Richmond WW1 Diary 3 June 1916

Image of poppy

Religion during the war

Faith and religion grew in significance for many, as people dealt with the deaths of loved ones on an unprecedented scale.

In the Anglican Church, England’s official religion and the one most English people belonged to, there was a surge in church attendance at the start of the war, and again in 1918. The rise in regular church attendance also happened in the various Scottish and Welsh Christian churches.

Between 1914 and 1918, the number of Roman Catholics in Britain rose by 3%, which included 250,000 Belgian refugees (most Belgians were Catholic). On June 3, the Richmond & Twickenham Times reported on the confirmation of 200 Belgian children at St Catherine’s in Twickenham, where a large Belgian community had been established. The ceremony was carried out by the Bishop of Malines, who was himself a refugee.

During the war, there was also a temporary increase in the numbers of practicing Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. Many were servicemen, who were sent to recover from their wounds in hospitals around the country. Some never made it home and notable memorials are the Chattri near Brighton and Muslim Burial Ground in Woking, 20 miles from Richmond.

The Jewish population in Britain had grown significantly in the years before the war, as thousands fled persecution in Eastern Europe. Some 50,000 British Jews fought during the war, and around 10,000 were killed in action. Also on June 3, the Times reported on the first synagogue built in Surrey, which was to be opened in Richmond, at Parkshot. It was formally opened by Leopold de Rothschild on June 28 1916.

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