World War 1 Memorial Bronze Doors, St George's Anglican Church


The Bronze Doors of St George's Anglican Church in the Dorsoduro district of Venice are designated as an official memorial to the British servicemen who died on the Italian front and at sea in the First World War.  Venice in Peril Fund pledged £3000 in 2014, the centenary of the start of WW1, towards the target of €17,000. The conservation treatment was carried out by bronze conservator Corina Mattiello, who has worked extensively in St Marks Basilica.  The doors were re-dedicated on Remembrance Day 2015 in a ceremony attended by the British Ambassador, Christopher Prentice and the Mayor of Calvene. 

The doors were cast from two cannons provided by the War Council in London, one dating from the Crimean War and a larger gun dated 1795.  These were transported from England to Venice freight-free by a British ship of the Wilson Line where, after their identifying marks were removed, they were melted down and the doors cast in the Arsenale, by courtesy of the Italian ministry of Marine.
The architect who advised the Memorial Committee on the design at the time was Commendatore Luigi Marangoni whose proposal, based on elements of Byzatine inspiration, was approved as designed by the sculptor N. Martinuzzi and carried out by L. Gaggio. The project was completed in 1926, funded by numerous and distinguished benefactors who responded to the appeal chaired by Sir Ronald Graham, then Ambassador in Rome who was supported by a distinguished Honorary Council drawn from the Army and Navy and ecclesiastical and diplomatic representatives as well as British residents in Venice.
The two doors bear reliefs with the words, ‘Ad Rerum Memoriam’ MCMXIV and ‘Ad Nominum Honorum’ MCMXVIII respectively with latin inscriptions commemorating Ad Honorem soldiers, sailors and airmen. On either side of the doors two bronze panels are inscribed with the names of the cemeteries on the Asiago plateau where British soldiers died mostly in the closing months of war in the summer and autumn of 1918. To the left are Boscon, Barenthal, Magnaboschi, Cavalletto, Granezza and to the right are Graduscam, Giavera, Tezze, Montecchio, Precalcino, Dueville.
The doors are surmounted by a lunette with a figure bearing staff and orb: on the wall above the door a relief of St George and the Dragon is dated 1926 - the date of the completion of the monumental doorway.
A Liber Honoris – Roll of Honour – recording the names of the Fallen is kept inside the church.
In 2008 (the 400th anniversary of St George’s church)the Venice in Peril funded the restoration of seven stained glass windows commemorating distinguished British residents of Venice - among others Ruskin and Browning. This followed a contribution from the Fund in 1988 when the interior of the church was redecorated.

 

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