Appeal for Important Local Memorial

The Friends of St Helens Church have organised a series of events to help to raise money in aid of the repairs and restoration of the Garrard Memorial. Events started with a talk about Shackleton which raised more than £1750 and according to a spokesperson was a great evening with about 125 people in attendance and a waiting list for tickets!

The next event scheduled is an exciting afternoon hosted by award winning illustrator Nick Schon (pictured above). The village will be happily familiar with Nick’s other work from the painting of the Swan pub panels as a village project a few years ago.

Nick will draw his wonderful illustrations and talk about his work and his passion for teaching children to read. St Helen’s School hall, 1st December at 3.30 pm. This will be a popular event so please book your tickets early from Margaret Pearce on 01582 833581.

The Garrard family were substantial landowners in and around Wheathampstead. John, his father and his son Samuel were all Lord Mayors of London. Samuel held other honours including that of local magistrate and Master of the Grocers Company, one of the City Livery Companies which still exists to this day. The Antarctic explorer, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, owned the Lamer Park estate just outside the village. He took part in Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated attempt to reach the South Pole in 1911 and later recounted the journey in his memoirs, entitled 'The Worst Journey in the World'.

The seventeenth century Garrard Memorial in the north transept of St Helens Church is one of the most important Monuments of its type in Hertfordshire (pictured). The life size effigies of John Garrard and his wife, Elizabeth, lie on a tomb of marble and alabaster. Below them are statues of their fourteen children, those who died young are holding skulls.

Two rusting iron straps, part of a poor Victorian repair, hold this weighty memorial to the wall. Whilst it is being carefully watched, it needs repair and restoration to restore it to its former glory. According to Ruth Coles, Chair of The Friends of St Helen's Church, recent dry weather may have caused subsidence and be the cause of a new crack which has just appeared. 

Ruth explained that the cost of repair is estimated to be about £50,000. The Friends of St Helen’s Church are aiming to raise £10,000 before applying to grant making trusts to help them. Ruth said, “I am delighted that we are launching our appeal to fund the restoration of the unique 17th century Garrard Memorial. We are holding a whole series of events in the next twelve months to begin our fundraising. We do hope Wheathampstead residents will support us.”

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