Tag Archives: Salisbury Cathedral

Remembering Captain Eustace Lyle Gibbs at Tyntesfield


Eustace Lyle Gibbs, born March 10, 1885, was the second youngest son of Antony Gibbs. He was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford. Then, as expected of him, he joined the family shipping business.

Eustace was already a member of the North Somerset Yeomanry.  When World War I broke out on July 28, 1914, he was among the first British troops sent to France. Wealth and rank did not exempt men from serving; in fact, those of high rank mostly felt even more obligation to fight than those less fortunate. They generally entered the war as officers.


Eustace had a short home leave in December 1914. While visiting his family at their beautiful Victorian country house, Tyntesfield, he gave an interview to the Western Daily Press. Asked how people at home could help soldiers at the front, he said the troops always needed gloves and socks.  And they really missed chocolate. When he returned to the front, he brought donations of these items with him, and handed them out to the men of his “B” Company, British Expeditionary Force.


During his leave, Eustace no doubt spent time in the Billiard Room at Tyntesfield, a wonderfully masculine space designed for the men in the family. Eustace would never see his home again.

Eustace died on February 11, 1915 of wounds received fighting near Ypres. He was 29 years old. His portrait was painted in 1916 from a photograph of him in his uniform. The artist was Albert Henry Collings.

Ceramic poppies fill the Tower of London moat

1915 was the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War. I wrote about the spectacular display of close to a million ceramic poppies in honor of fallen British soldiers at the Tower of London. The The photo above is from The Guardian at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/01/tower-of-londons-ww1-remembrance-installation-share-your-photos-and-videos. The post is at https://castlesandcoffeehouses.com/2014/09/26/remembrance-of-wars-past/.


That post also remembers another aristocratic young man who gave his life for his country, Edward Wyndham Tennant.  He died at age 19 in the Battle of the Somme, 1916. On the plaque above his marble relief portrait, a fellow soldier describes the young man’s leadership:  “When things were at their worst he would go up and down in the trenches cheering the men; when danger was greatest his smile was loveliest.” His grieving parents commissioned the touching memorial to him in Salisbury Cathedral.

Fighting in the Great War ended “at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.  Virtually every town and village in Britain (and also in other countries like France) lost young men to the carnage of the First World War. About 20 million people lost their lives. On Armistice Day, in England and in other places, there are ceremonies honoring the fallen.

Americans actively entered the war in its last few months, after supporting the Allied side indirectly. No one knows exact numbers, but about 110,000 Americans lost their lives in the fighting. In the United States, November 11 is Veterans’ Day, when all who have served their country in the military are honored. Today, women serve as often as men do. And as in times past, whole families and communities feel the effects of loved ones marching off to serve. We need to salute them all.

Mompessons: Resting (With a View) in Salisbury


In glorious Salisbury Cathedral, I came upon these two striking effigies, looking much more colorful than most of the effigies lined up along the nave.  They somehow looked startled.  Also they lay in the opposite direction of most of their companions. The closer I got to them, the more curious I was.


Who were they, and what was their story?  As luck would have it, the photo I took of their names did not turn out.  What to do?  I posted my photos on one of the Facebook history groups I belong to, and had the answer within minutes.

I was looking at effigies of Sir Richard Mompesson and his third wife Katherine. Sir Richard was a local gentleman and politician, a Member of Parliament.  He died in 1627. He had made judicious marriages and enjoyed a comfortable life.  His family owned an early version of nearby Mompesson House, which is now a beautiful National Trust property.

I think I read a placard in the cathedral stating that the tomb of the Mompessons was facing a different direction from most, because it had once been repositioned during a change in the Cathedral.


The Mompessons must enjoy their view of the very beautiful Gothic ceiling of soaring Salisbury Cathedral. If those wonderful arches were my view, I’d keep my eyes wide open too.


Salisbury is one of my very favorite cathedrals.  I’m looking forward to entering its welcoming doors again.

Join me next time for more explorations in the art and history of Europe and the British Isles!

Remembrance of Wars Past: A Sea of Poppies at the Tower of London

Ceramic poppies fill the Tower of London moat

“Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” is the title of an art installation taking place at the Tower of London from August to November of this year, the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.  The title comes from a poem written by an unknown soldier. People are invited to buy a ceramic poppy for the installation, up to a total of 888,246 poppies, one for every death in the British forces. The photo above is from The Guardian at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/01/tower-of-londons-ww1-remembrance-installation-share-your-photos-and-videos. The designer of the installation is Tom Piper.  Poppies are made by ceramic artist Paul Cummins.

The poppy above was photographed in the small military museum on the estate of Hever Castle, southwest of London.


The memories of World War I extend all over England this year, into the smallest villages in the country. Most towns have a memorial built to remember the local soldiers fallen in the
“Great War.”  Sadly, within a few short decades new names had to be added from each town, with the outbreak of the Second World War.

Soldiers who fell in battle were buried in identically marked graves, regardless of their social or military rank.


Many grieving families put up special memorials to their loved ones close to home. This plaque, in Salisbury Cathedral, poignantly remembers a nineteen-year-old soldier, Edward Wyndham Tennant. the son of a lord. He must have entered the war as an officer. He died in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. On the plaque above his marble relief portrait, a fellow soldier describes the young man’s leadership:  “When things were at their worst he would go up and down in the trenches cheering the men; when danger was greatest his smile was loveliest.”


Those who could not fight helped the war effort in other ways, in both great wars.  All of the great British country houses I’ve visited on this trip have displays recalling their days as hospitals or military bases. Operating rooms were established in kitchens, and convalescent wards occupied Great Halls. Young aristocratic women rolled up their sleeves and cheerfully served as nurses.


This is a year for Britons to recognize the sacrifices of those who served their country in the Great Wars.

Why I Love England, Mid-Trip


Country towns that used to be powerful have magnificent cathedrals.  The one at Salisbury is breathtaking. This cathedral was completed in 1258 and has not changed since then.

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The Gothic ceiling of Salisbury Cathedral is a marvel of engineering.  These beautiful Gothic ceilings always make me feel like I’m in an orderly forest of tall majestic trees whose branches intertwine far above the ground.

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In the countryside, a horse is still transportation.  This pretty girl was contentedly chomping grass outside the National Trust property of Mottisfont, while her owner visited the museum and probably also had a spot of tea in the tearoom.


Have I mentioned gardens, part of every historical and literary sight?  This lawn and flower bed grace the grounds at Uppark, a mansion where Queen Victoria’s son the Prince of Wales whiled away his time carousing.  The notorious playboy owner of Uppark finally settled down at age 70 when he married his milkmaid.  The writer H. G. Wells spent part of his boyhood at the mansion, where his mother worked as the housekeeper.


And then there are the flowerboxes right outside my bed and breakfast in Woodstock.  Yes, I love England!