Memorials are a feature of churches and chapels throughout this land. Sometimes they are massive and magnificent and sometimes purely plain and simple. The significance of the figure commemorated by the memorial to his or her own age and to the generations which came after, often owing an unknown debt of gratitude, is difficult to gauge from the memorial itself. A little research in church or chapel records will help to bring alive the cold inscription in stone which may be seen often and then forgotten.
In the Great Meeting there are several memorials, perhaps the most remarkable being the Atkins Embroidery, in memory of Hugh Atkins, dating from the year 1902 and recently cleaned and restored. Less significant as a memorial is the simple stone inscription on the right of the chapel as one enters, to George Dare. a man whose contribution to the life of Hinckley in the last century was of great significance and continues to have a bearing on the life of the town today. Indeed, the Dare family were of significance not only in Hinckley but in the county as a whole.
The stone tablet in its simplicity records;
TO THE MEMORY OF
WHO DIED AUGUST 1883
AGED 72 YEARS
FOR MANY YEARS A TRUSTEE
AND DEVOTED MEMBER
OF THIS CHAPEL
“God is Love”
George Dare's memorial was placed in the Great Meeting in 1922 by his daughter, Mrs. Gee, late of Atherstone.
(1) The Dare family came to Hinckley from Titchfield in Hampshire in the period after the Napoleonic Wars. In the chapel records the first mention of the family occurs in 1831. Baptismal Register.
Harriet Collington, daughter of Joseph and Mary Dare. Born Dec 16 1831. Baptised July 8, 1832, W. Robinson.
Joseph Dare, brother of George, was later to become a leading figure in the Leicester Domestic Mission and has been the subject of an article by Jack Simmons in which he is described as, ‘A Victorian Social Worker’ in an age when the state had not recognised that particular profession
(2) Joseph, before moving to Leicester in 'the Hungry Forties', was a local schoolmaster in Hinckley and a poet whose works were published under the title, 'The Garland of Gratitude' (Sonnets - Miscellaneous Pieces and Songs).
George’s remarkable brother came from a family whose mother was a Jewess. Joseph had been born in l800f one of two pairs of twins of which his mother was delivered in that year! In 1841 many of the Dare family, including George's mother, were living in New York whilst George continued his life in Hinckley.
It is George who is the subject of this short article and after this diversion into his family background, we shall return to the chapel records and the subject of George's family. Like so many Victorian families the record of infant mortality of the Dare family is in itself a memorial to the misery of those days. George and his wife Caroline have three children mentioned in the chapel registers. Hannah, born in 1836; John, an infant son buried, presumably shortly after he had entered this world in 1838; and Clara, born in 1856. In the chapel records the deaths of Joseph1 s daughters, Elizabeth and Harriet, are both recorded in 1836, aged 2| and 4 respectively. It was the improvement of the social conditions of Hinckley and Leicester which the two Dare brothers, worked so hard to attain, in the years that followed which would help to reduce the tragedy of infant death in Victorian England.
(3) George became a successful businessman in Castle Street and by the late 1850s developed an interest in the idea of a Co-operative Society in Hinckley. The origins of the Hinckley and District Industrial Co-operative Society were the subject of an article by Sam Harris in an earlier Hinckley Historian. At a meeting held on August 6th 1861 at the Great Meeting.
George Dare became Secretary of the new Hinckley Co-operative Society and remained in that post until 1867. George also became a director of the new Hinckley and South Leicestershire Building Society, one other organisation designed to improve the social conditions of the area. As a Poor Law Guardian, George was all too well aware of the deprivation in the Hinckley Poor Law Union. In the Great Meeting itself George became Superintendent of the Sunday School, Chapel Trustee, Scripture Reader and often Preacher. Like his brother he taught many working men how to read and write.
The Hinckley from which George departed this life in 1883 was much improved as a result of the work of George and others who followed the example which the Dare family had set in the county. In the Burial Register of the Great Meeting the concluding record of George and his wife and the lives they led in Hinckley stands in the year 1883.
George Dare, aged 71, was buried at the Hinckley
Cemetery, August 27th, 1883 by W. A. Clarke.
Caroline Dare, aged 70, was buried at the Hinckley
Cemetery, October 25th, 1883 by W. A. Clarke.
Dares Walk remains as the one other reminder of the family which I here recall from that memorial on the chapel wall.
The Inquirer, 9th September 1922.
Simmons, J. A Victorian Social Worker g Joseph Dare and the Leicester Domestic Mission; Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, 1970-71.
White, W. Directory to Leicestershire 1846 described G. Dare as ‘Painter etc’ another Directory as ‘Plumber, Glazier, Shopkeeper’.
Harris, S. Early Days of the Hinckley and District Industrial Co-operative Society Limited Hinckley.
The Hinckley Historian No.2, Spring 1978.
My special thanks to Rev. Peter Hewis for the details from the Records of the Great Meeting and other items relating to the Dare family.
Author: Hugh Beavin
Written for: Hinckley Historian Magazine