Herodsfoot is a small pretty Cornwall village, set at the meeting of four valleys whose streams join the West Looe river. The name comes from the old Cornish ‘Hir-Garth’ meaning long hill. John Betjeman described Herodsfoot as ‘An inland Polperro in a deeply wooded valley. Slate cottages with uneven roofs’. As a doubly thankful village, the War Memorial commemorates ‘those who served’.
Just 13 villages endured the two world wars without a single life lost in combat. They don't have traditional war memorials but most have erected a plaque, stained glass or roll of honour to remember those from the village who fought, and as an expression of gratitude for their incredible luck in surviving both wars with no casualties.
Langton Herring is the only Thankful Village in Dorset and sits up high on a perch overlooking Chesil Beach and the English Channel. There is a horse chestnut tree planted in the centre of the churchyard in memory of Sir Winston Churchill, with a small plaque bearing the words, ‘We shall never surrender’. The porch of the church also includes a splendid wooden roll of honour board from World War I naming the 31 men ‘of the village’ who went away to fight.
A simple wooden board records the 24 men and one woman (Driver Agnes Witts) from the village who fought in the Great War and the 36 who fought in the Second World War, all returned. On return from hostilities the Women of the village presented the servicemen of Upper Slaughter with Certificates of recognition as a 'small token of their appreciation and thanks for your help towards the attainment of victory'.
The church maintains a feeling of antiquity, with a churchyard that is one of those places that is truly quiet. In the churchyard is a war memorial shaped like a lantern. The inscription reads: A thank offering to Almighty God. At evening time it shall be light for the safe return of all the men from this parish who fought in the Great War 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.
Arkholme saw 59 men serve and all of them return from the Great War. It unveiled its first memorial dedicated ‘for all who have lived and died in the service of others in war and peace’ in 2014.
St Mark is one of the smallest churches you will ever go to. On the north wall there is a memorial to the men of the village who served in both World Wars. There is also a Peace Stone commemorating the end of the Second World War, in the church garden.
All Saints is a blessed church. The lower section of the east window contains an inscription which shows angels protecting the church with a banner, which reads 'This window is dedicated to the Glory of God and in thankfulness for the safe return of those from this parish who served in the wars 1914-1918 and 1939 to 1945'.
High Toynton church is certainly a little different to look at. There are a variety of stones used in the build though primarily greenstone. There is also a piece of engraved stone that had been reused near the footings of the tower. Included in the church is a bank of Living Memories, which includes a resident’s diary of 1939 to 1941.
Herbrandston is the only doubly thankful village in Wales. There is no war memorial in Herbrandston and nothing that formally marks the village’s good fortune in being spared wartime fatalities. The beautiful reredos in the church was placed there as a mark of thanksgiving and a local man gave thanks by pointing the whole of the chancel free of charge.
A folk tale tells of two sisters who are both in love with the vicar and have churches built for him. The village remembers its good fortune in the smaller of the two churches, St Mary Magdalene. Inside the church is a brass plaque listing the names of the 19 villagers who went to the Great War and returned to their loved ones.
The village sent thirteen young men from different families to the Great War of 1914-1918 and all of them returned to give thanks in the uniquely designed All Saints. One suffered wounds at the Battle of Ypres, one gassed and a third awarded the Croix de Guerre for distinguished gallantry. This little Somerset village was doubly blessed in that fifteen young men were sent to fight twenty years later and, once again, they all returned. There are plaques in the church to record the gratitude of the village for their good fortune.
St Michael is the only Doubly Thankful village in Suffolk, where all the serving men came back from both the First and Second World Wars. Their names are recorded in a frame on the north wall of the nave but it is one of the few areas you can't find a war memorial to the parish's fallen. Nearby wartime bombing on the Green in 1940 blew out the east window and stripped tiles from the roof. The replacement of clear glass has made the interior delightfully light and airy.
The term Thankful Villages was first used by the British writer and journalist Arthur Mee in his guide to the counties of England in the 1930s. In Yorkshire he writes about Catwick ‘Thirty men went from Catwick to the Great War and thirty came back, though one left an arm behind’.