Scouring the Scrapbooks: Worcester Life in 1916-17

Worcester Cathedral library is home to a collection of scrapbooks which stretch back in date to the 1900s. These fascinating records document events in the Cathedral as well as Worcester more generally throughout the years. Volunteers today still add to ongoing scrapbooks in order to preserve a snapshot of Cathedral life for future generations. Eve takes  a look at the scrapbook put together in 1916-1917.

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Image reproduced by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK).

Worcester Cathedral played a huge part during the First World War. It held services and events throughout 1916 and 1917; it really was the heart of Worcester at this time. The influence the Cathedral had meant it could successfully collect money from people which could then go towards the War Savings. Furthermore, memorials and monuments to a huge number and range of different people grew up at the Cathedral during 1916-17.

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Image reproduced by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK).

From one dedicated to a famous local novelist, Mrs Henry Wood, to others in memory of many Bishops of Worcester and, of course, those commemorating the war effort and bravery of the soldiers, monuments supported every aspect of the Cathedral’s history. Then, in December, there were various lectures arranged which people thoroughly enjoyed attending and discussing. This was a great way to take their mind off the war.

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Image reproduced by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK).

Meetings and assizes also based themselves at the Cathedral. In addition, there were plenty other more light-hearted goings on – stories were told such as the one when the late Dean Forrest was left behind by his coachman when they stopped for a break in the countryside. The coachman didn’t realise his mistake until the Dean’s wife asked why the Dean hadn’t arrived in the coach as he should have!

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Dean Forrest – image reproduced by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK).

Another time, in January 1917, schoolboys from the King’s School used their holidays to dig College Green up with the idea of it becoming a vegetable garden; this could naturally feed many people in the local area both healthily and fairly cheaply. The Dean, William Moore Ede, even consented to having his Deanery’s lower lawn dug up, so that potatoes could be planted there.

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Dean Moore Ede – image reproduced by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK).

Again, the Cathedral showed itself to be a focal point in the Worcester area. During 1917 (and the years before and since), with the aim of keeping spirits high, both weddings and recitals were common. The Cathedral was host to a great number of these but, keeping the war in mind, collections were always made to support charities such as the Red Cross and their invaluable efforts in the war. The difficulty of the war years also meant that there was no choice but to ration food. So, in April 1917, a communal kitchen was set up at the Cathedral to publicise to people which foods were plentiful and which they shouldn’t use as much.

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Image reproduced by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK).

Overall, with all the terror of the war hanging over people, both in Worcester and everywhere else, religion played an unquestionable role in everyone’s lives and what building supported this more than Worcester Cathedral? Then, to this day, the stories and history of Worcester are centred on its magnificent cathedral and are told by the books in its library and archives; all the information used in this article and much more is contained in just one single scrapbook from the cathedral archives.

 

Eve Lambrick

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