Bradford church with links to The Unknown Soldier opens its doors for WW1 anniversary

HONOUR: St James Church Vicar Steve Lees holding a picture of the Rev David Baildon, who came up with the idea of the Unknown Soldier tomb at Westminster Abbey.

HONOUR: St James Church Vicar Steve Lees holding a picture of the Rev David Baildon, who came up with the idea of the Unknown Soldier tomb at Westminster Abbey.

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

A BRADFORD church, which has a link to the Unknown Soldier tomb in Westminster Abbey, opened its doors for an exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of World War One.

St James Church, in Bolton Road, has a special connection to the tragic events of The Great War as The Reverend David Railton, who was vicar there between 1927 and 1931, came up with the idea of the tomb of the unknown warrior in the London Abbey.

He witnessed first hand the conflict in France as a war chaplain and the tragedy of thousands of men whose bodies could not be identified and the distress this caused to their families.

Railton had seen a grave marked by a rough cross while serving in the British Army as a chaplain on the Western Front, which bore the pencil-written legend 'An Unknown British Soldier'.

He wanted the lost men to be remembered and came up with the idea of the Unknown Soldier’s tomb.

The Reverend Steve Lees, current Vicar of St James, said: “Rev David Railton’s idea gave honour and dignity to the memory of these men by symbolically burying one representative amongst kings and rulers in the abbey.

"It’s great to discover we have a local link to something that is so important to so many."

Meanwhile, St James marked the centenary of the start of the conflict by opening its doors for a two-day exhibition yesterday and Sunday.

The exhibition will also be held from 11.30am to 1pm this coming Sunday.

Residents were invited to the church to discover their parish church, commemorate the war and remember those from the parish who sacrificed their lives during the global conflict.

Jenny Medley, St James Church lay reader and keen historian, said: “We’ve created a display detailing the lives of the men remembered on our war memorial, as well as a history trail of the our old church, one for children, one for adults."

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