Geoffrey and Rev. Sidney Parton Correspondence.
Letters of 1942 between Geoffrey Gowlland (b. 1903), grandson of George Gowlland, and Rev. Sidney Panton, Rector of St Nicholas Cole Abbey
St Nicholas Cole Abbey
Geoff to The Vicar, St Nicholas Cole, Knightrider St, Queen Victoria St. E.C.1. - 3rd April 1943
Would you be kind enough to let me know if there is any date on a brass plate in your church to my (great?) grandfather? The plate is said to read “George Gowlland – 39 years People’s Warden”.
Owing to war work, I very seldom get to London, and the last time I was unable to see much of the interior owing to the damage.
If you have any record of the inscription, or are able to find the plate, if it still exists, I would be very grateful indeed.
Rev Sidney Panton, St Alban’s Clergy House, Brooke Street, E.C.1 - 6th April 1943
I am the Rector of St Nicholas Cole Abbey. Unfortunately the church was burnt two years ago and every memorial on the wall perished. There was a record of them all which was kept at the Rectory, but that was completely destroyed at the same time.
The church is now not under my care and I do not possess a key to the ruin of it. At the moment no-one is allowed entry because stone-work is falling. Later it will, I hope, be possible to get in. The base walls remain and the ledger stones in the floor are in excellent order. I may be able to find the inscription you are enquiring about, and if so I will let you know, but it cannot be just yet. If the inscription is in the floor, it will be there now, so long as it is cut in stone and not inscribed in metal. No metal work survived.
[Inscribed in Geoff’s handwriting “Replied 12.IV.43”]
Rev Sidney Panton to Geoff - 8th June 1943
I had access recently to the ruins of St Nicholas Cole Abbey and found that the stone which I had been told had your name on it is now a complete blank. Most of the ledger stones have stood the exposure quite well, but that of your ancestor seems to have been made of softer material. The whole surface is covered with grit and dirt which I do not want to disturb as it may act as a preservative, and possibly some faint sign of the words may appear one day. I am not without hope. If this be so, I will let you know.
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