VILLAGERS across the Midhurst and Petworth area held their own commemoration events this week as the world marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the first world war.
Exhibitions opened remembering those who left for war and never returned and whose names appear on village war memorials across the area.
There were commemoration services on Sunday and in Easebourne on Monday evening townspeople gathered at 10pm to take part in the Royal British legion’s national ‘lights out’ tribute.
Cocking remembered the 15 villagers who died in the war with a display of war memorabilia.
A service of commemoration was held at St Catherine’s Church on Sunday and afterwards villagers gathered at the war memorial to lay sprigs of rosemary for remembrance.
There was a tree-planting ceremony on the recreation green attended by the niece of war hero Charles Ryan, Sheila Hopkins.
Villagers then gathered for a memorial tea in the village hall.
At Tillington the research of Dr Trevor Purnell went on show in All Hallow’s Church.
Dr Purnell has chronicled the lives and war service of 20 soldiers from the parish who died in the war.
The exhibition in the church will be on show until November 11.
At Duncton, a spectacular display of poppies commemorates those who died. It was planted by villagers earlier this year and has been carefully nurtured throughout the long, hot summer.
On Monday there was a showing of War Horse followed by a ploughman’s supper and a torchlight procession to Holy Trinity Church for a candlelit service, with the final candles being blown out at 11pm.
A service was held at St. Mary the Virgin Church in Petworth on Sunday, led by the priests and leaders of the four church congregations of Petworth, supported by a choir made up from all the churches and beyond. Some 200 people attended, and sprigs of rosemary and white carnations were laid on the war memorial after the service. Lessons and poetry were read by representatives of the community and congregations, as well as a historical reflection composed by Lord Egremont.
After the Last Post had been sounded using a bugle retrieved from a dead German soldier on the battlefield, representatives of the Royal British Legion read out the Roll of Honour, numbering 75 Petworth men killed in action.
A collection in aid of the Soldiers Sailors and Air Force Families Association raised £543.32.
A service was held in St Margaret’s Church, Fernhurst just a few hours less than 100 years to the minute that war was declared against Germany in 1914.
Led by Canon Gerry Parrott, the congregation prayed for all those both at home and at the front who were affected by war,
At St Peter’s Church in Lynchmere and St Paul’s in Camelsdale, services started at 10pm when lights were turned off all over the country.
The Orchard Club at the Weycentre held a commemorative lunch as part of its wine and dine series and more than 50 members and guests enjoyed the event.
Shulbrede Priory at Lynchmere has been the source of information for a fascinating new book. A hundred years ago Arthur Ponsonby who lived at the Priory and is grandfather of Laura Ponsonby and Kate Russell who live there now, was arguing furiously but ineffectively, for peace rather than war for Britain.
A Fatal Fortnight, Arthur Ponsonby and the fight for British Neutrality in 1914 by Duncan Marlor looks at forgotten facts on how he went against the prevailing feelings that Britain should be leading the charge against Germany.