Church Monuments Society

The Llangedwyn war memorial

The Llangedwyn War Memorial

Month: March 2018
Type: Board / Plaque / Tablet  
Era: 20th Century

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St Cedwyn Parish Church

More about this monument

The war memorial inside the parish church of St Cedwyn, Llangedwyn, Powys, is an unusual piece of Arts-and-Crafts design. A central brass panel with the names and dates of death of the men of the parish is surrounded by a wooden frame carved with foliage, flowers, fish and symbols of the Zodiac. At the top is a gilded Cross of St Chad. (Llangedwyn is in the diocese of St Asaph, but very near the border with the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, whose arms include the Cross of St Chad.) Below this is a lattice, a dove with an olive branch and the Welsh motto ‘Gwell angau na chwilydd’ (Better death than dishonour). Emblems of peace are combined with a warlike motto.

The design of the war memorial is credited to a local man, John Haughton Maurice Bonner. A local landowner, from Bryn-y-Gwalia, one of the larger houses in the parish, he is probably better known as a designer of jewellery. He first trained as an architectural draughtsman, then moved on to study with Henry Wilson at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. From 1905, he was head of the metal workshop at the Artificers’ Guild before setting up his own metalwork, jewellery and stained glass, mosaic and sculpture studio with his wife, Nancy Agar, in 1908.

Although his work was mainly based in London, Bonnor designed a number of memorials at Llangedwyn, including the memorial cross for the Wynn family. He would have been the obvious person to ask to design a war memorial for the parish, but he himself died (probably of tuberculosis) in 1917. It is not impossible that the parish could have been considering a memorial by that date. The scale of local losses had already led many parishes to begin assembling rolls of honour. Annual commemorative events were held on the anniversary of the outbreak of war, and by 1916 some communities had constructed ‘war shrines’, temporary wooden structures with rolls of honour and vases for flowers. It is possible, therefore, that Bonnor had at least done some preliminary designs for the Llangedwyn memorial, though in the event it was completed at his workshop under his wife’s leadership.

Many thanks to Phil Hellin for the photograph and for much of this information.

The memorial is in the Imperial War Museum’s database of war memorials.

The church also has a framed Roll of Honour which can be found here and here.

For more about Bonner, see ‘John Houghton Maurice Bonnor: A little known designer of the Arts and Crafts Movement’, by Muriel Wilson, The Journal of the Decorative Arts Society 1850-the Present, 28 (2004), 108-125.

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