Baptist Memorial, Milton Road.

Baptist churchWokingham Baptist Church Memorial

The local Baptist Church in Milton Road is housed in a beautiful building first opened in 1860. This page provides the names of the members of the church who fought and died during the Great War 1914 – 1919. The biographies of each serviceman can be accessed by clicking on the individual name. There is also a list of dates when the church is mentioned in the Reading Chronicle between 1860 – 1938. The Baptist Church website also provides a short history

Sidney C Ayers             Royal Engineers

Bernard F Knight         Australian Infantry

Albert E Langley          Royal  Berks

T Hallard Mead           Royal Field Artillery

Norman H Smith        2nd London Regt

Richard Smith            5th Royal Berks

Alfred C Smith           2nd Royal Berks

Frederick J Swain     Royal Flying Corps

Clarence H Trill        HMS Ettrick

George Wingfield   RFC

Jim Bell’s transcription of Reading Chronicle provides the following information from 1860 – 1938:

The beautiful Baptist Church, Milton Road, Wokingham.

The beautiful Baptist Church, Milton Road, Wokingham.

August 1860: BAPTIST CHAPEL.

The work of demolition of this building was commenced on Tuesday last, and we hope the weather will prove more favourable for the erection of the new building than we have lately experienced. Mr. Wells of Reading has undertaken the contract. The Town–hall has been kindly given up for the purpose of holding their Sabbath morning and evening services; but although a spacious building it does not appear sufficient to accommodate the number of attendants.

 July 1861: OPENING OF NEW BAPTIST CHAPEL

The increase which soon took place in the Baptist denomination in this town after the commencement of the ministry of the Rev. H.G. Scorey, together with the dilapidated state into which the old chapel had fallen, rendered it necessary to erect a new one. The corner stone was laid towards the close of last year, and the work having been recently completed, the sacred edifice was opened on Thursday last, by a series of services, which were attended by a very large number of persons many of whom came from the neighbouring towns and villages. The new buildings consisted of chapel 41½ feet wide and 51½ feet long, exclusive of lobbies; lecture room 32 feet by 20 feet, and a private vestry for the minister. The chapel is intended to seat 100 persons on the ground floor and 200? [illegible] in a gallery over the entrance lobbies. The design is prepared to admit of side galleries being added when required when required. The style of the building is Italian, freely treated in the general arrangements and combination of the materials of which it is erected, viz. red and white bricks and stone, the white bricks being mostly in bands and arches. Stone being used to protect the projections of cornices, &c., and also as borders in the arches. All the windows have ornamental cast iron sashes glazed with ground glass. The interior of the building is very simple and chased. The baptistery is raised above the general level of the chapel, and is floored over, forming an extensive platform, upon which stands the minister’s desk, a very beautiful piece of workmanship, and design, executed in pitch-pine, French polished. The platform is surmounted by an iron railing, painted in lavender colour and slightly relieved with gold. The floor of the chapel is made to incline from the entrance, by which plan the minister commands a view of the whole of the congregation. The seats are low with plain bench end, and are without doors. The most noticeable feature inside, is the segmental recessed termination behind the minister’s platform with panelled and domed ceiling, designed, we are informed, not only to be ornamental, but useful acoustically. The centre part of the ceiling is painted, and slightly decorated with distempered lines and ornamental scrollwork at the intersections. The chapel is lighted by two elegant gasoliers, suspended from the ceiling, pained lavender colour, and relieved with gold. The whole of the wood-work internally is stained and varnished. The chapel is heated by Mr. Hadem’s patent system with which is comprised a general plan for the ventilation. The grave-yard around has been re-arranged and the front fence removed, and four handsome piers erected in harmony with the style of the building. The total cost of the building, including heating, architect’s commission, &c., will be about £1,600., and considering the size and the very substantial character of the work, it is one of the cheapest structures recently erected in this neighbourhood.

The design was prepared by Messrs. Poulton and Woodman, architects of Reading, and the works have been satisfactorily executed under their constant superintendence, by Mr. John Wells, of the Kings-road, in the same town, whose tender was accepted in a limited competition with the neighbouring builders.

The engagements of the day commenced with a prayer meeting at half-past six in the morning, and another was held from eleven to twelve o’clock. In the afternoon, service took place in the chapel, and there was a large congregation. The Rev. john Aldis, pastor of the Baptist Chapel, Reading, read a portion of the scripture, and offered up an earnest prayer, after which the Rev. W. Landels of the Diorama Chapel, Regent’s Park, preached from the 12th v. of the 3rd ch. of Revelation, and his discourse, to use the words of a speaker at the evening meeting, “was marked by a power of illustration, purity of diction, loftiness of conception, and a sweep of thought which it was seldom the privilege of a congregation to listen to.” The service having been concluded with a prayer by the Rev. T. Welsh, of Reading, the large assemblance adjourned to a spacious marquee, upwards of 100 feet long, to partake of tea, and, despite the rain, which was at the time falling thickly, the company was so numerous that not only were all the seats filled, but every inch of standing ground was also occupied. The three tables which extended the entire length the tent, were loaded with an abundance of cake, &c., and a great number of vases of flowers were placed on them. The marquee itself was very tastefully decorated with evergreen and flowers, by ladies and others, and the gathering was altogether such as had not been witnessed in Wokingham for many years.

August 1917: WOUNDED SOLDIERS REGALED

Some forty to fifty wounded soldiers from the Bear Wood and Easthampstead Road War Hospitals were entertained to tea and a concert on Wednesday in the Baptist Sunday School. The hostesses were the Wesleyan Women’s Meeting, and but for the weather, the function would have been held in Alderman Sale’s garden, Easthampstead Road. A bounteous tea was provided. Mrs. A.J. Bennett (president) and Mrs. Tucker (secretary) carried out the arrangements. Following tea a capital programme was carried out by Misses D. Sale and M. Boshier, Mrs. Trowell, Sergeant Steer, Sergeant Minhinnick, Private Foreman, and others. Miss Wakefield accompanied on the piano. The Rev. T. W. Beck, of reading presided.

 February 1920: NONCONFORMIST BURIAL GROUND

On Monday evening a meeting was held in the Wesleyan Chapel, Rose Street, to receive the reports of various committee meetings with regard to a Nonconformist burial ground for Wokingham.

Alderman P. Sale presided. There were also present the Rev. R.G. Fairbairn (Reading), Mr. Vaughan, Mr. Mead and Mr. W. S. Medcalf.

The chairman spoke of the need for a Nonconformist burial ground which they did not at present possess, the only one being that attached to the Baptist Chapel, and that was now full. Of course Nonconformists could be buried at the ground of the Established Church, but they felt it needful to posses a ground of their own. The matter had been brought to a point by Mr. Mead. A plot of ground had been found at an ideal spot near SkewBridge in the Borough of Wokingham. They had contracted for it, and now wanted to raise £450 to pay for it, and they must all make an effort to do this. Mr. Sale then called upon the Rev. R.G. Fairbairn, whom he looked upon as “the Bishop of Nonconformists.”

The Rev. R.G. Fairbairn remarked that all were united in a common danger. The Church never had as many enemies as at present. One of the reasons for a burial ground of their own was that all could be buried side by side without distinction of class or creed. God smiled at “consecrated” or “unconsecrated” ground; all ground that He had made was sacred. They desired the consecration of God and no other. They had gathered together to make an inspiration for the men and women of tomorrow, so that they could lie where their children could see that they were not ashamed of the religion they had followed.

The chairman said where their dead lay all felt to be something sacred. It was much nicer to have a burial ground of their own and not the worst part of a public cemetery. The piece of ground they were acquiring ran from Reading Road to Oxford Road. It was proposed to lay out the upper portion for immediate use and let the lower part for pasture land and extend when required. Trustees would be required, say 12—three Wesleyan, three Baptist and six other residents. A deposit had been paid, and the balance would be required by March 25th 1920. Over £100 had been promised. The price included the timber, and the plot was nearly five acres.

Saturday Feb 26th 1921: FREE CHURCH BURIAL GROUND

The new Free Church burial ground, Reading Road, Wokingham, was dedicated in the presence of a large congregation on Wednesday afternoon. The short service was conducted by the Rev. T.N. Philips (superintendent minister of the Reading Wesleyan Circuit), and the Rev. C. Colin Dawson (Baptist minister).  Tea was provided in the Town Hall, the Mayor (Ald. P. Sale) presided.

The Mayor said they had felt that this was a bit of work that needed doing and they had set to work and they had worked in harmony and worked successfully, (hear, hear). Many had worked to bring about that result but he thought the first plot should be given to Mr. Mead, (applause). Mr C.W. Marks had placed his professional skill at their disposal. Mr. Medcalf had been treasurer and Mr. J.H. Elliston Clifton had drawn up the trust deed, free gratis and for nothing. (applause).

Amongst a host of others he could mention, Messrs. Lush, Welch, Hopkins, Bennett, Prouton, Misses Kedge, Jeffries and Tucker, and also the assistance received that day from the Rev. R.G. Fairbairn and the Rev. T.N. Phillipson

A vote of thanks to the ladies who prepared and served tea was passed on [illegible] motion of Mr. W.P. Tucker

The Mayor said that it was desired to sell the frontage to Oxford Road for building [illegible].

The deed was then signed, the trustees being: the Mayor and Messrs. A.J Bennett, T.H. Bennett, H.E. Bennett, Cooper, S. Brant, Sidney Brown, F.F. Burl[illegible], George Ford, John Hopkins, F.E. Hall, W.G. Jeffries, W. Mead, C.W. Marks, W.S. Medcalf, A. Prouten, .W.R. Tucker and T.M. Welch.

The plot of ground is over three acres in extent and is situated between the Reading and Oxford Roads.

Sat 16th Feb 1924: WOKINGHAM WAR MEMORIAL

“Lest We Forget”

SIR DOVETON STURDEE’S SPEECH

 In clear black lettering and enclosed in panelling of oak are inscribed the names of the men of Wokingham who, in response to the call of humanity, fought and died. No ranks or corps are recorded, for in the magnitude of their sacrifice all were equal, and the list, two hundred and seventeen in all, is striking testimony of the part played by the Borough of Wokingham in the greatest war in history. The unveiling of the memorial tablet on Sunday afternoon marks the completion of the town’s memorial scheme which included the acquisition and converting of a building in Denmark Street for the use of the Wokingham Orthopaedic Clinic and, despite the delay and the many suggestions considered, the project has received general approbation in that not only does it fittingly perpetuate the memory of the fallen, but serves also the living. The memorial tablet is erected in the annexe of the Town Hall and is carried out in handsomely carved oak, the emblem of the sword of sacrifice being inlaid on either side. It bears the inscription:–

IN GLORIOUS MEMORY. 1914-1919.

‘To the honour of the men of Wokingham, who gave their lives in the Great War. The Orthopaedic Clinic Buildings in Denmark Street were also acquired by the town as a grateful tribute to their gallant memory, and to the untiring devotion of Henry Charles Mylne, Mayor 1913-19. Died October 21, 1919.’

The names are inscribed in black ornate lettering on white panels. The memorial was designed by Mr. Vincent Craig.

The unveiling ceremony was performed by Admiral of the Fleet, Sir F.C. Doveton Sturdee, Bart., G.C.B., K.C.M.G., who was the commander in the famous action off the Falkland Isles, 1914, and received his K.C. M.G. for the Battle of Jutland Bay.

Seats were reserved for the relatives of the fallen, of whom there was a large number present. Admiral Sturdee was accompanied by Lady Sturdee, and there were at the hall the Rev. H.W. Blackburne, D.S.O., M.C. (assistant chaplain general during the war), Lady Cayley, the Mayor of Wokingham (Admiral J.B. Eustace), the Rev. B. Long, the Rev. Martin Harvey, Aldermen M. Blake and P. Sale. Councillors F.E. Chapman, G.M.E. Fryer, J.G. Jefferies, W.J. Cheeseman, A.E. Priest, F.J. Barratt, E.W. Reeves and W.S. Medcalfe, Mr. J.H. Elliston Clifton (Town Clerk) and Mr. C.W. Marks (Borough Surveyor).

The Mayor stated that they were gathered there to pay their tribute of respect to those gallant men who gave their lives for their King and Empire during the Great War. The Town Council had given the best position on the walls of the Town Hall for the memorial tablet. Where all could see the names of those they loved, upon the roll of honour. Mr. Sale on whose shoulders rested much of the organisation, would make a statement on the subject.

The History of the Memorial

   Mr. Sale said it was a source of great satisfaction to him that he was allowed to take part in the ceremony to bring to completion the project which he had much at heart. He would always have some little pride in bearing a part in helping to bring it to a successful conclusion. There was almost an apology due for the lateness of the date on which the memorial was to be unveiled. They were now in the tenth year since the commencement of the Great War, and it was almost six years since the Armistice. The explanation was that when their late honoured and revered Mayor, Mr. H.C. Mylne, whose labours throughout the war undoubtedly shortened his days, called a public meeting to consider what form the memorial should take, counsels were divided. Some said “Let us have nothing but a monumental memorial”; others said “Let us have something is of practical utility to the living.” That resulted in the delay of the whole scheme, and meanwhile other memorials were started and carried out. Memorial were erected in the ParishChurch, St. Paul’s, the Baptist and Wesleyan Churches and the Drill Hall. There should, however, be some memorial for the men of Wokingham as such, belonging to no section or no one body, but belonging to them all—men of Wokingham. Consequently in 1921 they began again, and this time plans were decided upon. The work of the Orthopaedic Clinic had been started, and had appealed to the imaginations of the people of Wokingham and to their hearts in a manner surpassed in regard to no other object. The ideal, the cure of affliction and turning helpless cripples into useful members of society appealed to everyone, and consequently it was decided to raise a fund to purchase a present to the Clinic a building in which that work could be carried on, and at the same time to erect a memorial to those who fell in the war. Notwithstanding the four or five other memorials which had been carried out, the response to their appeal was, on the whole, good. They had a total amount given in subscriptions of £567, subscriptions varying from £50 down to 1d. but probably those small sums entailed an equality of sacrifice with the larger amounts. So the Clinic building was purchased at a cost of £425 and handed over to the Clinic Committee and the work was being successfully carried out. Then they all set about the present memorial, which, he thought they would agree was a worthy specimen of the craftsmanship of Wokingham men. The money collected was sufficient, and they had a small balance in hand. Willingly, if they could, would they have included the name of every one who gave his services, but space would not allow. They hoped that when future generations read the inscription on the Clinic building and looked at the list of names it would inspire them with a passion for service and sacrifice. If that was not the effect then their efforts would have been in vain. The only hope for the future was that they would, as members of one body be willing to serve not only for their own good, but for the good of the whole community.

The Mayor, introducing Sir Doveton Sturdee, said the distinguished officer who had honoured them with his presence that day had held many high positions by his ability, and had done great service during the war.

March 1926 YOUNG PEOPLE’S CONCERT

With a view to assisting the organ renovation fund, the Young People’s fellowship of Milton Road Baptist Church carried through an interesting programme at the Milton Road Schoolroom on Thursday evening last week. The programme included dainty dances by Miss Denton and Miss M. Denton, both pupils of Miss Vera White, of Reading. Miss Mary Jackson ably accompanying at the piano. All dances were given with much grace and artistic feeling. Miss Jackson opened the concert with a piano solo, a pastoral from “Nell Gwynn” (Edward German); Mrs. Denton sang “Give and Take” in her usual accomplished style; Miss Shearn sang sweetly “The Market” and “The Haven of Rest called Home”; Miss N. Butler gave much pleasure with recitations. Master Alan Griffith played two violin solos in good style, Mr. A.J. Griffith accompanying at the piano.

1935 Sat 19th Jan BAPTIST SUNDAY SCHOOL TREAT

The scholars of the Baptist Sunday School were regaled at their winter treat in the school room, Milton Road, on Wednesday. A beautiful tea was served and fancy caps were distributed. The Pastor and Mrs. Guyton, Mr. W. Foster (superintendent), and the teachers were present. Games (organised by Mr. Billen), items given by Miss Knight’s class, and an interesting turn by Mr. A. Oakley, entertainer, occuoied the evening.

1938: DEATH OF MRS. W.T. MARTIN

Widespread sympathy is felt for Alderman W.T. Martin in the death of his wife, Mrs. Mary Ann Emma Martin, which occurred on Tuesday at a Reading nursing home. She had been ailing for some time and passed away at the age of 66.

Mr. and Mrs. Martin were married on June 6th 1892, at the Baptist Chapel, Wokingham. Mr. Martin started his business at the age of 16, and his wife-to-be, while still at school, was his constant and ready helper. In his public career and activities she was his inspiration. In the four years of his Mayorality of Wokingham, 1907, 1912, 1913 and 1920, Mrs. Martin won golden opinions as social hostess. Quiet and unobtrusive, from her writing desk she was the working power behind the scenes in the 14 years’ efforts of the family on behalf of the Wokingham Clinic, during which time she arranged and brought to success a long series of efforts for that institution.

During the war Mrs. Martin’s care was for the children, for whom three times weekly she ran soup-kitchens. This and much kind thought was given to the soldiers billeted in the district, were at her own initiative.

In municipal matters, one of her treasured possessions was a spade, inscribed: “This spade was used by Mrs. W.T. Martin as Mayoress to cut the first sod in the Borough Housing Scheme, July 1920.” Another spade recorded that Mrs. Martin “planted a tree and gave a seat round it in the New Recreation Ground, Barkham Road.” The tree was given by a friend. Very many patrons of the swimming pool will remember their talks with Mrs. Martin. In addition to her husband, Mrs. Martin leaves her son, Mr. Cathrow Martin, and her daughter, Mrs. Edna Girdler, to mourn her loss.

The funeral will be at St. Paul’s, Wokingham, today (Saturday), at 2.30 p.m.

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