Exhibition on Washington chaplain’s diary during Battle of the Somme

Cyril Lomax's great, great nephew, Christopher Moore, attending the exhibition preview in Washington Old Hall.
Cyril Lomax's great, great nephew, Christopher Moore, attending the exhibition preview in Washington Old Hall.
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An exhibition of wartime letters, illustrations and diary extracts from one of the most prominent North East army chaplains is on show at Washington Old Hall this summer.

The Hall, managed by the National Trust, will piece together the writings of Rev Canon Cyril Lomax, who described the reality of life in the trenches at the Battle of the Somme.

The joint venture between the trust and the Friends of Washington Hall will run until the end of October.

The exhibition was conceived by the Friends of Washington Old Hall’s Bill Arbuckle and Ged Parker.

Bill knew of the illustrated letters that were held at the Imperial War Museum and brought the idea to exhibit them.

It was an opportunity not to be missed and through thorough research Ged managed to trace living relatives who generously loaned Cyril’s diary from 1916-17 to be included.

Bill said: “During World War I Lomax served in France as chaplain to the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and was at the Battle of the Somme from July to November 1916.

“After the war, Cyril resumed parish duties and was a member of the Welcome Home Committee, which commissioned the Washington War Memorial.

“For many years he was President of the Washington Branch of the British Legion and became an active founder member of the Washington Old Hall Preservation Committee, which was able to save the Hall from demolition.”

Sarah Murray, National Trust property operations manager of Washington Old Hall, said: “Cyril played a part in many people’s lives who lived in the Hall and the surrounding village.”

“We often hear stories from ex-residents who remember him, some whose parents and grandparents were married by him.

“He was a big character and was reported to have ridden around the village on a white horse.

“It is heart-warming to be sharing such an intimate collection of his letters and his diary, especially as he played an active part in saving Washington Old Hall in the 1930s

“Without his and his and others’ hard work we would not be celebrating the 60th anniversary with the National Trust this October.”