THE LAST of the stained glass windows that used to be in the Depot Royal Marine Church when the Marines were in barracks at Deal have been installed in the church of St Alban at the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre at Lympstone in Devon.
The windows were being stored on Whale Island, Portsmouth, for many years. The barracks at Deal was the scene of the murder of 11 Royal Marines bandsmen by the Irish Republican Army in 1989. The site of the chapel is now a memorial garden to them. Their murderers went free.
The rest of the windows had been distributed to other naval chapels after the barracks at Deal were shut down and the chapel demolished. Now they give a ‘churchy’ feeling to the formerly very plain chapel at Lympstone, making it more welcoming.
They depict saints: St Augustine of Canterbury, St Thomas Becket, St George, St Hubert, and St Martin of Tours, a patron saint of soldiers.
The St Augustine window bears the inscription: ‘To the Glory of God and in honoured memory of the Royal Marines and other worshippers in the Church who gave their lives during the Great War 1914-1918, these three windows, St Martin, St Augustine and St Thomas-a-Becket, are erected by the congregation.’
The chaplains at the Commando Training Centre are using the windows in the classes in church where they unpack the idea of the four elements of the Commando Spirit – courage, determination, unselfishness and cheerfulness in the face of adversity.
The stained glass is displayed in back lit boxes, which with their electric light and plastering were funded by the Naval Service Amenities Fund.