August 4 – A hundred years on: Croydon remembers

Old Coulsdon memorial service

Hundreds of local people in communities across the borough, have been attending services and wreath-laying ceremonies at churches and war memorials yesterday and today, the 100th anniversary of Britain entering the First World War.

In Old Coulsdon, after a service at St John’s, the congregation attended the memorial in Grange Park, as pictured above, where local children read the names of those who lost their lives in the “war to end all wars”.

At St Mary the Blessed Virgin in Addington, where there is an exhibit about the First World War, a vigil will be held there tonight from 10pm.

Fifty years ago, the poet Phillip Larkin, wrote this, which seems most fitting on this date:

MCMXIV (1964)

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day—

And the countryside not caring:
The place names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat’s restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word – the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.


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