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The Golden Chapter

The Golden Chapter of the Great War 1914 – 1918

The Golden Chapter was kept in St Mary’s Church for many years following its dedication on 1st April 1920. It is a beautifully illuminated record of the men from Purton who served in WW1.

In 2014 it was decided that the book is a significant part of our heritage and should be preserved and protected so arrangements were made for it to be restored by the Conservation Department at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham. The Parish Council helped to fund this process which took a while but the result was very pleasing. Since its return the Golden Chapter has been installed in Purton Museum where it will remain in an appropriate and secure environment.

It was decided to produce two copies of the Golden Chapter with additional information included. Bob Lloyd undertook a decade of research to establish a complete list of the men and women connected with Purton who were involved in WW1; there were many more than was realised in 1920. In order to make all the facts available to anyone interested in family history, or the village in the early twentieth century generally, members of the Purton Historical Society have incorporated Bob’s work with the original names and dates into a longer book. There is more information about those who died and the survivors in three extra sections, while thirty three other names have been added to the list. The new copies of the Golden Chapter were due to be bound in 2020 but the Covid pandemic and lockdowns caused a frustrating two year delay.

This project has been funded by a legacy in memory of Brian Freegard, the Museum Curator from 2009 until 2012. He was the instigator of the Heritage Lottery funded project to mark the 50th anniversary of the PHS by commemorating the bicentenary of the death of the 5th Astronomer Royal, Revd Dr Nevil Maskelyne, who is buried in St Mary’s Churchyard.

The two books are the result of a collaboration between the PHS, namely Dr John and Jean Belt, also Heather Ponting-Bather of In Touch Design and Print, together with the Vicar, Revd Ian Tweedie-Smith. Additional funding came from the PHS, St Mary’s Church and a donation in memory of John.

These important historical documents were dedicated during the morning service in St Mary’s Church on Remembrance Sunday 13th November 2022. The congregation included members of the PHS and the Royal British Legion. One book has been given to Purton Museum and the other is in the care of St Mary’s Church. Both are available for research by special arrangement.

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