There are two memorials to the Fallen of the Two World Wars in St. Mary’s churchyard, a roll of honour in the yew tree by the main entrance to the churchyard and a stone memorial to the Fallen of the Two World Wars set in the west wall of the church.
The Parish Magazine for September of 1917 reported that the Roll of Honour in the yew tree was presented to the parish by Mrs. Penn and was unveiled and dedicated by her after a short service on Wednesday, May 23rd, 1917 [the eve of Empire Day.]. The magazine also recorded that “It is worthy of note that the Memorial is made of teak wood and copper from H.M.S. Britania formerly a training ship for the Royal Navy”.
Mrs. Gladys Penn was the widow of Captain Eric Frank Penn of the Grenadier Guards, killed at the age of 37 when a shell fell on his dug-out opposite the Hohenzollern Redoubt at Auchy-les-Mines near Loos-en-Gohelle in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France on 18th October, 1915. Captain Penn was buried or commemorated at Vermelles British Cemetery, grave reference I.K. 11. At this time Mr. and Mrs. William Penn, his father and mother, are listed as being resident at St. Alban’s Court, Nonington, and therefore renting St. Alban’s Court from Captain Egerton Hammond, the then owner of the St. Alban’s Court estate.
The Penn family business was John Penn and Sons, an English engineering company based in London and mainly known for its marine steam engines, which had been founded by the captain’s grandfather and was almost certainly the source of the teak and copper used to make the roll of honour. William Penn had played cricket for Kent in the 1870’s and Eric Penn had played for Cambridge and the M.C.C.
The teak and copper
Roll of Honour.
The larger stone memorial for the Fallen of the Two World Wars is set in the west wall of the church which was refurbished and re-dedicated in 2010.