The Ewell Great War Bench

Ewell Bench in Garden
Ewell Bench in Mrs. Meineck's Garden
Image courtesy of Hazel Ballan ©2014

Frederick and Lilian Hopkinson, and their younger son Cecil moved to Garbrand Hall in Ewell after buying it from David Willis on 18 February 1919. At some point they commissioned a memorial oak bench to be made and along the back of the bench had carved the following:
"IN HONOURED MEMORY OF THE MEN OF EWELL WHO SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918".
The bench was also a memorial to their eldest son Hugh James Pearson Hopkinson. A brass plaque reads:
"THIS SEAT WAS GIVEN BY MR & MRS HOPKINSON OF GARBRAND HALL IN LOVING MEMORY OF THEIR ELDEST SON HUGH J. P. HOPKINSON. LT. R. E. WHO FELL AT GALLIPOLI NOVEMBER 1915"
Hopkinson bench plaque
Hopkinson bench plaque
Image courtesy of Hazel Ballan ©2014

It is believed that the Ewell Great War memorial bench was originally placed in St. Mary's churchyard in Ewell.

Many years later, the bench that Hugh's parents had dedicated to him and the fallen men of Ewell was vandalised. Fortunately a local resident, Mrs. Barbara Meineck, who was working at Ewell Castle School, rescued it. On 15 August 2014 she wrote:
"Over 30 years ago I was working at Ewell Castle School in the village. One day, crossing the courtyard on my way back to class, I saw a large wooden seat being loaded into a van. I noticed it because it was in a bad state of repair and had been vandalised with a saw or knife. The woodwork tech told me that he had been given it to repair in the workshop but felt it was beyond repair and he was taking it to the dump. I saw the inscription and the brass plaque on the front of the seat and was sure it should be saved and I knew the man who could do it! My husband Frank. Consequently it was delivered to my house and soon the repairs were done as Frank loved his hobby of carpentry and D.I.Y.

It has been a wonderful seat - the family and many friends have sat on it and talked about its history and how we saved it.

Now on this centenary remembrance of the beginning of the Great War I feel I must return it to its rightful place in Ewell - much as it holds special memories of my late husband. I have loved having it in my garden all these years."
The bench has since been returned to the grounds of the demolished Garbrand Hall and is on display in Bourne Hall Museum.

Ewell Bench in Museum
Ewell Bench in Bourne Hall Museum
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert ©2014

We would like to thank Barbara and her late husband Frank Meineck for saving, preserving and returning this Ewell Great War memorial to the people of Ewell village.

Hazel Ballan ©2014



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