Outside the Church is the War Memorial dedicated to all the men of the Parish who died in World War 1. It was erected, in 1919 (see below). The Memorial was moved from its original position when the roundabout was built at the top of Porthill Bank in 1953.porthill

The Church and War Memorial sometime before 1928 1
The idea for a Memorial was thought of before the Great War had even finished. There was an article in The Weekly Sentinel in July 1918 about the Church’s plans for a memorial. 2
St. Andrew’s, Porthill
Proposed War Memorial
At the time of the Solemn Memorial Requiem for the men from Porthill who have fallen in battle or by sickness in the war held at St. Andrew’s Church last November, the question of a permanent memorial was raised by may of the relatives on the men commemorated.
Since then the matter has been considered in detail, and the congregation of St. Andrew’s Church have felt that in view of the fact that the church occupies what is distinctly the most central and attractive site in the district, it was up to them to take the lead in promoting a scheme. So the subject has been well debated at recent meetings of the congregation, and a scheme has been drawn up. Eventually, in any case, some form of memorial would have been placed in the two churches of the parish of St. Andrew’s, Porthill, and this will still be done, but this part of the scheme will be left until after the war. But it is felt that some form of open-air-memorial is needed that will be seen by all the people of the district, and will be a constant reminder to them of the glorious heroism and self-sacrifice of the men who have gone from their midst.
It has been decided, therefore, to make this the principle part of the scheme, and it will take the form of a very large wayside cross on a massive stone base, to be erected on the land in front of the church, facing down Porthill. A site will be cleared for the purpose and around the cross slabs of stone will be placed in a large semi-circle, upon which will be inscribed the names of all the men from Porthill parish who fall in this war, without respect to class or creed. The advice of the Wayside Cross Society has been sought, and a member of the Council, Mr. F. C. Eden, a well-know church architect, has drawn up the plans of the memorial which are to be seen in the porch of St. Andrew’s Church.
A general appeal will be made towards the end of August, in order that the part of the scheme may be carried out as soon as possible as there is a strong desire on the part of many of the relatives of the men concerned that, in view of the length of the war, something at least should be done now, so that they may feel that their loved ones are not forgotten.

The Staffordshire Sentinel on Tuesday, June 3, 1919, tells us of the Memorial’s dedication the day before on Monday 2nd June 1919.

War Memorial at Porthill

Impressive Dedication Service.
The Bishop’s Address

The memorial which has been erected at St. Andrew’s, Porthill, to the memory of the 126 men of the district who were killed during the war, was unveiled on Monday, and dedicated by the Bishop of Lichfield at a largely attended and most impressive service.
The memorial has been placed at the eastern corner of the churchyard, and stands in a commanding position facing Porthill. It consists of a crucifix, constructed of English oak, resting o a large stone base, with steps leading up to it. It is surrounded by a circle of turf, the whole being enclosed by a hedge of yew trees. The names of the fallen heroes have been inscribed on stone tablets, which will be laid in the turf when it has set sufficiently for the purpose. At the base of the memorial an inscription carved in the stonework reads “Remember before God our Gallant Dead. 1914 – 1919. Jesu Mercy.”
The scheme was prepared by Mr. F. C. Eden, a London architect and designer, and a member of the Wayside Cross Society, of which Lord Shaftesbury is President. The construction of the crucifix was entrusted to Mr. J. Cooke, of Porthill, and Messrs. W. and R. Mellor, Burslem, were responsible for the stonework, while the yew trees were supplied by Mr. H. Matthews, of Stockton Brook. The laying out of the site, the putting down of the turf, and the planting of the trees was undertaken by a band of voluntary workers headed by Mr. E. Howard. The cost of the memorial has been about £200, which has been raised by the willing contributions both large and small, of over 500 residents in the district. In addition to the crucifix, it is proposed to prepare a Roll of Honour on parchment, suitably bound, to be kept as one of the treasures of the church, and the completion of the scheme provides for a further memorial inside the church, which will probably take the form of wrought iron screen and gates for the chancel. The arrangements for the carrying out of the memorial scheme, and the raising of money, were in the hands of a special committee, working in conjunction with the Church Finance Committee with the Vicar (the Rev. J. A. Nash) as chairman.

The Service

The dedication opened with a brief memorial service in the Church, conducted by the Vicar. There was a crowded congregation, including many relatives of the fallen heroes, and the 1st Porthill Troop of Boy Scouts, who took a prominent part in the ceremony. In addition to the Bishop of Lichfield and the Vicar, the clergy present included the Rev. J. W. Dunne, Rector and Rural Dean of Newcastle; the Rev. G. C. de Renzi, Vicar of St. Mary’s, Tunstall, and Rural Dean of Hanley; the Rev. F. W. Booty, Vicar of Wolstanton; the Rev. T. Hervey Rabone, Vicar of Sneyd, Burslem; the Rev. H. H. Fox, Assistant Priest of St. Andrew’s, Porthill; and the Revs. G. B. Bardsley and R. M. Clark, of Tunstall.
The service opened with Tallis’ funeral music played as a voluntary, and included the hymns, “Let Saints on Earth” and “O Valiant Hearts”.
Before the singing of the opening hymn, the Vicar, from the chancel steps, briefly acknowledged the wide amount of support the scheme had received. Many, he said, who had not seen eye to eye with them on many matters, had yet felt it their duty and privilege to give; and there were no fewer than 500 individual subscriptions, which showed how widespread was the interest in the memorial. At the same time, he wished to emphasise once more that it was purely parochial and religious, and did not pretend to be in any way a local or civic scheme.
The Bishop of Lichfield, subsequently gave a short address, based on the words, “He Ever Liveth” (Epistle to Hebrews VII, 25). Such a message, said Dr. Kempthorne, came home to them with special force and appropriateness at a service like that, for it was in the life, the abiding life, and the work, the continuing work, of their Lord Jesus Christ that their hope rested.
During the playing of Chopin’s Funeral March the Bishop, clergy, choir, and congregation, proceeded by the Cross bearer (Mr. P. Bourne), and the Churchwardens (Messrs. P. E. Wood and F. Taylor), proceeded to the eastern end of the churchyard, where a large number of people had gathered to witness the unveiling of the memorial. The Bishop, clergy, and choir passed up the steps, which were lined by the Boy Scouts, and grouped around the crucifix. While the well-known hymn, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross,” was being sung the memorial was unveiled, and afterwards the Bishop solemnly dedicated it to the “memory of those who had died gloriously for their country”.

The Memorial and its Meaning

In a brief address, delivered from the foot of the monument, Dr. Kempthorne said they could not possibly have had a better memorial. It was a good memorial, because it was likely enough that just before those lads whom they loved laid down their lives, they had seen on the fields of France or Flanders some wayside crucifix, just like that. Again, it was a good memorial, because it told them of the truth – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It was also a good memorial because it spoke to them of hope. When they saw the memorial day by day it would serve to remind them, in the first place, that He who hung and suffered on the Cross was the Son of God, and to show them that God loved and God cared. The second message, he thought, was as to what really mattered and as to what was of most value. How did people reckon the value of a man – by his success, by the amount of money that he had made, by the pleasure and power that his money had gained for him, and by what he had done for himself. He was afraid they sometimes did, but the Cross told them to reckon a man’s value by the service that he gave, by the worth of the work that he did for God and for the community in which he lived; not by his success, nor by his money. There was never a deed done of such supreme worth as that which was done on the Cross, and there was no money in it; there was no success, as the world reckoned success, but there was supreme service for those whom He loved. Service was the essence of their lives. It was by their service that their worth could be reckoned, and it was the service of those dear lads who had laid down their lives that made them of such value. Also, as the Cross looked out upon them as they came up the hill from their work in the evenings, it would say, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” Christ was in their midst, and from the Cross He drew them to Him that they may follow Him on the path of service, until one day they would meet Him and those whom they had loved by His Throne in the World Beyond. Let that Cross ever speak to them day by day of the love of God, of the true value of life, of the attractive power of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of His constant presence in their midst to guide them, to uplift them, and to lead them onward to the City of their God.
A most impressive part of the ceremony was the reading by the Vicar of the Roll of Honour, followed immediately by the sounding of the Last Post by the buglers, while th e flags were lowered, to be raised again as the notes of Reveille rang out. The service closed with the singing of the hymn, “Abide with me,” and the Blessing pronounced by the Bishop.
Prior to the unveiling of the memorial, the Bishop blessed the two large flags which have been presented by Mr. and Mrs. C. Billington and Miss Billington in memory of the late Lieut. Leslie Billington, and which are mounted on flagstaffs on either side of the memorial.

There were a number of letters to The Sentinel, before and after the Memorial was erected, objecting to the type of Memorial chosen.

Here are two. It is interesting to think that despite these rather strenuous objections, the Memorial has now been in place for over 100 years and will continue to do so for many many years to come!

The Staffordshire Sentinel Friday, July 4 1919

War Memorials.

(To the Editor of the “Staffordshire Sentinel.”)

Dear Sir, – Under this heading, may I be allowed to say a few words in protest of the War Memorial chosen by St. Andrew’s Church, Porthill, to keep fresh the memory of the boys who gave their lives that the world may be made safe for Democracy.
I have seen many war memorials the world over, but never one so ghastly and ill-placed as the one on the highway at Porthill.
As a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I feel I have a perfect right to protest – and no language could be too strong – against the authorities of the church for exposing such a sacred institution of our faith to the criticism of the passing crowd.
On the battlefields of France and Flanders, Christ did not appear as the Crucified, but as a “risen” Lord, as the Victor over Death, and as the Captain of a conquering Host. Not as a victim to the Cross, nor as a scapegoat of the crowd, but as King of Kings and as a Lord of Lords.
If the boys of St. Andrew’s Church who have so nobly given their all could come back, the War Memorial would be repulsive to them. They would, with all reverence, tear it down and erect one more in tune with the spirit in which they went forward in the cause of righteousness.
I remain, dear sir, your cordially and sincerely.
Lieutenant, New York

There was another letter in the Staffordshire Sentinel on 30th January 1922.
Calvary as War Memorial
 (To the Editor of the “Staffordshire Sentinel”)
Sir, – In view of Chancellor Talbot’s decision – which I enclose – it would be interesting to know if he granted a faculty for the erection of the unsightly thing at Porthill Church. If not, evidently the proper thing to be done is to take steps to have it removed – a course which has been successfully taken in other places – Guildford for example.
Yours faithfully
P.S. I enclose my card.
The correspondent encloses the following cutting from “The Churchman Magazine”:
Calvary Crucifix Officially Condemned
Chancellor Talbot K.C., held a Consistory Court at Lichfield on January 10th, and declined to grant an application by the Vicar and Churchwardens of All Saints, Streetly, near Wallsall, for a faculty confirming the erection of a Calvary as a War Memorial. The principle grounds of the refusal were that the Memorial took the form of a figure generally regarded in this country as specifically distinctive of the Roman Church, and that, in its present position, it was offensive to good taste and propriety, and was calculated to cause distress and shock in the minds of residents and passers-by. The same Chancellor, with great inconsistency has allowed an idolatrous erection at Wolverhampton.

As some background, the Churchman’s Magazine was (and is) produced by one of the most Conservative Evangelical wings of the Church, which generally dislikes anything that hints of being of a Catholic nature. So it’s not surprising this particular correspondent didn’t like the Calvary – this particular tradition would only have empty crosses in church!


Memorial 1 (Medium) Memorial 2
The Memorial in its original position on a cold 1950’s day 3
Old postcard taken sometime before 1953 with the Memorial in its original position
100_1908 (Medium)
The memorial before the 2018 restoration
By each side of the Memorial are tablets commemoration all the men of the Parish killed in WW1. The Scouts are on two separate tablets.

  1. Church & Memorial photo courtesy of the Churches of Britain and Ireland website & Kevin Gordon
  2. Sentinel article courtesy of Geoff Mayer
  3. 1950’s Church & Memorial photos taken by W. T. Vickers