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St Leonard's chapel, Newland, churchyard and choristers war memorial

Newland chapel


The church font

The choristers' war memorial

The churchyard

Some graves of note

The fallen


During Civic Week 2014 there was a flower festival in the church to mark the 150th anniversary of the building of the Almshouses for agricultural labourers. Since our last visit Father Mark Dalby had died, but his book about the Beauchamp alms houses and St Leonard's Church Newland had been published and was on sale (ref 1). There was also an excellent exhibition of historic photographs in the library.

While there we took the opportunity to visit the quiet churchyard located to the east of the church beyond the sheltered housing development known as Pyndar Court. The churchyard is not signposted. To reach it enter the drive of Pyndar Court and immediately turn left onto a tarmac path and then right.

Here are a few photos taken during our visit.

The church font

FontThe flower festival commemorated the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Almshouses and the Church. The flower arrangements were by the ladies of the Malvern Floral Art Club.

The 12th century font, taken from an earlier church in Great Malvern, was decorated with white roses.

People stood and sat to admire the religious frescos on the walls which told the Bible stories to those who were unable to read.

On a wall, to the right of the choir stalls, flowers were placed around a brass plaque in memory of former choir boys who fell in the Great War.

Choristers' war memorial

The memorial reads:

In grateful memory of Albert JE Berry, Reginald A James, Ernest Bird, Albert Rea, Dudley F Cox, William Russell, Harry C Evans, Gilbert Slater, Henry Stride who served in this choir and sanctuary and laid down their lives in the Great War 1914 - 1918 in the cause of honour, freedom and humanity. Grant them O Lord eternal rest and let light perpetual shine upon them.

Choir boys' memorial

We have attempted to identify these men and their families, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War. Click to jump to heading The fallen.

As a reminder that there was once a choir school at Newland, nearby someone had thoughtfully placed a dummy in the stalls.


The choir school was originally founded in 1864 to provide boarding places for ten orphans, but financial difficulties meant paying pupils were also accepted from all over Britain. Later pupils still boarded but attended day school at either Madresfield or Worcester Grammar.

Eventually the choir school was forced to close about 1945, due to a combination of financial problems, competition from other boarding schools and inability to meet the requirement of a new education act.

The churchyard

According to the St Leonard's website the burial ground at Newland was created on the site of the old wooden church and adjoining land given by Lord Beauchamp, and consecrated on 22nd October 1862 by the Bishop of Worcester.

The burial ground lies 100 yards or so east of St Leonards, now separated by the Pyndar Court development of homes for the elderly.

The photograph below shows a view looking northwards across the churchyard to the converted barns on the corner of Madresfield Road.

Newland churchyard

Turning to the right you will see an older section of the churchyard, where the headstones are all very similar. This was probably the final resting place of the residents of the Almshouses, the headstones being funded by the trustees.

Old section of Newland churchyard

Churchyard crossIn the distance hidden behind trees is an enormous stone cross, which we believe marks the site of the old wooden church at Newland. The inscription is weathered and in Latin.

A Newland historian relates:

The old church was demolished in 1866, and some of its materials were used for the Cloister Chapel, also called 'the mortuary chapel'.

At the same time a large stone cross (still prominent in the churchyard) was erected on its site.

This was designed by Revd James Skinner and made by Forsyth of Worcester.

The Latin inscription translated reads:

To God, the best and greatest, our Saviour, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the Cross. As a sacred memorial of the Chapel of St Leonard, Newland, since the 14th century still standing but lately pulled down, upon whose altar here the priests of Newland during five centuries were wont to celebrate the Holy Mysteries; of them the last and least J.S. dedicated this cross. Erected by the munificence of the faithful AD 1866.

Some graves of note

Rev James Skinner

Grave of Rev James SkinnerAmongst the graves we found the resting place of the first priest at the Almshouses, Rev James Skinner.

The inscription on his headstone is difficult to read now and the dates are in Latin. It translates:

Here rests all that is mortal of James Skinner, Priest, who fell asleep in Christ, Dec 29th 1881 aged 63 years.

They that turn many to righteousness, shall shine as the stars for ever and ever.

James Skinner, born Forfar, Scotland, was, the grandson of the Bishop of Aberdeen, and in addition to his other duties he was a religious writer.

You will find him listed in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Rev Hartley Brown

Grave of Rev Hartley BrownWhen we first came to live in Malvern in 1978 we were visited by the Rev Hartley Brown, a very nice chap, who had stopped by to welcome us, as our eldest son attended Madresfield Church of England Primary School. As Rector, he then lived at Guarlford Rectory in Rectory Lane and you can read more about him in 'The Guarlford Story' (ref 2).

The inscription on his headstone reads:

In loving memory of Rev Hartley Brown, chaplain of this community 1980 - 1982.

Died 24th May 1982, aged 66 years RIP

There is also a south window in the community chapel dedicated to Hartley Brown.

Before coming to Guarlford Hartley Brown was Vicar of St Stephen's Church in Worcester for 15 years.

Ethel Mary Lewis

Grave of Ethel Mary LewisNot far from the grave of Rev Hartley Brown is a small headstone in memory of nursing sister Ethel Mary Lewis.

The inscription reads:

Ethel Mary Lewis RRC

Little sister

1880 - 1966

She latterly lived in Malvern Link and died at Pershore Cottage Hospital, but as a young woman she had worked in New Zealand (ref 10), and served as a nurse in WWI.

Click to read story of Ethel Mary Lewis

Patrick Francis Branigan

Grave of Patrick Francis BraniganA simple headstone in the form of a cross reads:

In memory of

Patrick Francis Branigan

 Kt Q.C.

1906 - 2000

Sir Patrick Francis Branigan QC, born Ireland, was a lawyer and colonial diplomat. His obituary was published in the Daily Telegraph.

Walter Bouchier Devereux

Headstone of Walter Bouchier Devereux

A nautical headstone marks the grave of Rear Admiral Walter Bouchier Devereux, one of the earliest burials. The inscription is obscured in parts but roughly translates:

Walter Bouchier Devereux

Rear Admiral RN

Entered into the haven where he rests

May 15th 1868

Aged 57 years


He was born November 3rd 1810, the 3rd son of Henry Devereux, 14th Viscount Hereford. Besides his naval career, he was a family historian and an artist.

It is probable that many more people of interest are buried in the churchyard at Newland.

The fallen

Of the twenty four boys who joined the choir school between 1891 and 1908, eight were killed in the Great War. Due to the large number of casualties soldiers' bodies, if they were found, were buried close to where they fell but in some cases graves could not be located after the war.

Albert James Frederick Berry

Second Lieutenant Albert Berry (1888 - 1917) number 23/362 4th Bn New Zealand Rifle Brigade was the son of seaman John Berry RN (1855 - 1890) and Helena Augusta Hicks (1857 - 1940).

He joined the Newland choir school in 1894 and left in 1903 (ref 1).

The Auckland Cenotaph database, which gives information about all who served in any war, records that Albert Berry was at Hurworth Preparatory School, Wanganui, when he enlisted in 1915. Paperspast, the NZ site with many digitised newspapers, reveals that a Mr Berry was a teacher there in 1910 and 1911 when he left to read for Holy Orders; presumably he returned later (ref 10).

 Hurworth seems to have been a highly-regarded school, and Arthur Porritt, 'best boy' who won the most prizes in 1913, was later a Governor General of New Zealand. The school merged with Heretaunga in 1927 forming the present Hereworth School (ref 10).

Albert Berry was killed in Belgium on 12th October 1917 during the battle of Passchendaele (ref 5);  by our reckoning he was aged 29 years.

He was probably too young to remember his father who was drowned when the twin screw Torpedo Cruiser HMS Serpent launched in 1887 went down off the Spanish coast in 1890. Of the 176 men on board, 173 died.

Albert had two brothers, John Archibald Berry and Joseph Hicks Berry also known as Barry. Both brothers survived the Great War, married and emigrated to Canada, as did some other Newland choirboys.

You can read more about Albert Berry on the Malvern Remembers website.

Reginald Arthur James

Joined the choir school in 1904, but note more than one man with the name Reginald A James died in the Great War.

Just possibly he was the son of Henry Robert James and Eleanor Frances Sheen born at Farnham 1895. This man's mother died when he was aged 4 years and his elder brother Rev Howard Cecil James became a chaplain. Reginald emigrated to Canada where he was employed as a bank clerk and enlisted on 4th Jan 1915 at Nelson, British Columbia. He joined as Private 442407 with the Canadian 54th Inf Bn, later transferring into the Royal Flying Corps, and becoming a Captain. He was reported missing on 16th July 1918. He is remembered both on the Arras Flying School Memorial and Nelson Cenotaph.

Ernest Bird

Joined the choir school in 1908 and is recorded in the 1911 census at Newland.

He was likely the son of Thomas William Bird, a quarryman, and Annie Evans of Wenvoe, Glamorganshire. In 1901 the family were living at 3 Chapel Row, and possibly their minister had recommended Ernest for the choir school due to the large number of children in the household.

The CWGC website records he was Private 23027, 19th Bn Welsh Regiment, died 7th July 1916 aged 20 years. His name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial.

In September 1916 the Malvern News reported that 'Ernest Bird formerly a Newland choir boy had been killed in France'.

Albert Edward Rea

According to the 1911 Census, Albert Edward Rea was born about 1895 at Newland. In 1911 he was staying with his uncle Simeon Lisseman, a haulier, near The Wyche, Colwall. He had joined the Newland choir school in 1904.

His military service papers record that on enlistment with the Territorial Force, at Great Malvern, May 1913, aged 18 years, he was a labourer with the Colwall Park Granite Company.

On enlistment, as a part time soldier, he became Gunner 2052, 2nd Worcester Battery, RFA, Granite Fort, part of 2nd South Midland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

Following the outbreak of war, on 12 Sep 1914 he signed papers to serve outside the UK. At the time of his death, on 9th October 1917, he was Bombardier 830257, 241 Bde RFA.

His papers say that his belongings were to be sent to Mrs Lily May Butterworth, 27 Crossley Street, Shaw, near Oldham. She was his cousin, the daughter of Simeon Lisseman.

You can read more about him on the Malvern Remembers website.

Dudley Farr Cox

Dudley Farr Cox was born at Malvern Link in 1886, the son of William Farr Cox and Elizabeth Dorothy. His father is described in an 1880 trade directory as an assistant overseer and rate collector.

Dudley joined the Newland choir school in 1896. The 1911 census records him as an Architect's Draughtsman, and his sister Sybella as an Assistant Mistress, C of E School, probably St Matthias.

Sapper 546704, Royal Engineers, he died of wounds 11 July 1916.

His name appears on the Newland choristers' memorial, St Matthias memorial, and the roll of the fallen at Malvern library.

You can read more about him on the Malvern Remembers website.

William Russell

William Russell is a common name and so we have been unable to find out who he was and how he died. He joined the choir school in 1905.

Harry Courtenay Evans

Alfred Henry Courtenay Evans joined the choir school in 1906 before going on to Kings School Worcester. Possibly a factor in his coming to Newland was the death of his mother. He is recorded at Newland, with seven other pupils, in the 1911 census.

2nd Lt 107th Squadron Royal Flying Corps, previously 11th Bn East Lancashire Regiment.

Died aged 20 years on 22nd March 1918 when he accidentally fell from a plane flying over Leck Down Camp, Salisbury.

He was the son of Quantity Surveyor Alfred Richard Evans and Lyle Hart, of 3 Cedars Road, Barnes Common, London, and was survived by his brother Henry Barrington Evans born 1902, died 1994 Kingston upon Thames.

Gilbert John Leigh Slater

Gilbert John Leigh Slater born Cheshire 1886 joined the Newland choir school in 1895 and went on to Rossall public school at Fleetwood in Lancashire, a school for sons of the clergy; he was there in 1901 when the headmaste was Rev John Pearce Way.

Gilbert was the son of the Rev Francis Slater and Frances Adelaide Leigh who lived in Cheshire. Rev Francis Slater was vicar of St James Warrington, and later St Chad's, Over. His mother and father died while he was still at school and in 1907 he went up to Keble College, Oxford.

The 1911 census finds him in Malvern Link living with his widowed Aunt Charlotte Isabel Slater, when his occupation was recorded as a 'Theological Student'.

A Lieutenant in the Worcestershire Regiment, he was mortally wounded by a shell fragment on 30th April 1916.

Gilbert is remembered on the Newland choristers' memorial, St Matthias memorial, the roll of the fallen at Malvern library and the roll of Keble men killed whilst serving in the Military and Naval Forces between 1914 and 1918.

He was survived by his elder brother Cuthbert Francis Leigh Slater who retired to Wysteria Cottage in Ledbury, where he died in 1959, and two sisters.

You will find more about Gilbert's eventful short life on the Malvern Remembers website.

Henry Stride

A Henry Stride joined the choir school in 1906.

We think he may have been the son of Albert Stride and Ellen Workman. Albert was a fireman at the salt works, at Stoke Prior, near Droitwich; his wife Ellen died in 1903 leaving him with four sons and four daughters to look after, so it is possible that either Albert's employer or the vicar of St Michael's Stoke Prior sought a place for Henry at Newland.

The four brothers were Albert, Henry, Joseph and Stephen.

By 1911 Albert senior was a night foreman at the salt works, possibly a job that made it easier for him to look after his family; Henry, a carpenter, was back home. Joseph was missing, but the 1911 census records a Joseph Stride of the right age at the Newland choir school. The only discrepancy is that he is described as born Hanley Staffordshire - but there is no matching birth at Hanley in the index of births, so he could be Henry's brother.

In 1913 Henry's elder brother Albert, a clerk at the salt works, married Emily Morgan and they had a daughter Joan, who was born in March 1916.

Very sadly, six months later, Albert Stride, Private 30637 1st Bn the Worcester regiment was killed on active service in France on 25th September 1916 aged 25 years.

 Albert's younger brother, Henry Stride, Private 30059 2nd Bn the Worcestershire regiment was killed five months later on 25th May 1917 aged only 19 years.

Albert and Henry's names were recorded on the Memorial Board at Stoke Works County School, now Stokes Prior First School and St Michael's war memorial. (Both men are recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database, except for their age and parents).

Their brothers Joseph and Stephen lived to a good age.


  1. Dalby Mark, The Beauchamp Almshouses and St Leonards church Newland, 1864 - 2014, published by Aspect Design, ISBN 978-1-908832-56-6
  2. Hill Don et al, The Guarlford Story, published by Print Plus Hereford, ISBN 0-9550498-0-6
  3. Booklet, St Leonard's church Newland, 2001
  4. Malvern Remembers website
  5. CWGC website
  6. England and Wales census
  7. BMD index
  8. Probate records
  9. Military records
  10. Communications from Otaki Museum, New Zealand, March 2015

To go to the St Leonard's church and Beauchamp Community website click here

The Malvern Hills logoMore photos of St Leonard's

Newland Fete 2012

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