Dyrham South Gloucestershire

Private Christopher George Ball of the 12th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment enlisted on September 21st 1914. Just less than two years later, he would be dead; killed on September 3rd 1916 in France. He was 26 years of age and the only son of his parents.

Dyrham may be more familiar to some for Dyrham Park. Owned by the National Trust, the house and parkland can be ambled and perused, food can by nibbled, coffee can be drunk. But adjacent to the house lies the 13th century church which existed when manor houses and not Georgian estates existed.



So if you should leave the café, the house or its ornamental gardens, the church harbours a few secrets of the place beyond the wealth and fancy architecture. For when war occurs, it has a nasty habit of making all men the same, all families the same; all loss the same weighty feeling of hopelessness.


Inside the church, personal memorials line the walls. Some to the wealthy and charitable, but some to those who fell in action for the common good.


Christopher George Ball


Private Christopher George Ball of the 12th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment enlisted on September 21st 1914. Just less than two years later, he would be dead; killed on September 3rd 1916 in France. He was 26 years of age and the only son of his parents.


Through grief or sorrow, his parents George and Charlotte Ball placed a memorial tablet in the church at Dyrham. On it, they wrote about their son and included three lines from Robert Browning:

Scared to the memory of Christopher George Ball Pte 12th Glos. Regt. Only son of George and Charlotte Ball Of this parish Enlisted September 21st 1914, Killed in France September 3rd 1916 Aged 26 years Strive – and hold cheap the strain Learn – nor account the pain Dare – never grudge the throe

Service Number 14853, Private Christopher George Ball has no grave to call his own. His name lies on Thiepval, the memorial to the missing from the Somme.


Born in 1890 at Dyrham, he enlisted at Bristol with the 12th Battalion Glosters, the Bristol service regiment and made it to France on the 21st November 1915.


His father was a gardener working at Dyrham Park, and Christopher then left home to work at Tortworth estate as a domestic gardener, just like his father. When it was announced that he had been killed in action, his parents put an entry into the newspaper. It read: ‘In proud and loving memory of Private Christopher George Ball, only and dearly beloved son.’


His name appears on the war memorial tablet on the wall of the church. A brass plaque with eight names. In the churchyard, his name lies faded on the war memorial cross with its comfortable octagonal base.



Henry Winter Blathwayt


On two similar memorial tablets, the extended life of the Blathwayt family is revealed. One ponders curiosity and requires further investigation…


Henry Wynter Blathwayt Born 19th September 1877 Killed in action November 30th 1917 Royal Field Artillery

He was first cousin to the late Rev. W. T. Blathwayt of Dyrham Park which is probably why his memorial stands where it does.


Major Henry Wynter Blathwayt belonged to A Battery, 74th Brigade, of the Royal Field Artillery. He was killed in action on November 30th 1917. He was the youngest son of the late Charles George Blathwayt of the Indian Civil Service, and great nephew of the late Colonel Blathwayt of Dyrham Park. He died at the age of 40 years.


Born in 1877 in Bombay, India, he went to Rugby School and thence to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He passed out of Woolwich into the Royal Artillery in 1900. He reached the rank of Major in October 1914. He served with the Indian Expeditionary Force in India and Mesopotamia; invalided home in 1916 before service in England and Ireland. He was sent to France in October 1917 to take command of his battery before he was killed at Cambrai on November 30th 1917. He died from wounds received in battle, his brigade was involved in heavy fighting against German forces during the Battle of Cambrai.



He was buried at Orival Wood Cemetery in Flesquieres; five miles south-west of Cambrai in northern France. He left a wife and three small children. His eldest son would become heir to Dyrham Park on his cousin’s death.


His original grave marker lies inside the church. An echo of the past refrains.