Our Church History

World War History

War Memorial at St Katharine’s Church

Remote though the setting appears, St.Katharine’s suffered bomb damage on 7 July, 1945, near the end of the second World War. This was caused by an accidental explosion in a nearby ammunition store. As well as extensive roof damage and dangerous weakening of the north wall, much of the stained glass once gracing every window was destroyed.

By 1951 a Diocesan Committee suggested the demolition of the entire nave, retaining only the transepts. Through the perseverance of the Rev. Edward G. Courtman, Vicar of Mildenhall and the St. Katharine’s Parochial Church Council (under its then Chairman, Noel Tilley) restoration work was undertaken and the church as we see it today reopened, following six years of uncertainty, on Easter Day 1952.

William Thomas George Cope 1905-1940

William Cope is on the War Memorial at St Katharine’s Church. The story of his life from his time at St Katharine’s School, through to his war service as a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy is told in a booklet available to buy from the PCC Secretary at £3. Just send your request via email to st-katharines@savernaketeam.com

If you have information about other servicemen from the parish who are commemorated on the war memorial and/or buried in the churchyard, which you would like to share with us please get in touch using our email address above.

Building History & Information

St Katharine’s Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Salisbury on 24 September, 1861

It was dedicated to St. Katharine by Maria Caroline, Marchioness of Ailesbury in memory of her Russian mother, Katharine Woronzoff, Dowager Countess of Pembroke. 

The architect T.H. Wyatt, restored and built many churches in the Diocese of Salisbury. Along with the stonemason George Howitt of Devizes, the ironworker G. Somers and the builder Daniel Jones, Wyatt created a large and spacious church. The use of warm Bath stone, the graceful vaulting and arches, the stone carving inside and out, the lovely use of marble and the glowing colours of the Minton tiles all offer the congregation and visitor many delights.

The memorial tablet by A. Gilbert R.A. behind the lectern is particularly noteworthy: interesting too are the Beatitudes on tiles high above the nave.

Although most of the stained-glass was damaged due to the ammunition store explosion in 1945 (see below in World War History), the result is that St Katharine’s is now a beautifully light church with most of the remaining stained-glass surrounding the alter.   

Of the stained glass remaining, the following images are represented around the alter: