The village of Mells is located some 3½ miles to the north west of Frome in Somerset. For a small village, the church is very imposing with a splendid tower having diagonally-set corner pinnacles. Built in the 15th century on the site of a former church going back to die 13th century, St. Andrew's Church is in the Diocese of Bath and Wells. Click here for a map showing the location of Mells.
Inside the church (much of the interior of which had been restored by the Horner family in the 1880s) are several plaques com-memorating members of the Horner family in life and death. In the family chapel is an equestrian statue to the memory of Edward Horner - their eldest son and heir to the Mells estate who was born in May 1883 and who died of wounds in France in November 1917 whilst serving as a lieutenant with the 18th (Queen Mary's Own) Hussars.
The striking bronze equestrian statue is the work of Sir Alfred Mannings (1878-1959) and represents the first venture into sculpture of this distinguished painter of horses. The plinth of the statue (a miniature version of the Cenotaph) was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944).
At one end of the plinth is Edward Horner's original wooden grave-marker which had been brought back from France after the war. There is also a wooden memorial plaque to Edward Horner which rests above a large stone vault. Part of the inscription records that he fell in Picardy whilst defending die village of Noyelles against the German Army in the Battle of Cambrai. He is buried in Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Ceme-tery, Manancourt (Somme).
On the south wall of the church is a memorial to Raymond Asquith - son of the Rt Hon Herbert Asquith (Prime Minister from 1908 to 1916). Lt Raymond Asquith, serving with 3rd Bn Grenadier Guards, was in action on the Somme and died of his wounds (he had been shot in the chest) on 15th September 1916 aged 37: he is buried in Guillemont Road Cemetery, Guillemont.
His original wooden grave-marker (with a circle around the centrepoint) hangs in the Horner Chapel and his sword was once kept on the wall below his memorial plaque but was removed by the family some years ago for safe keeping. His memorial plaque is in Latin and is inscribed by Eric Gill (1882-1940). Raymond Asquith was a Wykehamist and scholar of Balliol College Oxford. He was also a fellow of All Souls and a barrister.
In the churchyard are the graves of:
• Sir John Horner, 28th December 1842 -31st March 1927
• Lady Frances Horner, 28th March 1854 -1st March 1940
• Mark George Horner (son), 13th July 1891 - 3rd March 1908
• Katharine Frances Asquith (nee Homer), 9th September 1885 - 9th July 1976
Adjoining these graves in the family plot are the graves of:
Maurice Bonham-Carter KCB, KCVO, llrh October 1880 - 7th June 1960 and his wife, Helen Violet, Baroness Asquith of Yambury DBE (Raymond Asquith's sister), 15th April 1887 - 19th February 1969.
The stones of Sir John and Lady Horner were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and the stone of Mark Horner was the work of Eric Gill.
Siegfried Loraine Sassoon (1886-1967) who died at Heytesbury in Wiltshire and who wished to be buried near his friend Monsigneur Ronald Knox, a Roman Catholic priest and scholar who lived for some years at The Manor House.
These graves are located on the east side of the churchyard facing the boundary wall. An avenue of clipped yews designed by Lutyens, and which is behind the church, leads to the fields beyond.
In the village itself is the war memorial which features a figure of St George copied from a statue in the chapel of Henry VTI in Westminster Abbey, The memorial also features a long curved seat of Portland stone with an integral stone-wall behind it inscribed with the names of local men - including Raymond Asquith - who fell in the Great War.
The Mells estate came into the ownership of the Horner family in the 16th century when it was purchased from King Henry VIII who had acquired it during the dissolution of the monasteries when he had the Abbot of Glastonbury hanged. It passed by marriage to the family of Herbert Asquith.
The inscription at the bottom of Raymond Asquith's headstone reads:
SMALL TIME, BUT IN THAT SMALL MOST GREATLY LIVED THIS STAR OF ENGLAND
Edward Horner was a descendant of Jack Homer, whose exploits might have been the source of the nursery rhyme in which the estate of Mells was the 'plum reward' picked out by Little Jack Homer with his thumb from a Christmas pie sent to Henry VIII at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. It is claimed that the pie contained the title deeds to twelve manors: the title deeds had been hidden in the pie but, when the pie was delivered, the title deed to Mells had been extracted. The official entrusted with delivering the pie was Jack Horner.
Raymond Asquith's brother, Brig-Gen Arthur Asquith, was Controller, Trench Warfare Department in 1918.