Unexpected find brings D Day commemorations to life in Horsmonden

First published on: 6th June 2024

Photo credit: The re-disovered fragment of stained-glass found at St Margaret's Horsmonden (Credit:Roger Hulbert)

A previously undiscovered fragment of stained-glass from the bombed-out windows of St Margaret’s Church, Horsmonden, has brought a poignant reminder of when the Second World War came to the village.

It's also helped to form part of the church’s commemorations of the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.

When parishioner Angie Jenkins was helping prepare the church for Christmas in 2022, she was drawn to an old chest that stood by the porch.

Usually covered by a flower arrangement, that day, the chest was open. Angie decided to look through, thinking a clear-out might be in order.

She recalls:

“We started to empty it, pulling out dishevelled tinsel, broken baubles, remnants of candles, lights, old leaflets, straw.

“At the very bottom was a large flat layer of brown paper and cardboard which I pulled out thinking was the roof of a homemade Christmas stable which hadn’t seen the light of day for decades.”

Thinking nothing of it, the parcel was sent down to the bonfire. Minutes later, however, it was returned. 

The dirt had been wiped off the paper package, and on it was taped a piece of card with the words, ‘Glass from top of a window. Much damaged. Flying bomb. Keep flat.’ written upon it.

Photo: Close-up of the stained-glass window fragment.

Angie says she stared speechless as she realised it was in her father’s handwriting, Cyril Favell, a local farmer who had died in 1979. 

She says:

“It was like a personal message from him to me after 43 years,”

“I took the package home and carefully unwrapped what my father had packaged up after the war. There were layers of newspaper and layers of wallpaper which I recognised from my childhood.”

All the layers were there to protect a beautiful, fractured remnant of one of the church’s Victorian stained-glass windows which had been blown out in 1944 when a V1 flying bomb (or doodlebug) had landed on the northeast side of the churchyard, destroying all the windows on that side of the church.

Several enquiries of professional glass restorers later, and it was evident a full restoration was out of the question. However, luckily, Angie’s husband stepped in.

Steve, who has been quietly honing his woodworking skills in retirement got to work creating a beautiful window frame made out of local ash to encase the fragile glass fragments.

Photo: The special commemoration service takes place at St Margaret's, Horsmonden (Credit: Granville Davies)

At a special service on 1 June 2024, the window fragment was officially unveiled and dedicated, marking 80 years since the church was impacted by the bomb.

Alongside this, the Horsmonden Nostalgia Group made a major contribution by creating an extensive display of photos, stories and memorabilia in the church, describing the activities and memories of relatives of Horsmonden residents who were part of the D-Day landings.

During the service, speakers from across the community gave readings, sang hymns, and shared a narrative - written by Churchwarden Roger Marsh - of the national Second World War story, threaded through with accounts of the village’s experience of the war, including a recollection of the day a Spitfire crashed in a hop field on the edge of Horsmonden itself.

Photo: D-Day display at St Margaret's Church, Horsmonden (Credit: Granville Davies)

Threaded throughout, were points of reflection on the power of prayer at key moments in the nation's survival and in the progress of the war. 

For those present, it was a fitting and moving tribute to all who had given their lives during the war, and the stained-glass fragment now stands in front of the window which replaced it, as an ongoing memorial.

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