‘Fantastic and Moving’ Armistice Tea

Guests who attended The Warwick Armistice Tea on the final day of the Warwick Words History Festival in the Court House ballroom said afterwards how moving it had been to hear about the impact on the county town of the First World War. 

Another wrote immediately to Unlocking Warwick, the Court House volunteer group who had devised and performed the presentation, My friend and I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon tea in the a Ballroom today. The volunteers did an amazing job at a variety of levels. The songs made me cry as I thought how much my now deceased parents would have loved the event. Thank you all”.

Unlocking Warwick Chair Karen Parker said, “It was clearly a rather emotional occasion, with quite a few people in the audience dabbing their eyes. But they all said it was very informative and enjoyable as well as moving.

Marking the centenary of the Armistice coming up next month, our presentation used material unearthed by the volunteers who have been searching the records to find the human stories behind the 358 WWI names on the Warwick War Memorial, and what happened in the town between 1914 and 1918 as reported in the Warwickshire Advertiser (now The Courier)”.

Unlocking Warwick’s Secretary Rick Thompson said,

It was appropriate to hold the Armistice Tea in the Court House. The building and the adjoining Pageant House had become the headquarters of the Army Pay Corps, the administration for the troops, with 300 hastily-recruited staff organising the billeting and equipping of more than 300,000 troops from across Warwickshire”.

The guests heard about the requisitioning of large houses to turn into hospitals as mounting numbers of casualties came home from the Western Front, and about the food shortages and the harsh conditions endured by the Warwickshire Land Army Girls who replaced the farm workers who had gone to war.

There were some poems and contemporary songs performed by mezzo-soprano Imogen Parker accompanied by the Director of Music from St. Mary’s, Oliver Hancock, with the audience joining in enthusiastically.

The afternoon tea itself was true to what would have been available in 1918 – hot bacon batches, home-made cakes, jam tarts and jellies, though the volunteers had used real flour, not the mashed turnip that had to be used instead during the war. Here is a picture gallery. Click on the pictures to see them full size. 

And some pictures behind the scenes as the presenters got ready:

The database of The Fallen with information about the Warwick men who died in the Great War can be found on Unlocking Warwick’s special website www.warwickwarmemorial.org.uk