1991 was the 400th anniversary of St. John the Baptist, Hellidon. To mark the occasion the village held a Festival and this included a History of Hellidon in Flowers in the Church. One window deserved special attention: the window dedicated to the memory and courage of four men of Hellidon who had gone to the First World War and never returned. But who were they? The many changes in the village the movement away of families from the land and other rural occupations meant there were few to remember the events of some 70 years ago. At first all we knew were the words on the window:
WILLIAM THOMAS HEDGES
JAMES HENRY HEDGES
FREDERICK W. MARLOW WELLS
JOHN JAMES BUCHANAN »
IN THANKSGIVING TO GOD FOR VICTORY AND PEACE AND IN GLORIOUS MEMORY OF THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR OTHERS.
The Northampton Central Library Local History Section were able to find a report in the Northampton Herald of December 17th, 1920 describing the service of dedication and unveiling of the window.
WAR MEMORIAL WINDOW
UNVEILED AT HELIDON CHURCH.
Recently the parishioners and their friends at Catesby have placed a memorial window in the nave of Helidon Church. The window illustrates on the left hand light two figures clad in armour, one, the youthful St. George Ohampion of Christendom, martyr, and Patron Saint of England holding aloft his banner, whilst with his foot he crushes the. neck of the Dragon. At his side stands St. Alban with sword and cross, the proto martyr of England. In the right hand light four soldiers in armour are represented with the portrait heads of the four brave men whom Helidon has iost. At their feet is a. roll which bears the inscription : In thanksgiving to God for Victory and Peace, and in glorious memory of William Thomas Hedges, James Henry Hedges, Frederick Wm. Marlow Wells, John James Buchanan, who gave their lives for us.” The figures in both lights are surrounded by • floral background, and across the whole window runs a. scroll with the words ” The noble army of martyrs praise Thee.” In the tracery surrounding the figures are depicted the Crown and Rose, and on either side of these the dates 1914 and 1918.
The Church clock, which replaces the old one, is the gift of the Squire of Catesbv and is in memory of his mother, Amy Eleanor (Maude) Attenborouph. On Sunday last there was a large congregation, when the window and clock were dedicated. The hymn “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones,” was sung in procession, the processional cross being carried by Mr. George Attenborough, who wore his gown and hood. The lessons were read by Capt. Fraser. After the singing of St. George’s hymn, the Vicar and Churchwardens, preceded by the cross, went to the window, and General Vaughn, of Spring Hill, Rugby, unveiled it and gave an address in which he emphasised the value of the. British soldier, and urged that everything possible should be done for ex-Service men. The Vicar .then read the office of Dedication, after which “O Valiant Hearts,” was sung. The Last Post came next, then ” God Save the King,” and last the Reveille— two buglers from Weedon sounded the calls. The ex-Service men provided a handsome wreath of red flowers; and it was laid upon the window sill; to it was attached a card with the words ” To our Comrades—In Remembrance.”
A move was then made to the tower, and Mrs. Attenborough, by cutting a ribbon, started the clock. The Vicar said a dedicating prayer, and in the name of the parishioners thanked the donor of the dock, and the last verse of “O Paradise,” was sung. The Choir. with Mr. C. Parkes, of Priors Hardwick, at the organ, sang beautifully.
It was touching to see a wreath of laurel and white flowers inscribed “-To our glorious four,” lying in the porch.
The window is unique in that, contrary to normal church practice, it has actual portraits of the men. It is very probable that no faculty was raised for the window, and also its pair, one of thankfulness for the safe return of the other men, .of the village.
WILLIAM THOMAS HEDGES & JAMES HENRY HEDGES
Two of the men in the window were brothers and we know, from the Parish records, came from a large family. The father was Gallio Thomas Hedges, first described as a labourer and later an ironstone labourer, who no doubt worked in the quarry that existed near the village at that time. He and his wife Annie had the following children:
Date of christening
1835 July 19 Agnes
1887 August 2 William Thomas
1889 July 20 Richard Henry
1890 Oct. 3 Richard Henry (Did the first Richard Henry die and the name passed to the next born?)
1891 May 30 Lizzie Emily
1893 May 18 James Henry
1895 July 2 Margaret May
1899 May 14 Constance Annie
1900 July 22 Frederick Powell
1905 Aug 27 Florence Rose
Anne was buried on Nov. 25th 1918 aged 57.
Both the Hedges sons served with the Northamptonshire Regiment, William with the 2nd Battalion and James with the 7th. William was killed/in the Ypres salient at the Battle of Aubers Bridge. The action is described in the Regimental History in 1932
William Thomas Hedges has no known grave but his name .is recorded among the 54,896 names of men who died in the Ypres -Salient between 1914 and August 15,1917 on the Menin Gate, a mass’ive edifice at one of the entrances to the old city of Ypres. The memorial was dedicated on July 24th, 1927 and every evening since, except for the period of the German occupation from May 20, 1940 to Sep. 6, 1944 the traffic is stopped and the Last Post is sounded.
William’s brother James Henry hedges was also killed in the Ypres Salient, during the Third Battle of Ypres. /Here insert the War Diary WO 95/2218
Like his brother William, James Henry Hedges has no known grave.
His name is on Panel 7 of the Ploegsteert Memorial with others from his Regiment. Ploegsteert (known as Plug Street to the men) was a small town badly damaged during the war being so close to the front.
Near it at “Hyde Park Corner” is the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing and the Berks Corner Cemetery Extension.
Gallio, the father of William and James remarried after Annie’s death.
On Jan. 27th, 1926 he married Alice Jane, a widow of 40 (he was then 62) and baptisms are recorded of two daughters:
1926 Aug. 15 Grace
1927 Nov. 13 iris Selina
So this very large family numbered eventually 12 children, 2 sons being killed in the war, and the name Richard Henry possibly being passed to the next born in 1890. The first born was in 1885 and the last in 1927, a span of 42 years.
FREDERICK W. MARLOW WELLS. 188926 of the 6th Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment, the third of the Helidon men in the window was killed in action in the St. Elio area of the Ypres Salient on ‘Feb. 16th, , 1916 * at the age of 21 and is buried in Plot 1, Row B, Grave 21 of the Bedford House Cemetery. This cemetery (some 3 miles from Ypres) is one of the largest in the Ypres Salient and has plots of 1939-45 graves as well as those of the First World War. We know from a letter from the Commonwealth War Graves that Frederick was the son of Frederick and Elizabeth Wells. There is no record of his parents’ marriage or Frederick’s baptism in the Parish Records, but on Aug.6th, 1887 there is mention of the baptism of a daughter Lizzie of Frederick and Elizabeth Wells of West Ham, London, and the father is described as a Police Officer.
The name Wells occurs much in Helidon history. In 1849 there was a John Wells, a shoemaker and an S.Wells, another shoemaker and also a shopkeeper. There were Wells also at Catesby. There are Royal connections too for at Helidon in 1893 there is recorded the marriage of May Jane Wells, daughter of a William Wells who married on April 25th William Brunsdon of West Newton, Helidon, Kennel Manager to the Prince of Wales.
The name Marlow Wells occurs again with the baptism of twins in 1924 Audrey Francis and John Henry Marlow, the children of Herbert Henry Wells (labourer) and Jessie Violet. In 1947 John Henry Marlow Wells was a Godfather at Helidon Church at the christening of Warwick Nicholas John Arnold, the son of Fl. Lt. Stanley Arnold and his wife Violet.Frederick William Marlow Wells was killed at the third Battle of Ypres.