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Community launch for ‘Home of our Delight’ project

Rook Lane Arts Trust held its first community event for potential volunteers at Mells Barn recently, to encourage local people to get involved.

A good number of people came to learn more about project and the impact of the First World War on Mells and surrounding villages. Guests included Colin Kerr from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Beryl Lemon from St Louis, Missouri.

Beryl brought greetings from the last member of the Horner family; John Michael Horner, now Father Timothy, a Benedictine monk who founded St Louis Priory in Missouri where Beryl taught French.

‘Home of our Delight’ aims to research the men, and their families, remembered on the Mells war memorial.

Chair of trustees, Martin Bax said, “Thanks to recent press coverage, we have already had several local people come forward with fascinating information about some of the names listed, including two sets of brothers; Tom and Charlie King, and Edward and Herbert Vranch.

The project is also researching stories and individuals behind the commissioning of the memorials held in Mells, which due to the artistic connections of Frances Horner in the early 20th century, include Edwin Lutyens, Eric Gill and R.J. Munnings.

“We are really keen to hear from anybody who would like to get involved in the detective work that a project like this needs,” says project coordinator Jo Plimmer. “This might be reading newspapers of the time, deciphering letters and journals or researching a particular soldier.”

Frome College students will be helping this research through a new afterschool history club running this term on Tuesdays until November.

The project research will culminate in an exhibition, web archive and Mells walking trail on the centenary of the death of three of the men remembered on the memorial at Flers/Courcelette (at the Somme) in September 1916.

Home of our Delight is coordinated by Rook Lane Arts Trust, and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. To find out more, or to get involved, visit www.homeofourdelight.org or call 07746 576550.

Pictured: (left to right) Sarah Godsill (volunteer), Martin Bax (chairman Rook Lane Arts Trust),  Clare Asquith, the Countess of Oxford and Asquith, Colin Kerr (director external relations, War Graves Commission), Beryl Lemon (visitor from USA), Jean Shepherd (Beryl’s sister), Peter Shepherd.