Noel Herbert Tovell
Location: Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 3 RN
Details on cross:
At top of cross – metal plate stamped
At intersection of cross – 3 metal plates stamped:
PTE N H TOVELL
2ND ROYAL FUS
14TH OCT 1918
Text type (e.g. hand-written, GRU tags, carved): Stamped on metal plates
Cross dimensions (millimetres please)
Unable to measure the cross as it is a museum exhibit, and is mounted high up a wall within an alcove in the museum.
Mounting to wall: Screwed to wall
Evidence of use in field (earth marking, cracking, staining, shrinkage): Foot of cross shows signs of shrinkage
Surface insertion depth (into ground if apparent):
Finish (varnish, paint, oiled, unfinished etc): Varnished
Condition (cracked, paint peeling, woodwork, damage etc): very good condition
Biographical notes and observations:
Private Noel Herbert Tovell was the son of Herbert and Alice Tovell of East Dereham, Norfolk. He was 19 years old when killed, and is buried at Duhallow ADS Cemetery, Ypres. Unusual that the cross should be in the Suffolk Regt museum, given the he was neither from Suffolk, nor in the Suffolk Regt.
Additional information from Taff Gillingham at the museum.
The Cross was donated many years ago by a relative of Noel Tovell who lives near the Museum in Bury St Edmunds. The donor still visits the Suffolk Regiment Museum to visit the Cross.
He remembers playing with it when he was a child, often using the Cross and a bed sheet to make a tent for himself and his friends in the family living room.
The Cross underwent some restoration in the early 2000s when it was cleaned and waxed by a volunteer (without official permission) which has improved its condition.
A subsequent request for the Cross to be re-homed elsewhere was firmly turned down by the Trustees.
When I was asked to revamp the Suffolk Regiment Museum in 2004 I decided to create a Great War memorial area in one of the window apertures using Noel Tovell’s Cross as a centrepiece.
It is not screwed to the wall. It originally had an old brass cup hook screwed in the top in order to hang it.
I moved the brass hook into the back of the Cross and the hook is looped through a ring on the wall for ease of removal.
Despite not being a Suffolk Regiment soldier, Noel Tovell’s Memorial Cross provides an important focus point in the museum and remains a place of pilgrimage for his family.
Survey and photographs courtesy of Andrew White, with thanks to Taff Gillingham.
Date of survey: 1 March 2017