19th May 2016
May Schymczyk and Oshi Francomb report on the Frome College field trip to Mells.
At the end of the Spring Term, we went on a trip to understand the context of the Home of our Delight project we are helping with, and the real place that it explores.
We visited Mells to view the and the surrounding village and, to see some of the memorials dedicated to the men who fell. The well-known Sir Edwin Lutyens designed the memorial dedicated to Edward Horner. Shot by a sniper in 1917 and despite his class and rank Horner was just another victim of the bloodbath of the First World War.
“This statue, which depicts Horner sitting regally atop a horse, was designed by famous war architect Edwin Lutyens, who also designed the infamous First World War cemeteries across the Channel, and the Thiepval memorial in Belgium. The statue’s inscription; ‘He has outsoared the shadow of our night’, is from Elegy on the Death of John Keats by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Keats also died young. It is a powerful reminder of the many lives, not just Edward’s, that were lost in the war.
“We also heard an odd little story about Edward Horner, and his relationship with a vet with whom he shared a room, as shown through the vet’s diary.”
‘I was told that I should be sharing a room and a servant with another officer. It was an extraordinary sensation, later in the evening, to find all my clothes laid out, and to leap from middle-class self sufficiency to being coddled and valeted from the moment I got out of bed in the morning.’
Memoirs of a Veterinary Surgeon by Reginald Hancock 1954
Near to the grand figure, at the foot of the church tower is engraved the Latin inscription dedicated to the memory of Raymond Asquith. As the son of Herbert Asquith Prime minister, his death may well have affected the course of the war.
H.H. Asquith resigned from the premiership three months later, on 7 December 1916.
We then walked down the road to see the village memorial, commissioned on behalf of the village, but strongly steered by Lady Frances Horner and Katharine Asquith, her daughter and widow of Raymond Asquith, who were from the key aristocratic family of Mells.
The memorial lists all the fallen village men in equal standing regardless of rank or class, and mirrors his other architectural designs over the channel. It was fascinating seeing the inscriptions of the fallen men in the flesh or at least in stone, when we have spent so much time looking for their names in newspapers of the time, in History Club sessions at Frome College.
Especially as some us had never been to Mells before.
Accompanying the tour of the village, we also got a chance to have a ‘digital tour’ too. A web based application designed by artist / technologist Chris Jelley swallowed us up to go on a virtual tour of Mells, accessing information as we walked through satellite tracking on our phones.
It really started to bring the history of Mells to life. We even tried out writing a few blog posts that were instantly accessible on the walk through project iPads..
Overall it was a brilliant day and we even had biscuits and cake!
Frome History Club and other individuals and community groups are currently helping us to create a new digital history walk for Mells which will launch in September 2016.
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