Saturday, August 23, 2014

St. George's

Former St. George's Church, Hardwicke Place
Click any image for larger version

I am currently working on a talk on the cartoons of Gordon Brewster and on some aspects of his life. A major influence on the family was the death of Gordon's brother, Richard, towards the end of WWI.

I had been told there was a plaque with Richard's name on it in St. George's church in Dublin and I had seen a photo of it online.

In trying to trace the plaque I encountered Eugene O'Connor who now owns the former church which is currently seeking a commercial tenant. Eugene discovered that there was a stained glass window on which Richard is mentioned and that only made me all the more anxious to gain access to the interior.

Well, today was the day. The premises is open at the moment as part of Heritage Week and Eugene arranged for me to meet James O'Connor, the heritage architect on the project.

The place would blow you away. Not only has the exterior been saved from demolition but it has been lovingly restored and is now in magnificent shape. The interior is something else. Eugene and James have fully conserved the inner walls, including the organ, the memorial plaques and, of course, the stained glass window, along with some others.

But the way the premises is now fitted out as commercial floorspace is something else again. It is essentially a free-standing open plan structure within the building and the result is that you can still see the inside of the outer walls, including the stained glass windows. Of course the pews and the altar are gone, having given way to this office space. You can read details of the restoration here. Purely incidentally, I had already come across the altar rails in St. Iberius in Wexford town. These are the rails at which the Duke of Wellington was married, but that is another story entirely.

Anyway, I was anxious to see the full window and hoped I would be able to get a photo, which I did.

Memorial Window 1914-18

It is a magnificent resurrection window, as you can see. The border panels with the wreaths each contain the names of three parishioners who fell in WWI.

No greater love ...

The, by now, standard inscription honouring those who gave their lives is at the top, and while many might feel that, rather than giving, they had their lives taken away from them, that is not a reason to deny them the honour.

Fallen parishioners

The bottom script explains that the window honours parishioners who fell in WWI.

Richard G Brewster

This is the panel with Richard's name on it. It is in the top right hand corner of the window.

Boys Brigade Fallen

I did not succeed in finding the actual plaque I was looking for and James told me that it was not in the church when Eugene acquired it. The church in Cathal Brugha St., just down the road, inherited the parish functions and I may go in there just to see if the plaque was transferred.

Meanwhile on my way out I spotted the plaque above. The list of names is shorter and the regiments are specified. These are a subset of fallen parishioners who had also been members of the parish Boys' Brigade.

Richard G Brewster

There is Richard's name and regiment.

So, all in all, a good morning's work.

And, if you want to locate your business in a truly prestige premises, this is it.

Postscript 14/9/2014

It is quite amazing how research can lead you up all sorts of paths and turn up the most weird and wonderful connections.

My research on Richard Brewster, as well as leading me to St. George's, also led me to a plaque in High School, Rathgar, which commemorates pupils of the school who fell in WWI. Richard was one of these.

Michelle Burrowes is undertaking an extensive project commemorating the 1,000 pupils who enlisted in WWI and more particularly the 79 pupils who fell in that war. Richard's brother Theo, was among those who survived.

There is a beautiful stained glass window in the school - the High School Great War Memorial window. It is the work of William McBride and Michelle wondered if the window in St. George's might also be one of his. She has now established that it is. And so we are now linking the two windows virtually.

You can see the High School window here and it would be well worth your while to have a good look around this impressive site. There are links to the rest of the site in the right hand column of the window page.


Johnny Doyle said...

saw your memorial photo with Reginald Woodman and decided to do some looking into his service

Póló said...

Thanks Johnny.

Your blog looks very impressive and I will delve into it over the next while.

Meanwhile you might be interested in how my uncle died in a BA cock-up on the Somme in 1916

Póló said...

I have extracted the panel on the Resurrection window which lists Reginald Woodman and you can see it here. Feel free to use if you want.