Stephen Walter Godin, listed as a Beddington ringer, was initially one of the harder men on the roll to pin down. Census searches immediately found two candidates for the S Godin listed on the roll, Stephen Walter Godin of Croydon and Stephen Walter Godin (some sources have him as Stephen Walker Godin) of New Malden. Neither far from Beddington, but no obvious direct connection with it either. Research in military record suggested that the New Malden man served as an officer in the Royal Naval Air Service and RAF. While there are some errors in the units given in the original roll of honour, this seemed to rule him out as the roll stated that S Godin served with King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
Eventually my policy of trawling through the wartime issues of The Ringing World paid off, with a report of S Godin “one of Beddington’s youngsters” ringing his first quarter peal for Palm Sunday (1 April) 1917. The Croydon man would have been just under 18 at that time, the New Malden man 34. It was then relatively easy to piece together the remaining details – though it has not been possible to confirm service with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
Stephen Walter Godin’s parents, Ernest Godin (25) and Edith Lucy Tullett (22), married at St Peter’s, Croydon on 19 December 1897. Ernest was an upholsterer, the fathers of both bride and groom had already died. Ernest’s address is given as 14 Duppas Hill Lane, Croydon, Edith’s as 22 Duppas Hill Lane. Ernest’s father (also Stephen Walter Godin) had been an upholsterer too, Edith’s a railway porter. Stephen (their first child) was born in late 1899, he was baptised on 24 December 1899, but unfortunately the register does not note his actual date of birth. The family were then living at 74a Frith Road, where they still were when the 1901 census was taken on 31 March 1901.
A younger brother, Frederick Ernest, was born in late 1903; and a sister, Edith May, in mid 1908. By 1911 the family had moved a short distance to 30 Frith Road. It is not clear exactly when Ernest started ringing, now why he went to Beddington, rather than the parish church of St Peter’s Croydon. They did not live that far from Arthur Ernest Plowman and his family, who was about 18 months older than Stephen, so it may simply have been that they were friends. There does not appear to be any record of Ernest Godin ever having been a ringer.
The 1917 quarter peal seems to be the only record of a specific piece of ringing by Stephen, no trace of a peal has been found. In the normal course of events he would have been called up later that year, no entry has been found in the Surrey Recruitment Registers (these are not complete). There is no medal index card (or any other surviving military record), this would suggest that any overseas service must have been after the Armistice.
While he does not seem to have been a prolific ringer, he seems to have been a steady Sunday service man. He died aged only 26 on 24 June 1926. He was buried on 28 June, and the following day a half-muffled peal of Grandsire Triples was rung in his memory. All eight members of the band were aged under 21 (the ages proudly listed in the peal report range from 16 to 20). The conductor, George Jennings (20) was ringing his 25th peal.