A NEW painted coat of arms as been dedicated in Northumberland.
The new hatchment has been mounted in St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh and was officially unveiled by the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Rev Martin Wharton on Sunday.
It commemorates the late Captain Joe Baker-Cresswell, who died in 1997, and joins four other hatchments in St Aidan’s, one of which is believed to be the oldest in Northumberland.
The memorial features the Cresswell family arms and motto, with the addition of Captain Baker-Cresswell’s Distinguished Service Order medal, painted on a diamond-shaped board with a black background.
The tradition of hanging hatchments in parish churches to commemorate distinguished figures after their death began in the early 17th century, and while many hatchments still hang in English churches the installation of a new one is now a very rare event.
Captain Addison Joe Baker-Cresswell was a member of a Northumberland landowning family and joined the Royal Navy in 1919.
In 1940 he was given command of the destroyer HMS Arrow, and some months later HMS Bulldog. On the May 9, 1941 a party from HMS Bulldog boarded and captured the German U-Boat U-110, seizing among other items an intact Enigma code machine and code book.
Baker-Cresswell was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and was told by King George VI that the capture of the Enigma machine had been ‘the most important single event in the whole war at sea’.
Promoted to Captain, he ended the Second World War in command of the Royal Navy’s East Indies Escort Force.
Retiring from the Royal Navy in 1951, Joe Baker-Cresswell lived at Budle Hall and managed his estate near Bamburgh. He became a Justice of the Peace, was High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1962, and was a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron.
The dedication of the hatchment was attended by Captain Baker-Cresswell’s daughter, Pam Straker, and his son Charles Baker-Cresswell.
The new hatchment is mounted on the north wall of the nave in St Aidan’s Church.