On Monday, hundreds of people gathered for a celebration at the Dangarsleigh Monument to mark the centenary of the unique war memorial, which was to be known as 'Nirvana'.
This memorial to soldiers who gave up their lives in the First World War was unveiled at a gathering of 1000 people on Empire Day, May 24th 1921.
It was designed and funded by Mr Alfred Haroldston Perrott of 'Chevy Chase' on whose property it was built.
The builder, Mr Mark Roberts, was assisted by Mr Perrott during the eight months of construction, local residents offering their services, particularly in cartage of materials to the site.
The structure was never allowed to become dry during construction and was watered from the top, sometimes 2-3 times daily with water bucketed from nearby Powers creek.
Mr Harry Court, blacksmith of Armidale donated the turnstile for which he fashioned a symbolic rifle, cannon, bosun's whistle and bugle as handles.
We gathered this week to pay tribute to Alfred Haroldston Perrott, his wife Mable, his family and the men on the monument.
The monument that Alfred Perrott built, which after 100 years still stands tall and proud, tells such an important story.
In memoirs written in 1930, Alfred Perrott related that around 1915, he made a solemn promise to two young men working on his property 'Chevy Chase' that, should he be spared by the end of the War, he would build a monument to all those brave men who 'went west' serving the Empire. Two of his sons went to war, but only one returned.
And Alfred, true to his word built a monument.
In some deeply personal memoirs written in 1934, a few weeks before he died at the age of 71, Alfred wrote -
"To whom it may be of interest to read the thoughts and ideas of Alfred Haroldston Perrott, I was born at Haroldston, Kelly's Plains near Armidale and have ten brothers and sisters, five older and five younger. I am the odd one of the eleven."
He continues: "I never had much education in the way of books. I class myself as a bushwhacker. Any spare time I had was spent trying to solve the 'why and wherefore' of how things came about, but by the time another hundred years are passed, then most people will be of the same ideas as I am. Could I but lend my foresight to others so that they could see and think as I think, what a help it would be to many."
Thus we meet Alfred, considering himself different, a proud and positive man, a man of vision, and a man true to his word.
Around 1911 when Alfred and Mable and their family of three sons and three daughters moved into their new home here at Chevy Chase, their eldest son also Alfred Haroldston Perrott, but known as Harold, left to work in Queensland.
Harold wrote separately to his mother and father, and in a letter to his father in November 1911 said
'I have never written to you all this this long while and tonight I thought I would like to talk to you...often I think of you and our separation proves to me that after all you are the best friend I have and I hope later on to return or perhaps in some other way be a help and a worthy son to you'.
Harold did not return to 'Chevy Chase' until April 1916 on final leave prior to sailing to serve at the Western Front. From the troopship Argyllshire, in a letter to his sister he wrote 'seeing father was simply grand'.
But from the camp at Lark Hill in England writing to his father in January 1917, said
'So much I have thought of you lately and I know only too well times are hard with you and how much I would give to be able to help you, but that time is far ahead I fear, only just now I can serve you and all mine and my country by loyally sticking to my work as a soldier.
Meantime, I think you might lighten cares and troubles if only you will try and sell one or two of your properties. Make it your aim to have one home. One where Mother and you and the girls may be happy together, where work and all time is not compulsorily linked together so as to make money - and live.
You have the home and comfort in 'Chevy Chase', sell the rest and then in the days ahead a little enjoyment will be yours after all these years and in 'Chevy Chase' you will find ample scope for ideals to be carried out and happiness found as the fruit of good labour.
You see, Father, your boys are independent now and nobly and well will make their own way and therefore do not lay up treasure on this earth for them, besides, riches only bring more worry and trouble.
Harold was killed by an exploding shell at Passchendaele on 28th October 1917.
Alfred loved trees and in 1918, following Harold's death he planted a memorial park of 1600 trees on 'Chevy Chase' and was largely responsible for other memorial plantings in and around Armidale.
Then on the 6th of October 1920 he and Mark Roberts who built 'Chevy Chase', commenced work on the promised monument which was to be completed for an unveiling ceremony on Empire Day, May 24th 1921.
Alfred designed the highly symbolic memorial and built it at his own expense, never letting it become dry during the eight months of construction, climbing the scaffolding and bucketing water over the ever- growing structure from above two to three times daily.
The sixteen men remembered on the monument include Harold Perrott, Alfred Johnston from Victoria who was killed beside him, and young men from the town and district.
Their families accepted the invitation to have names of their fallen sons and relatives included on this uniquely beautiful War Memorial in its peaceful natural surroundings.
There were descendants at Monday's centenary celebrations of Harold Perrott, Francis Brennan, Norman Holloway and Harry Wharton. The unveiling was performed by Colonel J.L.G. Johnstone and some of his descendants were also present.
At the unveiling ceremony on Empire Day one hundred years ago, Bishop Wentworth Shields chose the most beautifully apt lines to pay tribute to Alfred. The 1000 attendees, all of whom had endured suffering, loss and grief during those five ghastly years and who appreciated this wonderful gesture of remembrance heard this quote:
"To the man who plans things, builds things, makes things.
Who talks not of wonders of old, nor gloats upon ancestral gold.
But takes off his coat and does things."
In his 1930 memoirs Alfred explains that the park on which the monument stands is to be known as Nirvana which is worked into the structure of the gateway to the monument.
Nirvana, meaning 'Enter your everlasting peace' is an Indian word taken from Sir Edwin Arnold's 1879 poem 'Light of Asia' which tells of the life and teachings of Buddha.
Among Harold's personal belongings which were returned from France is a 1911 edition of 'Light of Asia'.
Alfred's parents and most of his siblings are buried in the churchyard of St John's Anglican Church at Kelly's Plains built near 'Haroldston'.
But Alfred's wishes were that he should be buried at the foot of his monument after a short service at this site.
Both Alfred and Mable Perrott are buried in Nirvana, facing west where the rays of the setting sun fall over their graves - while their eldest son and the men on the monument lie in military cemeteries in France, Egypt, England, Belgium and on the bed of the sea.
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