To display in FULL SCREEN hover the cursor over the image above and click the top left zoom button
St Jude's has a memorial, on the north wall near the pulpit, commemorating Lieutenant John Raphael of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps who died of wounds received on June 7th at the Battle of Messines Ridge aged 35. Raphael had been contemporary of the Reverend Bourchier at Merchant Taylors’ School. He was a keen sportsman, winning 14 blues at Oxford: four for Rugby, three for cricket, three for swimming, and four for water polo; he won nine Rugby International Caps for England, and captained Surrey at both rugby and cricket. His monument is by the sculptor Charles Sykes who designed the Spirit of Ecstasy statuette for Rolls Royce motorcars.
Raphael's mother's ashes were secretly buried along side his grave at the Lijssenthoek military cemetery in Flanders when she died. This was not permitted at the time and the following is the remarkable story of how it happened:
On a chilly autumn afternoon in 1929 a chauffeur-driven car pulled into the Lijssenthoek military cemetery in Flanders. Head groundsman Walter Sutherland initially paid little attention as a finely dressed woman stepped out. More than a decade after the Great War such pilgrimages by grief-stricken widows and mothers were common.
Sutherland glanced up ready to direct the visitor to one of the 11,000 identical stone graves. Once there she would, like most who had preceded her, weep and lay flowers. However there was something about the woman's purposeful stride and dry-eyed demeanour that alerted the worker that this was no ordinary mourner.
Introducing herself as Harriette Raphael the woman outlined her extraordinary proposal. She explained that she was the mother of Lieutenant John Raphael who had been killed at the Battle of Messines Ridge in Belgium in June 1917 and buried at Lijssenthoek.
Now in poor health her one remaining wish was to be laid to rest alongside her beloved only son. Mrs Raphael knew very well that military rules of the period strictly forbade such requests, explaining her decision to go directly to the gardener rather than making an official approach to the Imperial War Graves Commission.
The widow of multi-millionaire financier Albert Raphael, who was part of a banking dynasty that in the 1920s rivalled the Rothschild family, she was no doubt used to getting her way. A kindly man, Sutherland was also sympathetic to the plight of a generation of mothers who had suffered the tragedy of outliving their sons. Originally from Inverness, he too had fought in the war before marrying a Flanders girl and settling in Belgium.
Mystery surrounds the exact nature of the pact she made with Walter but 13 months later a package arrived at the cemetery. It contained her ashes and the gardener knew precisely what he must do.
Without telling a soul he sought out the fallen soldier's tombstone and beside it dug a small hole. Within a few minutes the ashes were buried and the turf replaced.
Sutherland must have known he was taking a risk which could have cost him his job but within a few weeks the signs of the burial were gone. The secret has remained in the workman's family for more than 80 years but now Sutherland's son George has decided to make public the story of a grieving mother's devotion.
George, 92, who was passed the secret by his father, says: "My father was moved by her determination. He showed me where he had cut out an area of grass and slipped the urn underneath. What he did was in defiance of the rules so he knew that he could not mark her name on the grave but he said a short prayer and always said he had 'done right'."
Although Walter and his family had no connection to the Raphaels they became fascinated by the dead soldier. They set about researching his background and discovered that John Raphael, who was known as Jack, was a remarkable man cut down in his prime. It was understandable that his loss cast a shadow over the remainder of his mother's life.
Jack was born in Brussels in 1882 although his parents came from Hendon and moved back to London to start his education. He attended Merchant Taylors' School and went on to St John's College Oxford where he excelled at rugby, cricket and water polo.
The brilliant all-round sportsman led the British Lions' tour to Argentina in 1910 – he won nine caps playing for England, getting his picture on a cigarette playing card and played cricket for Surrey.
Jack chose a career in law, becoming a member of Lincoln's Inn and was called to the Bar in 1908. He also took a great interest in politics and stood, albeit unsuccessfully, as the Liberal candidate for Croydon.
At the outbreak of war his dream to enter Parliament and follow in the footsteps of his cousin Sir Herbert Raphael, MP for West Derby, was placed on hold.
From August 1914 he served as an officer with the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment and later joined the 18th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps.
His exploits on the battlefield mirrored those on the sports arena but his luck ran out when he was hit by a German shell at St Eloi, 10 miles south of Ypres, early in the summer of 1917.
Harriette received a telegram on June 7 relaying the dreaded news that Jack had been injured. She was already grieving for her husband Albert who had died aged 73 while Jack was away at war.
All she could do was hope for Jack's recovery but within days a second telegram confirmed her son's death on June 11 aged 35. To the end Jack showed great courage and while gravely injured learned the allies' attack had brought about the capture of Messines Ridge.
To mark his extraordinary valour, a fellow officer who was with him when he was wounded wrote: "I have seen gallant men in many parts of the world but never have I been so impressed by such a magnificent display of sheer pluck and unselfishness as was shown by Lieutenant JE Raphael."
Obituaries highlighted his sporting prowess: "A beautiful kick, a brilliant fielder and possessed of a good turn of speed, he was a fine natural player. "On the cricket field and still more in the world of rugby football, a distinct personality. Everything he did created more than ordinary interest, his popularity as a man, apart from his ability, counting for much."
No amount of condolences could ease Harriette's pain. She was bereft and threw herself into immortalising her beloved son's memory. Harriette organised a service at St Jude-on-the-Hill Church in Hampstead Garden Suburb near the family home in north London and commissioned sculptor Charles Sykes, designer of the Rolls-Royce mascot the Spirit of Ecstasy, to create a memorial to her son.
The marble plaque with a bust of Jack under the evocative motto "If character be destiny then his is assured" was unveiled on the north wall of St Jude-on-the-Hill by John Nairn, headmaster of Merchant Taylors'.
Jack's book Modern Rugby Football was all but completed before he went to war so Harriette oversaw the printing of the 296-page coaching manual. She also founded a scholarship in his name at Oxford University.
His memorial's motto was included in the book's foreword and the same words were inscribed on his headstone at Lijssenthoek, the second-largest allied cemetery in Belgium.
Later in life Harriette, who died aged 73, dabbled with Buddhism as she struggled to comprehend her son's death. But always in the background was her burning desire to be buried next to Jack.
George Sutherland, who also tended the grounds at Lijssenthoek, says: "For years whenever I was planting or cutting grass near the grave I would always think about Mrs Raphael who, like all those other mothers, never recovered from losing a son in the Great War.
"I swear that my father's actions allowed Harriette and her son to rest together in peace."
The rules banning family burials in military cemeteries were finally relaxed in the 1960s.