Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin

The Cavendish Crosses

Display of crosses on the walls of the church

Wooden Crosses from the Battlefields of World War One

The wooden crosses displayed in the Tower Room of St Mary’s Church were made by the carpenters of the WW1 Divisions, using any wood they had available, including ammunition boxes. They were placed on the graves where the men had fallen on the battlefields in Flanders and France. Many crosses were later moved to official War Cemeteries and subsequently replaced with permanent headstones.

Cavendish lost 33 men during that war – 30 directly due to the fighting on the Western Front, two from their injuries when they were back in England (now buried in Cavendish Cemetery), and one ‘old soldier’ who died in London from malaria, probably contracted during his pre-war service in India. Of the 30 who died on the Western Front, only 18 men have identified graves. The original wooden crosses for eleven of these, nine from the battlefields in France and two from Belgium, were brought to Cavendish after the war. Two crosses for the men who died from their wounds are also displayed.

How did so many crosses come back to this small Suffolk village?

For more of this story, and to see the World War 1 Crosses on display, why not visit St Marys. Details of the church’s location, community and history can be found here.