Gallipoli chapel

The chapel on the south side of the Chancel, originally dedicated to St Agnes, is now better known as the Gallipoli Chapel; the connection between Holy Trinity Church and the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-1916 lies chiefly in the personality of the vicar of the parish at that time, the Revd Henry Hall. Henry Hall had already had a distinguished academic and educational career when he arrived in Eltham in 1907; he had been an Exhibitioner at St John’s College, Cambridge, and Headmaster of Reigate and Totnes Grammar Schools.  He remained Vicar of Holy Trinity until his death in 1942.

Soon after arriving in Eltham he was appointed a Chaplain to the Territorials, and he volunteered to leave his parish temporarily to become Chaplain to the British Army’s 29th Division while they were preparing for active duty abroad.  He went with them when they were posted to the Middle East and accompanied them on 25th April 1915 when they landed on the West Beach at Gallipoli.  Like many chaplains in the Great War, Henry Hall showed great courage; he stayed with his men, celebrating Holy Communion for them in the midst of the battle, for which he was mentioned in dispatches.  During this tour of duty he was invalided to Alexandria in July and demobilised the following April.

Shortly after his return to Eltham, and because he was so moved by the experience in the Dardanelles that was to haunt him throughout his life, Henry Hall resolved to set up a memorial to the men of the 29th Division who did not return to Britain.  The relatively new St Agnes Chapel at Holy Trinity provided an appropriate setting; thus it was transformed into the Gallipoli Memorial Chapel, dedicated as a permanent memorial to the 29th Division and unveiled as such by General Sir Ian Hamilton on 25th April 1917.

The original St Agnes Chapel had been funded in1909 by Mrs Edith Gertrude Latter, resident of Southend Hall (the site now occupied by Inca Drive), in memory of her sister.  Two of the windows on the south side also commemorate an older sister of Mr Latter and an aunt of Mrs Latter.  These show the Virgin and Child surrounded by angels and the Holy Family’s Flight into Egypt.  The central window on that side tells the story of St Martin of Tours.  Look out for a small tower within the wheatsheaf logo; this indicates that these windows were manufactured by the firm of C.E. Kempe and Co. which by then was under the chairmanship of Kempe’s cousin, Walter Tower.

Working with the firm of Sir Arthur Blomfield & Sons, C E Kempe & Co were responsible for all the original decoration of the St Agnes Chapel as well as many other embellishments throughout the church over the next few years.  The chapel’s East Window is by Tom Carter Shapland and is a 1957 replacement of the earlier Kempe window, destroyed in 1944.  In the centre is Christ in Glory.  On the left is St Agnes, to whom the chapel was originally dedicated, and beyond her is the Baptism of Christ, surmounted by the symbols of SS Matthew and Mark.  To the right of Christ in Glory is his Mother, and beyond her the Last Supper, surmounted by the symbols of SS Luke and John.