war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper

The Connaught Rangers

Great War

The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Pity and St Martin was situated in Snargate Street near the base of the Grand Shaft leading up to the barracks. In the church was a memorial to the officers and men of the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Connaught Rangers who fell in the Great War. 

It was a tablet of brass on an oak base, and bore the words, "To the Glory of God, and in memory of their comrades fallen in the Great War, 1913-1918, this tablet was placed here by the 1st and 2nd Connaught Rangers, whilst stationed at Dover, October 1919. R.I.P."

It was unveiled on 7th November 1920 by Lieut-Colonel Jourdain, and blessed by Father Gifkins. Father Gifkins also conducted the dedication service. During his sermon he spoke of the duty of prayer for all those fallen in the war, for those still suffering from wounds, for the bereaved relatives, the mothers, wives, and orphans, and that at Armistice time it was especially appropriate to pray for ourselves, for the world in general in troubled times.

The buglers of the 2nd Battalion of the Connaught Rangers sounded The Last Post, and this was followed by the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and the hymn to St Patrick.

The memorial was made by C A Ashdown, of Dover.

We were told that the church was first opened in October 1897, and was used until 1940. During the Second World War torpedo boats outside the harbour scored a close hit. The windows of the church were blown out and the front wall was sucked three inches out of line.
the former church

The church lay derelict for nearly three decades, and water leaked through the shrapnel-damaged roof. The parquet floors were raised by the damp.

Large rods were used to stabilise the walls, and in 1967 the church was sold. Later it was bought by the Smye doorsRumsby family, and has been used for their business ever since.

Remnants of the church may still be seen. Amongst them are the doors, left, and, below, the parquet floor, and the apse, which is burrowed out from beneath the white cliffs.

parquet floor   apse

with grateful thanks to Philip Smye-Rumsby, and to Paul and Carol Smye-Rumsby
pictures, Simon Chambers

Copyright 2007/8 Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved