On display in the Warriors’ Chapel at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, New South Wales, is a very personal memorial to those who lost their lives in the Great War.
The chapel was conceived as a place where grieving families who had no grave to visit could find solace. In the early 1920s, parishioners of the Newcastle Diocese donated wedding and engagement rings, and other jewellery, to be made into items to memorialise their lost sons, fathers, husbands and fiancées.
The most significant object they created is the Book of Gold, which records the names of the parishioners of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle who lost their lives during the war and is believed to be unique. The highly polished book cover is made from yellow gold, with decorative hinges of rose gold, and richly decorated with rose and white gold and chased silver. The central motif is set with enamels and precious and semi-precious gemstones.
The book was a collaborative work between an Australian goldsmith and designer, William Mark, and a Newcastle parishioner. William Mark had previously worked in England, where his work was sought by royalty and museums. For English-born trained artist Emma Dann, the book was a three-year labour of love to produce the medieval style, hand-drawn designs and calligraphy lists of names on artist’s watercolour paper.
Opened in September 1924, St Michael’s Chapel, more commonly known as the Warrior’s Chapel, was the gift of Hudson Berkeley. Around the walls of the chapel are carved the words of Laurence Binyon from his poem ‘For the fallen’:
They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We shall remember them.
The cathedral has more than fifty commemorative objects related to the Great War, including some of national significance. Among them are a flag that flew over the 13th Battalion Headquarters at Gallipoli and the Victoria Cross awarded to local man Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries for his outstanding courage at Passchendaele, Belgium, on 12 October 1917.
World War I Memorial Collection Significance Assessment, The Cathedral Church of Christ the King, Newcastle NSW and the Birdwood Heritage Committee, Bronwyn P Orrock, Kingscliffe, 2015.
‘The architecture of the chapel’, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 27 September 1924.
Service file of Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries, 34th Battalion:
‘Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries VC, JB Hopley’, Australian Dictionary of Biography:
Tyne Cot Cemetery – Zonnebeke, Belgium, Australians on the Western Front 1914–1918:
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries VC, 34th Battalion (Infantry), First World War (film):