Communion Table in the Lady Chapel was donated by Radcliffe branch of the Church of England Men’s Society. The Table has a Lamb of God motif on the front panel above an inscription: ‘The C.E.M.S. Memorial to those who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1918’. The names of servicemen on the external memorial in the churchyard are listed alphabetically on the side panels: William Barratt – Cecil Ingram are inscribed on the southern end of the table and Percy Kitchen – Henry Voce on the northern end.
Communion Table, St Mary’s Church
A special vestry meeting on 15th September 1918 resolved ‘that this meeting approves the erection of a memorial tablet by Mrs. C. W. Pike in memory of her husband the late Charles Wightman Pike’. The plaque is situated in the North aisle from the west end.
Memorial to Charles Wightman Pike, donated by his wife Agnes
St Mary’s Church played a principal role in commemorating the centenary of the Armistice in November 2018. A concert was held at the church on November 8th 2018 featuring Radcliffe Male Voice Choir, the Bridge Singers and seventeen year old flautist Katie Miller. Katie’s exquisitely rendered solo pieces included the Minuet from ‘L’Arlesienne’ by Bizet, ‘Humoresque’ by Dvorak, ‘The Girl with the Flaxen Hair’ by Debussy and a WWI medley. The harmonious Bridge Singers captured the spirit of the times by incorporating pre-war songs by Wood and Vaughan Williams into their repertoire as well as Cole Porter’s upbeat ‘Let’s Do It’ from the 1920s.