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Revd Hilary Fife in St Barnabas Chapel 300 wide
Croydon hospital chapel is uncovering the history of its stained glass servicemen who died 100 years ago
14 November 2017

The local history of servicemen who died in the First World War has been rediscovered by the senior chaplain of Croydon University Hospital.

Amateur historian Revd Hilary Fife is calling on local residents to help her complete the history of the 19 servicemen, who are commemorated and individually named in the stained glass of St Barnabas Chapel in Croydon University Hospital.

On Remembrance Sunday (12 November) Revd Fife led a service to remember all those lost in conflict and to reveal the histories of seven of the men in the stained glass, all of whom were linked to Croydon Union Workhouse and died a century ago, in 1917, while serving their country.

She aims to complete the histories of all 19 servicemen in time for next year’s 100-year commemoration of the end of the conflict.

The windows were installed almost a century ago with funding from the Croydon Poor Law Guardians, and continue to have pride of place in the Chapel today.

The history of the Hospital goes back to its opening as the infirmary of Croydon Union Workhouse in 1885, with the Chapel also providing care when it opened 12 years later.

All these servicemen lived with the Poor Law, so they had experience of Union-supported welfare and the Workhouse. The first stained glass window commemorates 14 men who had been boys from the local Union Homes & Schools. The second stained glass window commemorates five officers who had worked in the Croydon Union, which ran the Workhouse.

These short summaries give a sense of the dramatic change in life, from poverty in Croydon to the horror of war, which these local people experienced:

Walter Alfred Redvers Bailey (3 March 1900 to 17 Nov 1917) was a believed to live at Mersham Road and then Woodville Road in Thornton Heath. A carpenter before the war, he then served as “Boy 1st Class” on several ships before his final posting on HMS Calypso. During missions to intercept German vessels he was killed, alongside all his crew, from a 12” shell and was buried at sea aged 17.

Charles Thomas Yewen (1897 to 25 Sept 1917) was born in 1897 and by 1901 lived in Thornton Road. Along with his father James (a stonemason) and his sister Margaret (aged 7), he was admitted to Croydon Union Workhouse on 15 December 1908. It would seem his mother had died in the Workhouse Infirmary (now the Woodcroft Wing of Croydon University Hospital) in 1907. Charles enlisted in Rosewald, Ely and served as a Private in the 1st Battalion of the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. He was killed in action on 25th September 1917. He is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

Revd Fife is calling for anyone with local knowledge to help her complete the stories of the stained glass servicemen. She said:

“Over the years I’ve worked here I’ve slowly curated the Chaplaincy and many hospital archives. History, and tracing family history, has long been a passion.

“The names in our beautiful hospital windows needed to have their stories told. The commemorations for the Great War centenary was the push I needed to get started and it would be fantastic to hear from anyone who can help me complete the picture.

“It would be very special to receive any photographs of these brave individuals, as I have none.”

If anyone wishes to provide Revd Fife with further information to help build these histories for commemorations in 2018, please contact her on or 020 8401 3105.


The two stained glass windows commemorating participants in the First World War show:

One commemorates the boys from the Union Homes & Schools and says “For King and Country. In honour of the boys who trained in our children’s homes who fell in the Great War 1914-1918”:
i. Walter Alfred Redvers Bailey
ii. Harry Barber
iii. Albert Barnett
iv. Robert Clive
v. George William Day
vi. Charles Peter Denyer
vii. Charles Percival Dyke
viii. Charles Gorfin
ix. E Hopcroft
x. A Jones
xi. T Phillips
xii. Frederick William Teviotdale
xiii. E Wells
xiv. Charles Thomas Yewen

The other commemorates officers from the Croydon Union and says “To the glory of God and in Memory of our fellow officers who fell in the Great War 1914-1918”:
i. William Henry Allen
ii. Harry Thomas Batson
iii. John Martins
iv. Leonard Stephen Stevens
v. Herbert Edward Voller

The Chapel is named after St Barnabas, the Patron Saint of Nursing. Another window in the Chapel commemorates those lost in World War Two.

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