Down a single track lane a little muddy in places, round bends and swinging past open fields, I eventually got to Lower Failand. Or more specifically St Bartholomew’s Church at Lower Failand. Not far from the environs of Bristol but in more rural climes where this afternoon although the rain threatens, the sunshine peaks through.
A troupe of walkers trudge past as I gaze forth at the Victorian church that nestles here on a ridge line above Bristol. Laden with scarves and fluffy bobble hats, knee deep in conversation they do not dwell on the pretty little church as they pass by. Maybe they have seen it before. Built in the late 19th century, it is of a time when many well to-do people lived at Clifton in Bristol or here at Failand.
One of those such men was Edward Fry. He is buried here at St Bartholomew’s. Son of Joseph Fry of the famous Fry family of Quakers. He became a well-known judge and arbitrator of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. He also attended the 1907 Hague Convention as part of the British delegation. The second after the 1898 Convention. It was designed to formalise the laws of wars and war crimes. Many of those rules agreed in 1898 and 1907 were violated in the Great War; many of them led to the outbreak of war including the invasion of sovereign nations and in the war itself, the use of poison gas. The 1907 Hague Convention remains to this day the protocols and restrictions of modern warfare.
His grave looms large over this small graveyard.
Here lies the body of Edward Fry P.C. G.C.B. Lord Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeal Plenipotentiary to the Peace Conference at The Hague 1907 Born 7 Nov 1827 Died 18 Oct 1918
He was a man of noble mind, grave virtue and honest faith and unfailing devotion to justice gave weight to his public acts and his patient love of knowledge enriched the painful seclusion of his life at home
He died in his 91st year at Failand House, a man of solid opinions and a belief in the rule of law just a few short weeks before the Great War ended; a war in many ways he tried to prevent. His daughter lived in Failand House until her death when the estate was given to the National Trust but the house remains in private hands.
Albert Thomas Gale
Whilst Edward Fry’s grave stands tall and proud, it is perhaps a quieter memento that speaks louder to the soul. It doesn’t stand so tall but maybe speaks of a young man and of pride, of love and of remembrance far beyond the grave.
A son and a parents’ love.
Gone not from memory or love but gone to our father’s home above.
It is written not here at Failand but at Arras in northern France. At Achicourt Road Cemetery in Achicourt. There are 123 of them there. But just one, just one who hailed from Failand.
His name was Albert Thomas Gale. He was 19 years. The son of Adelaide and Frank Gale. Albert was their oldest child, their first born son. They lived at Failand Lodge Cottage.
Albert died from wounds he received in action. Service Number 55031 Private Albert Thomas Gale of the 193rd Company, Machine Gun Corps; he had served as 148498 in the Royal Field Artillery. He was buried there in Achicourt in 1917. His date of death April 9th 1917.
His name lies on the Lower Failand War Memorial plaque inside St Bartholomew’s Church. One of eight who died in World War One; and three from World War Two.
But his memorial lies upon his parents’ grave in the churchyard.
Also of their son Albert Thomas Died in action France 1917 aged 19
But ‘gone not from memory or love…’
The unreturned of Lower Failand remembered here where once he was.