John Dearing, the author of In Grateful Memory, has lived in Katesgrove for over 39 years. This recently published and very readable booklet about the monuments and inscriptions in St Mary’s Episcopal Chapel on Castle Street features many Katesgrovians of times gone by.
Plaques and monuments in the church commemorate the involvement of Reading people in the Boer War, the First and Second World Wars as well as important personalities in the life of the church.
Lance Corporal William Cross from Elgar Road was killed in action during the Boer War at the Battle of Bethlehem in July 1900. In civilian life, he had been a postman and had enlisted in the Imperial Yeomanry in January 1900. The County of Berkshire erected a commemorative brass plaque on the wall of St Mary’s.
The chapel has a memorial to those who served and died in the First World War. This commemorates 26 congregation members and 15 members of the 7th Reading Company of the Boys’ Brigade attached to the chapel.
Major Colin Napier Buchanan-Dunlop is the most highly ranked officer with a memorial. He was killed at Vermelles in 1915 and came from a military family. His father Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Donald Buchanan-Dunlop and his mother Sabina lived at Whitley Rise, off Basingtoke Road.
Nineteen year old Signaller George Alexander Wren, a private, was killed on 17 October 1918 near the Belgian border. His parents lived at 27 Elgar Road, and he had been a member of the Boys Brigade.
In Grateful Memory includes potted biographies of the servicemen and their families such as Private George Edward Thatcher (1879-1916), who was a tin solderer in civilian life. He had been baptised at the chapel on 18 January 1884 together with his brothers Albert and Alfred.
The only name recorded from the Second World War is James Benjamin Thomas O’Neill, who was serving with the RAF Volunteer Reserve when he died in 1941. He may have been the brother-in-law of Mrs Ethel O’Neill who was a lifelong member of the congregation.
Two captains of the 7th Reading Company of the Boys Brigade have plaques: Ernest (Bill) Appleby (1899-1984) and Dennis Raymond Richmond (1920-1998).
St Mary’s chapel also records the important gifts and bequests that paid for renovations and refurbishments. Even the casual visitor cannot help noticing the the stained glass window with the text “we preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 23) that was the gift of Caroline Young in 1902.
The graves of the father-in-law and wife of Rev James Sherman are the chapel’s earliest monuments. These graves originally lay outside in a small churchyard and were not disturbed when the classical portico was built in 1840; they are now in the vestibule. Sherman Road in Katesgrove may have been named after James Sherman.
A fine wall tablet records the death from cholera in India in 1865 of two of the children of Rev George Ibberson Tubbs. Lieutenant Charles Malan Tubbs and his sister Mary Ellen Elizabeth, who was married to Lieutenant Reeves, died within a week of one another and were both buried at the English Cemetery in Surat. The congregation of the chapel presented the memorial.
In Grateful Memory costs £2 can be purchased at St Mary’s Castle Street. The church is open to visitors every Thursday from 10am to 2pm, 10am to 1pm on Fridays and the first Saturday morning each month.