Restoration of Old Contemptibles Standard

A Standard carried by the First World War’s longest-serving veterans has been put on display in Bishop’s Stortford following a £10,000 restoration.

Now on display at Bishop’s Stortford Museum, the banner was proudly carried on ceremonial and remembrance occasions by the town’s members of the “Old Contemptibles”.

The name was adopted by the British soldiers who crossed the English Channel to face a vastly bigger German army at the outbreak of WW1, after being described by the Kaiser as a “contemptible little army”. The project to restore the worn and degraded standard, which previously hung in St Michael’s Church, dates back to 2006.

Terrie Archer, committee member of Bishop’s Stortford Royal British Legion, said “Steve Gutteridge, a member of the Royal British Legion, proposed moving the Standard from St Michael’s Church to the museum and he has fought tirelessly for all these years to see the conserved Standard on public view”.

The Standard underwent £9,500 of professional conservation work in St Albans in February before being loaned to Bishop’s Stortford Museum, run by the Rhodes Birthplace Trust, for ten years. Philip Dermot, who represented the Rhodes Birthplace Trust at the unveiling, said “it is thanks to Terri’s tenacity and drive, keeping the project at the top of our collective agenda, her success in obtaining funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and her positive disposition that we are standing here today admiring this display”. The funds have also been spent on a school resource pack connected to the Standard and oral history project.

The mayor of Bishop’s Stortford, Councillor Colin Woodward, has backed the project over the past decade, helping to negotiate red tap. He said “I’m pleased with the work everybody has done and I’m grateful for the work of Terrie Archer and the museum team. It shows us what our forefathers did and gives an opportunity to discuss the First World War, bringing it to the forefront for the present generation.  What has been done is pretty impressive, but it has been a long road”.

Great War Standard is given a new home
Church warden Philip Smith, Rosemary Thomson, Cllr Colin Woodward, Terrie Archer, deputy curator Alex Andrijevic, Royal British Legion members Cyril Banks and Steve Gutteridge with the Standard at Bishop’s Stortford Museum

Reporting by the Herts & Essex Observer, September 7, 2017.

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