Golden tribute to South Yorkshire's war dead given go-ahead after lengthy dispute

The war memorial at St Jude's Church in Hexthorpe, Doncaster
The war memorial at St Jude's Church in Hexthorpe, Doncaster

A golden tribute to the war dead of a South Yorkshire village can finally go ahead following a lengthy church dispute.

Parishioners of St Jude's Church in Hexthorpe, Doncaster, first sought permission in 2016 to refurbish the war memorial there using gold leaf to highlight the names of those honoured.

The names of the war dead honoured on the war memorial will soon be highlighted with gold leaf

The names of the war dead honoured on the war memorial will soon be highlighted with gold leaf

The Diocese of Sheffield's Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) initially opposed plans to gild the lettering or paint it white, suggesting this could appear 'over-bearing'.

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But the Church of England's Consistory Court has now ruled a golden sheen can be applied to honour the sacrifice made by villagers during the two world wars.

Handing down her judgment, Judge Sarah Singleton QC, chancellor of the Diocese of Sheffield, described the memorial in the churchyard as the 'embodiment of the local community's grief' which she said had been 'created and installed by the local community for the local community'.

"The present day community believes that the memorial should once again incorporate the names of the fallen from both wars so that they are clearly legible for at least the next couple of generations," she wrote.

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"It is my determination that the strongly and sincerely held beliefs of the Parish Church Council in this regard can be and should be respected."

The church building was completed in 1894 and the memorial was dedicated in May 1921, with the cost of its design and construction having been raised from public donations.

The names of the fallen from Second World War were added in 1949.

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Judge Singleton described how a 'poignant' photograph showing a 'movingly large number of people' at the original dedication ceremony showed its importance to villages as a 'focused location to mark their loss'.

She said it was clear from photos of the day that the names 'clearly stood out', though it was hard to tell from a black-and-white image whether the lettering had been white or gold at the time.

Either way, she said parishioners were seeking to go no further in terms of the visibility of the names than had been the case when they were first engraved.

Although she overruled the advisory committee's recommendations on this occasion, she praised them as 'a body of people of great collective expertise and wisdom'.

The church council has been awarded a grant from the War Memorials Trust for a large proportion of the cost of the proposed refurbishment, with the church seeking donations from parishioners to cover the outstanding amount.

Steve Berry, secretary of the church council, told how he was delighted to finally get the go-ahead for the work some 18 months after beginning the project to restore the memorial, which is inscribed with more than 200 names.

He said it is hoped the renovations will now begin this September and be completed in time for Remembrance Day this November, which will mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.