The Bolitho memorial windows at St John the Baptist, Leusdon, Devon

Mark Charter

s3. Lt William Torquill Macleod Bolitho, 19th Hussars.

Figure 1. Memorial to Lt William Bolitho.

Lt William Bolitho died on at Château Hooge, in the second battle of Ypres during the First World War. This window, on the south side of the nave, was donated by the Bolitho family in his memory. It was designed and made by Arthur Anselm Orr of Harrow1 and dedicated on 22nd April 19172. Just over a year later, a five-light window made by Robert Anning Bell, also donated by the Bolitho family in memory of Lt Bolitho, was inserted above the altar in the church of St Pol de Léon, Paul, in Cornwall. Many of the themes in the Leusdon window reappear in the Paul window, and it is interesting to compare the two.

Fortitude.

Figure 2. Tracery quatrefoil showing Fortitude, one of the Cardinal Virtues. He has been beaten to his knees, his sword is broken, an arrowhead is embedded in his shield and, behind him, the keep is on fire. Yet he is undaunted.

And you will speed us onward with a cheer
And wave beyond the stars that all is well.
(the last two lines of the the poem ‘Julian Grenfell’ by Maurice Baring ()).

Figure 3. The main scene in the left- and right-hand lights. Lt Bolitho, shown as Sir Galahad, kneels beside the road from Ypres to Hooge and the Holy Grail, surrounded by ministering angels, appears to him in a vision. He is clothed in a cope-like cloak of blue with an orphrey of gold, green, and white. The emblem of the Redemption is on his breastplate, and the white roses of England are woven into his chain mail shirt. He holds a flag on which is the Crusader Cross, and behind him stands his white horse. In the background the dawn breaks, shown as a thin red line of ruby glass, running straight across both lights.

In the borders of the two lights are various symbols or emblems, all of which have a naval or military significance. Going clockwise around the border of the left-hand light from the top are:

  1. The Anchor of Hope.
  2. The Cross of Redemption.
  3. The Crown of Gold.
  4. The Sword of the Spirit.
  5. The Tower of Strength.
  6. The Shield of Hope.

and going clockwise around the border of the right-hand light:

  1. The Burning Heart (of Charity).
  2. The Light of Faith.
  3. The Helmet of Salvation.
  4. A tabard with emblems of Knight Errantry.
  5. A ship (emblem of the sea).
  6. Oak Leaves (symbol of strength).

The poet Julian Grenfell () died two days after Lt Bolitho, of wounds received at Château Hooge thirteen days earlier.

The main subject, Lt Bolitho as Sir Galahad is the principal theme in the Paul window which, like this window, shows the road from Ypres to Hooge and quotes the last two lines of the poem by Maurice Baring.

Figure 4. St Michael, the patron saint of soldiers, in the bottom left-hand corner of the left-hand light. He is shown in armour, holding a flaming sword in his right hand. With his left hand he is weighing souls in a pair of scales, the pure soul of a child (who has a nimbus) outweighing that of a devil.

Figure 5. St Nicholas, the patron saint of children and sailors, in the bottom right-hand corner of the right-hand light. He is shown dressed as a bishop (he was Bishop of Myra) and holding a ship, which is an emblem of his.

Figure 6. St Andrew, in the bottom right-hand corner of the left-hand light. He is shown holding a saltire, or cross of St Andrew, made of two pieces of tree trunk tied together.

Figure 7. St George, in the bottom left-hand corner of the right-hand light. He is shown in armour, holding in his right hand a banner bearing the cross of St George. Part of a vanquished dragon is visible on his left.

And there was no more sea (Revelation 21:1).

Figure 8. Mediallion near the bottom of the left-hand light.

Ypres.

Figure 9. Picture at the bottom of the left-hand light, showing the lakenhalle (Cloth Hall) in Ypres. This medieval commercial building was destroyed by artillery fire during the First World War and then reconstructed over a period of 30 years to its pre-war state.

re den (By God).

Figure 10. Heraldry at the bottom of the right-hand light, illustrating Lt Bolitho’s relationship with Cornish and Scottish families. At the bottom is the Bolitho motto (in the cartoon in Figure 12a it is clearly RE DEN, but Burke gives it as Re Deu). Above it is Lt Bolitho’s coat of arms: on the left (dexter!) Bolitho of Trengwainton, Penzance, is ermine, on a plain chevron between two chevronels engrailed and three fleurs-de-lis sable five bezants (Burke 1884 p 97). Borlase is ermine on a bend sable two hands and arms issuing out of the clouds at the elbows all proper rending a horseshoe or (Burke 1884 p 101), Trevelyan is gules a demi horse argent hoofed and maned or, issuing out of water in base proper (Burke 1884 p 1029). On the right is his mother’s family, Macleod of Cadboll (Mackenzie 1889 p 431), quarterly 1st or, a mountain azure inflamed proper, 2nd gules three legs in armour conjoined at the upper part of the thigh proper, 3rd or, a lymphad sable flags gules, 4th azure, a castle triple-towered and embattled argent masoned sable windows and porch gules (Burke 1884 p 645). Above the coat of arms is a helmet, and above that the crest of Bolitho: in front of a fern-brake a cubit arm and hand erect proper vested azure charged with three bezants cuffed argent the hand holding a fleur-de-lis sable (Burke 1884 p 97).

At the bottom of the two lights are various figures and objects that illustrate aspects of Lt Bolitho’s family and career in the armed services (he was in the Royal Navy before he joined the army). St Michael (Figure 4), in the bottom left-hand corner, is the patron saint of soldiers, while St Nicholas (Figure 5), in the bottom right-hand corner, is the patron saint of sailors. St Andrew (Figure 6) is the patron saint of Scotland (his mother’s family was Scottish), while St George (Figure 7) is the patron saint of England (his father’s family was English). The ship medallion (Figure 8) is another reference to his earlier naval career (and the quotation And there was no more sea may be a humorous reference to its ending by his chronic sea-sickness). Ypres (Figure 9) is the town in Flanders near which he died, and was also represented in the window at Paul. Lt Bolitho’s coat of arms (Figure 10) is in the Paul window as well.

The themes of the good fight and the crusade against evil are present in at least four of the window's scenes: the depiction of Lt Bolitho as the knight Sir Galahad, Fortitude in the tracery, St Michael in the left-hand light weighing good against evil, and St George in the right-hand light after slaying the dragon.

Figure 11. The mark of Arthur Anselm Orr who made the window.

In proud remembrance of
William Torquill Macleod Bolitho
Lieut · ⅩⅨ Hussars
who fell in action at
Chateau Hooge 2nd battle of Ypres
“Promoted”

Figure 12. Brass plaque beside the window.

The original designs of the window were presented by Mrs Bolitho to the Mousehole branch of the Royal British Legion on 4th February 1931.3. The surviving design of the right-hand light is shown in Figure 12a.

Figure 12a. The original cartoon of the right-hand light. Some of the emblems around the border have been changed in the window (Figure 3) (going clockwise around the border from the top):

  1. The Burning Heart (of Charity).
  2. The Helmet of Salvation.
  3. Maybe thistle (Scottish symbol)?.
  4. Maybe oak tree (English symbol)?.
  5. Unidentified.
  6. The Light of Faith.

n3. Simon Bruce Tormod Bolitho.

Figure 13. Memorial to Simon Bruce Tormod Bolitho.

Simon Bruce Tormod Bolitho was the younger brother of Lt William Bolitho, and died five years before him, aged four4. This window in his memory is on the north side of the nave, directly opposite his older brother’s memorial window. It was inserted in and was also made by Arthur Anselm Orr.5.

Figure 14. Tracery quatrefoil, showing the Blessed Virgin Mary surrounded by five child angels.

There are no dead. (from L'oiseau bleu or The Blue Bird by Maurice Maeterlinck).

Figure 15. The main scene in the two lights, showing two characters from the play: the little boy Tyltyl and his sister Mytyl. The little boy holds the blue bird of happiness, while more blue birds circle around his head.

To the dear memory of
Simon Bruce Tormod Bolitho
Born at Hannaford—.
Fell asleep—
Lux Perpetua

Figure 16. Brass plaque beside the window. The quotation is from the Requiem Mass: Et lux perpetua luceat eis (And let perpetual light shine upon them).

References

  1. Cornishman and Cornish Telegraph, , p 7.
  2. Cornishman and Cornish Telegraph, , p 5.
  3. Western Morning News, , p 3. This article states that the window was in memory of Torquil [sic] Bolitho, 19th Royal Hussars, and Torquil Macleod, R.N., H.M.S. Goliath, both killed in action in the Great War, although there is no reference to Torquil Macleod (the cousin of Lt William Torquill Macleod Bolitho) either in the Leusdon window or on the brass plaque next to it (his name does appear in the church on a separate memorial to men of the parish killed in the First World War). He is mentioned, however, on the memorial tablet adjacent to the Bolitho memorial window in St Pol de Léon, Paul.
  4. Cornishman, , p 3.
  5. Faculty Petition (Faculty Petitions, Widecombe: Leusdon, 3. Bolitho window, 1911. Devon Heritage Centre, Exeter). Faculty granted 9th January 1912. On the back of the drawing (Figure 17) submitted with the Faculty Petition is written Window designed by Arthur Orr for Leusdon Church. The cost of the window was estimated in the petition to be £90.

    Figure 17. Drawing of the window, included in the Faculty Petition. Reproduced with the kind permission of the Diocese of Exeter and Devon Archives and Local Studies Service.

  6. Insertion of window in memory of Lt William Bolitho and description of window in memory of Simon Bolitho Cornishman and Cornish Telegraph 10th May 1917 p 5.