Rangeworthy, South Gloucestershire, England: Windows to the souls

At twenty years of age, he was the youngest son of Joseph and Lucy Hull. Educated privately, he had studied at Birmingham Technical College. He was an art student at the Birmingham School of Art before he became a Second Lieutenant in the Worcestershire Regiment after gaining a commission from enlisting in the Birmingham City Battalions where he had spent a year in the ranks. The family had lived at Highfields, Blackwell, Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. He had been in France since September 9th 1916. His name appears on the Blackwell War Memorial in St Catherine’s Church. The Bethlehem Window was given to Rangeworthy Church from their former Churchwarden in memory of his son who died on the 19th October 1916 from wounds received the day before. His name was Joseph Laurence Hull. He was twenty years old and had been in France five weeks when he died from wounds received in action with the Worcestershire Regiment at Gueudecourt. His parents chose to immortalise him in the glass at Rangeworthy Church; a tiny village in South Gloucestershire.

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Dedicated in memory of JOSEPH LAURENCE HULL 2nd Lt Worcestershire Regt who fell in action at GUEUDECOURT FRANCE October 18th 1916 Aged 20 yrs

 

The church sits quiet in its tribute, just before the lane dies out and the views spread out forever. But there Rangeworthy Church lends us another glance into the immortal souls of the war dead of this parish. Behind the alter, another stained glass window shines in the light; reflecting the dancing glow of sun from outside. This time it memorialises the war dead of Rangeworthy. The pain of a village and their ceremony to them.

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Geo. Marklove – Roger Vernon – Harold Bodman – Joseph L. Hull – Philip Whatley – Herbert G. Dando – Henry E. Powell – Ronald J. Eacott – William G. Bedggood – Frank Curtis – Pray for these men who fell in the Great War 1914-1918

 

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The knights speak of fighting, bravery, service. The shields of nationalistic pride and honour. The religious iconography of a people trying to make sense of the loss of so many of their menfolk at the war of 1914-1918.

These stained glass windows of Rangeworthy in Gloucestershire speak of honour and a hope for their memory. But now as I stand in front of them I see only the light that sparkles through them; and maybe that was the point. Eternal light shines upon them; a God or just the world alighting on them. Shining on their efforts, their memory.

For so many of these men, their bodies would perpetually stay on a foreign field. Like Joseph Hull; his grave lies at Dartmoor Cemetery at Becordel-Becourt. It is a cemetery that I know. There a father lies next to his son, George and Robert Lee; they died the same day in the same artillery battery. So Joseph Hull and his stained glass speak for another 762 others who are buried there at Dartmoor Cemetery. Australians, New Zealanders, Brits from across the country.

It has taught me one thing, this Rangeworthy church, to always look for the windows. You never know what they may illuminate.

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