Winton Memorial Chapel

My wife Janet and I were returning from a caravanning holiday in France in 1997 (via Portsmouth) and we decided to call in at King Alfred’s College (KAC) on the way home.

The college was closed for the vacation but the chapel was open so we went in.  I must admit I was quite surprised because just before I left KAC in 1966 the old chapel’ as we called it had been replaced by a new one and the old chapel had been converted to a reading room (where I spent many hours completing my extended studies’).  The building was now back to a chapel and much of the original art work had been revealed including cleaning up the oak panels round the sides.

Whilst Janet was taking photographs of the tiled wall I began to read the names around the walls carved into the oak panels and it suddenly struck me that these were names of students of the Winchester Diocesan Training College who had been killed during the two World Wars.

Why, in the three years I attended KAC had I not realised this?  More importantly why were we never told this? I felt rather ashamed that no one seemed to know anything about these men who had made the ultimate sacrifice for what they obviously thought was a worthy cause.

Returning home with a list of names I began to research the life of these soldiers before they had perished on the battle fields of Europe and Mesopotamia.

During my time as Head of Lower School at Park High School in Colne, North East Lancashire, I had been taking groups of year 7 pupils to visit the battle fields of Belgium for over 20 years (long before it became a popular visit!) and I had researched our town’s war memorials so that pupils had some local background as well as the text book stuff.  (The population in Colne is very stable and so many of the children had relatives who had served or died during WW1).  I decided to research Winton Chapel names.  I began by trawling through the records Soldiers Died in the Great War Medal Rolls, the wonderful archive in Winchester and anywhere else I could glean the information.  It became a bit of an obsession.  I eventually finished up with a set of handwritten index cards with much information on them giving, in most cases, complete stories of the Wintonians who died, details of the schools they taught at, where they died, medal information etc, even copies of school log books from their previous schools.

My hope was eventually to have this available in the college so that it could be used as a reference work for future students, relatives of the men etc.

I gave the whole lot to the University who said they would make a list, process it into some sort of computer format and use it to update the new history of the college. Sadly, no one now knows the whereabouts of my research.

You can imagine how delighted I was to find that a group of Wintonians had taken up the challenge of continuing the work I had done (because they were able to use some of the information from my original list that had resurfaced).

I hope the material they have produced will be available for many generations to come and will give some background to those names carved on the walls of the chapel.

Lest We Forget’

John Hartley


May 2018