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War Memorial Chapel, Charterhouse School, 1927

"One of the most interesting, and perhaps the most beautiful, of War Memorials erected in this country".[1]

The Archbishop of Canterbury laid the foundation stone of the memorial chapel in 1922; it was to be erected to the honour of the former Charterhouse pupils who had fallen during the First World War. A sealed jar was placed beneath the stone, containing the full list of the Carthusians who served in the war, together with a copy of the latest school and other lists. The ceremony was held on the same day that the Carthusians, both former pupils and those still at the school, played their annual cricket match[2].

The chapel was designed by Gilbert Scott, R.A. elect and was to cost £58,000. When it was first built it was reported that the headmaster, Mr Frank Fletcher, and the committee who approved the commission had been inspired by Scott's design for Liverpool Cathedral[3]. The chapel's architecture has been described as being of the Crusader type, recalling the churches which the Crusaders built in the Holy Land[2].

The stone it was built from was quarried in the school grounds[4] but, contrary to local practice, "it was dressed smooth with a chisel, instead of a hammer". It was thought this would retain the colour of the stone as the chisel work resulted in a more even surface[1]. There is a concrete filling between the brick inner wall and the outer stone; the inner brickwork was covered with plaster made from callow rock lime and Farnham sand to produce a natural colour. The work was "carried out through the school workshop under the direction of its foreman, A. Boxall"[1]. The cost suggested in 1926 was exceeded at the memorial cost rather more than £90,000[1].

The dedication took place on 18 June 1927, the anniversary day of the school had moved to Godalming in 1872, and the service was attended by eight bishops and almost 1,000 Old Carthusians as well as the relatives of the deceased. Not everyone could get into the chapel for the service but it was relayed to those outside.

Screens near the west end bore the names of 686 who had lost their lives, out of the 3,000 Carthusians who went to war[4]. One of those commemorated is Captain Noel Jardine Exell (1891-1915) of the 9th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps. He was a former boarder in Bodeites and before the War he had been attached to the Special Reserve of Officers. He died of wounds at Ypres on 31 Jul 1915, mortally wounded after rescuing a wounded officer and attempting to assist a wounded Rifleman[5].

The interior of the Chapel, 1927.

After the Second World War the memorial was extended. Amongst the second group of names was that of Major-General Orde Charles Wingate. On 11 March 1951 Vice-Admiral Earl Mountbatten unveiled a tablet in the chapel in Wingate's memory, subscribed for by officers and men who served under him in Burma. Mountbatten paid tribute to Wingate and his extraordinary skill in jungle warfare. He also read out a message from Mr Churchill during the service. Churchill had written: "It seems fitting that this memorial tablet to one of the most brilliant and courageous figures of the war should have been at Charterhouse, his school, where it will stir and inspire future generations of young men to defend the cause of freedom, for which he so heroically fought and died"[6].

1. "Memorial Chapel, Charterhouse". [Valentine's] Published by Field Bros., 24 High Street, Godalming, No.201351 in 1927. Not posted.
2. "Charterhouse, Memorial Chapel, East". Published by F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate in 1927, No.79681. Printed in England. Not used.
Postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Jameson, E. M. (1937) "Charterhouse". Blackie & Son Limited, London and Glasgow. Jameson paid tribute to the initiative and enterprise of Frank Fletcher.

[2] "Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer", 20 June 1922.

[3] "Hull Daily Mail", 9 July 1926.

[4] "The Times", Monday, 20 Jun, 1927.

[5] "Western Times", 11 August 1915. His father was Rev. John Samuel Exell of Stoke Fleming, Dartmouth. There is more about the Exell surname, although not of this casualty.

[6] "Dundee Courier," 12 March 1951. Churchill was then leader of the Opposition, becoming Prime Minister for the second time on 21 Oct 1951.

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