Cyril Lomax: Life at the Somme 1916

A visitor at the Cyril Lomax exhibition

Serving as Chaplain to the 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, in World War I, Reverend Canon Cyril Lomax, saw the devastation during the Battle of the Somme.

Reverend Canon Cyril Lomax was Rector of Holy Trinity Church in Washington, Tyne and Wear, from 1899 to 1946. He went on to serve as Chaplain to the 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, in World War I.
Cyril, who was an accomplished artist and prolific letter writer, saw the devastation during the Battle of the Somme and described the reality of life in the trenches.
One of the most prominent North East army chaplains, his letters and diary were illustrated with intricate sketches showing humour, the mundane and the dreadfulness of war, now being displayed at Washington Old Hall until Monday 31 October.
Locally, Cyril played a part in many people’s lives who lived in the Hall and the surrounding village. There are stories from ex-residents who remember him, some whose parents and grandparents were married by him. 

Cyril was a big character and was reported to have ridden around the village on a white horse. He played an active part in saving Washington Old Hall in the 1930s and without his and others’ hard work Washington Old Hall would not be celebrating its 60th anniversary with the National Trust this October.
The idea of this fanstic exhibition was conceived by Friends of Washington Old Hall Bill Arbuckle and Ged Parker, Arbuckle knew of the illustrated letters that were held at the imperial war museum and brought the idea to exhibit them to the Old Hall.
Arbuckle said: “During World War I Lomax served in France as chaplain to the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and was at the Battle of the Somme from July to November 1916.
"After the war Cyril resumed parish duties and was a member of the Welcome Home Committee, which commissioned the Washington War Memorial. For many years he was President of the Washington Branch of the British Legion and became an active founder member of the Washington Old Hall Preservation Committee which was able to save the Hall from demolition.”
Lomax’s great, great nephew, Christopher Moore, attended the preview evening of the exhibition.
The core of Washington Old Hall is a seventeenth-century manor house. It was tenemented until the 1930s so was remodelled extensively for centuries.
Opened to the public in 1955 following refurbishment with much American funding and support (4 July Independence day is celebrated each year), there are now provide community activites and learning visits.
Normal opening times and admission charges apply for Washington Old Hall.