Altar Marks Brothers' WWI Sacrifice

HISTORICAL research has unearthed the gallant stories of the WWI deaths of three army officer brothers linked to the Woodchester Mansion estate.

Cpt Aylmer Jarrett DSO

Investigations have revealed that the military Jarrett brothers Charles, Hubert and Aylmer, relatives of the mansion’s builder William Leigh, all perished in the Great War.

Details of their bravery, and of the service of most of the nine men from nearby Nympsfield village who also died, have just gone on display in the mansion library.

The tales of bravery were amassed by mansion volunteer Liz Davenport especially for the current national commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1914-18 war.

William Leigh’s three surviving grandchildren were Vincent, who had by 1914 inherited Woodchester Mansion, Blanche and Beatrice, Ms Davenport said.

“After their mother’s early death in 1871 Vincent, Blanche and Beatrice Leigh were brought up at The Cottage in Woodchester Park by their grandmother Mrs Eliza Jarrett,” said Ms Davenport.

“There was a military tradition in her family and both her sons were in the Indian army … the second, Lt Col Henry Sullivan Jarrett, had six sons with his wife Agnes.  The boys often stayed at Woodchester Park with their grandmother while their parents were in India.”

Major Charles JarrettOf the six one died of scarlet fever as a child and another went on to become an eminent Dominican monk. Charles, Hubert and Aylmer followed their father into the army, and fourth soldier Aubrey survived the war to continue his army career before succeeding his father as trustee of the Woodchester estate

“During the first World War the Woodchester estate reflected the situation of the whole country,” Ms Davenport said.  “Men were called up to fight … the UK lost about a million dead in the Great War …this impact was felt by the Leigh family and by the other families living on the Woodchester estate.”

“The small community close to this secluded Cotswold valley showed factors reproduced countrywide … the breadth of the conflict … and of course the scale of the loss of life incurred.”

The loss of the three Jarrett brothers was commemorated by the gift of the altar at the opening of St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Nympsfield in 1923.

The motivation for building the church and part of the funding came from the dead men’s cousins the Misses Blanche and Beatrice Leigh.

Grade One listed Woodchester Mansion, that dates from around 1857, is now opened to the public six days a week by the independent charity the Woodchester Mansion Trust.

It attracts visitors because its unfinished state is a monument to the stone mason’s craft.

The surrounding Woodchester Park is now owned by the National Trust.



Major Charles Jarrett, 40, from the 1st Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers, was shot and died on April, 1915, after the landing on V beach at Cape Helles.  He is buried in Turkey.

Lt Col Hubert Jarrett, of the 19th Punjabis and 57th Wiles Rifles,died in Delhi, India, on December 1919, aged 43, of pneumonia resulting from his active service.  He is buried in the Delhi War Cemetery.

Captain Aylmer Jarrett, 36,  holder of the Distinguished Service Medal, was shot on June 22nd, 1915, and died near Ypres.  He is buried in the Hop Store Cemetery, Ypres.

August 2014

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