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Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: A Link with Caen

Looking Back

Friday October 31 2014

Looking Back: A Link with Caen

A story from November 1944 about an appeal to help a town literally decimated by the Second World War

1944 picture of the city of Caen in ruins

Caen, Normandy, in ruins after bombings of July 8-9, 1944 (public domain)

BETWEEN the grievously shattered town of Caen and this country there is a link of which few, perhaps, are aware.

The fine creamy-yellow stone of which the interior of the beautiful Wilton Church at Hawick is built came from a famous quarry at Caen.

These quarries are said to have been in use since the days of William the Conqueror, and stone from them was used in the building of Winchester and Canterbury Cathedrals, of Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster, and of a large number of country churches in England.

In Scotland, Wilton Church [in Hawick] is probably the only one built of Caen stone, but the striking pictorial panels which decorate the wide pulpit of Trinity Church, Irvine, also came from Caen.

After Caen had been liberated - with a tenth of the whole population killed and three-fourths of its buildings in ruin, the Countess of Rosebery and others issued an appeal for temporary relief funds for the survivors. This appeal was read to the Wilton congregation by their minister, the Rev. J. Donald Beattie, and there was an immediate response. Gifts of much-needed clothing and a cheque were sent to the relief of the sufferers of Caen.