I didn’t join my colleagues who went to Breary Banks, and instead spent my day looking for information about the Methodist chapel which is a part of one of our stops.
The process of finding information about the chapel was quite complicated, but provided me a lot of fun and gave the opportunity to feel (almost) like a Sherlock Holmes. The first step of my investigation was reading the report from the site which described the most basic facts about the chapel such as location, date when it was built, and also who founded the building. Because of the connections between Leeds Pals and Breary Banks I decided to read a book about Leeds Pals which was written by Laurie Milner. It was obvious for me that at some point I will find something about a chapel. Luckily, my assumptions were correct and I found a private letter which belonged to one of the soldiers, which described that usually on Christmas mornings were held church parades. This letter helped me to realize that the presence of chapel on the camp site had a significant meaning for the officers, especially for those who stayed at camp during Christmas period.
In the further steps I also checked a diary of Johannes Rienau who was one of the German officers imprisoned at the camp. This source provided me a description of the church ceremony which happened on Christmas Eve in 1917 and was prepared for everyone, no matter if they was Methodist or Christian.
During my consideration about the sources which might be helpful for me I realised that digital archives of the newspapers might also say something interesting about the chapel. Unfortunately, this time I didn’t find anything, however I didn’t give up and after a few hours I found the information that during the 1940’s Sunday School was held at the chapel for people from the area of Colsterdale. This fact and also the presence of children at the camp may suggest that Sunday School also might have taken a place at the chapel during the existence of the Breary Banks.
I would also like to say that in some ways my action was quite similar to the work of my colleagues who dug at the site. However, instead of the shovel in my hand I had a pen and instead of digging in the field I ‘dug’ the depths of the internet and books.
Written by Eliza.