(left to right): The Royal Star & Garter Homes Chief Executive Andy Cole: The Leader of Richmond Council, Cllr Gareth Roberts; The Mayor of Richmond, Cllr Nancy Baldwin; The Royal Star & Garter Homes Chairman Major-General Tim Tyler; the Revd Canon Tim Marwood; London Square Development Director Mark Smith.
A re-hallowing service has taken place following the restoration of The Memorial Chapel at The Star and Garter Building on Richmond Hill, which will allow worship to continue to commemorate the lives and the care of veterans of conflicts for years to come.
The Memorial Chapel of St Mary was founded at the Home of The Royal Star & Garter Homes charity on Richmond Hill in 1926, two years after the building was opened by King George V and Queen Mary, to care for soldiers and sailors injured in the First World War. It was established as the gift of Viscount and Viscountess Cowdray, in memory of their son, the Hon Francis Geoffrey Pearson, who was killed in France just five weeks after the start of the Great War.
Over the years, services took place in the chapel for residents who lived at the home but also to mark major conflicts, attended by members of the Royal family, including HM Queen Elizabeth, the Patron of The Royal Star & Garter Homes, and Princess Alexandra, its President.
The Memorial Chapel was closed while restoration took place as part of a grand refurbishment of the Grade II listed building following its sale by the Charity to the award-winning developer London Square, as it was no longer appropriate for the specialised nursing needs of its residents. Three new purpose-built care homes were established by the Charity in Surbiton, High Wycombe and Solihull.
The conversion and restoration of The Star and Garter has been a project of national significance. An elite professional team was appointed to convert the building into private residences, while respecting its architectural lineage and historical importance, preserving many significant features, including a stained glass window and ceiling mouldings, the bronze opening ceremony plaque and engraved stone commemoration of The Queen’s visit.
The Memorial Chapel is the final part of the restoration. It has been rewired and its polished marble, moulded plasterwork and ornate carved furniture refurbished.
The service was conducted by The Revd Canon Tim Marwood, Vicar of St Peter’s, Petersham, and attended by The Royal Star & Garter Homes Chairman, Major General Tim Tyler, The Royal Star & Garter Homes Chief Executive Andy Cole, The Mayor of Richmond, Cllr Nancy Baldwin, plus the charity’s supporters and officers and councillors from Richmond Council. The Memorial Chapel will be used by the Charity for public services on special occasions such as Armed Forces Day.
For many decades, the Memorial Chapel of St Mary brought strength, hope and comfort to our residents, their relatives and staff. It gives me joy to know that this wonderful place will once again be open for worship, and commemoration of the life and continuing work of The Royal Star & Garter Homes caring for the Veterans for many years to come.
A glorious legacy has been created for this building and we are proud that its history will continue to be linked to The Royal Star & Garter Homes through the Memorial Chapel. The building also has a special place in the hearts and minds of the Richmond community and that is inextricably linked with the care and service dedicated to veterans over past generations. It is important that this connection is maintained.