The Doox Book: The story of a mother's love

Last Friday I took part in making an inventory of all the church plate and valuables for the annual report. St George’s has a remarkable collection of silver memorial vessels, medals, books and coins. And there is one very unique item which was the work of a mother. Her young son Charles was killed in the Great War aged only 19. And she commissioned a special illuminated manuscript as a record of his Requiem memorial service. This memorial service in his memory was celebrated at St Mary’s church in Bexwell, Norfolk where his father was the rector.

The front page reads: “To the beloved memory of Charles Dean Prangley, 2nd Lieutenant 1st Lincolnshire Regiment. Elder son of the Revd Charles Wilton Prangley, Rector of Bexwell in Norfolk. Who in the hour of England’s need fell for his country leading his men in the advance on Gueudecourt on 25th Sept 1916 and is buried on the field of battle aged 19 years.”

Here is a photograph of Charles wearing his lieutenant’s uniform and a photograph of his gravestone in the war cemetery. Since all the fallen of the Great War were buried where they fell on the fields of Belgium he could not be buried in the village churchyard or receive a requiem funeral mass from his father the rector. So his parents celebrated a requiem memorial service instead and afterwards presented this wonderful book to St George’s Memorial Church in Ypres where he fell in battle.

The illustrations in the book record all the scenes from his short life: the font in which he was baptised, the church in which he was confirmed, Jesus college in Cambridge, the village memorial cross in Bexwell and his home name Doox: “Doox, dear Doox, he gave his all – I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”

This illustrated book has a gold cross on the front of it. This was made from his mother’s wedding ring. The inscription on the cross reads: “Dead, to him dead, yet living where he lives, the golden link that once bound two in one. Dear token of the husband’s love she gives the mother to the son.” What stronger proof of affection could any mother give than that ? One heartbroken mother of the Great War speaks for all sorrowing mothers. And we pray that she may now be reunited with her lost son – and living where he lives – in the kingdom of heaven

The illustrated book and the gold cross represent a great love – the love of a mother for her eldest son Doox. Out of her tremendous grief and loss she created a testimony of remarkable beauty. This is the triumph of hope over adversity. It is the message of the gospel.

A Jewish proverb says that: “God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers.”

Today on Mothering Sunday we give thanks for the mothers in our lives and we see that Motherhood is the triumph of hope over adversity. It is the message of the gospel.


An excerpt from the sermon for Mothering Sunday at St George’s Memorial church in Ypres.