The award winning Somerset Cricket Museum, which is situated at the County Ground and housed in a 500 year old Grade II listed building, the last remaining building of the Taunton Priory which was seized by King Henry VIII in 1539, re-opened its doors for the 2014 season earlier this week.

The new exhibition that has been specially assembled by Museum Trustees Louise Perrin and Barry Clifton to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War is entitled ‘War is Declared’ and has been attracting a huge amount of interest.

During the 1914-18 conflict 13 Somerset player lost their lives and this exhibition is dedicated to their memories.

Central to the featured exhibition are the 1914-18 war medals of Len Braund, which were discovered and purchased in the Topsham Antique Centre by Louise Perrin and more recently those awarded to Ralph Hancock have been loaned by the family.

Ralph Escott Hancock, who was born at Llandaff on December 20th 1887, was a member of the Wiveliscombe brewing family and perished at the age of 26, soon after the start of the conflict on October 29th 1914.

Hancock was a professional soldier who was a lieutenant in the Devonshire’s and between 1907 and 1914 he played in nine matches for Somerset between 1907 and 1914 in which he scored 206 runs. He also played rugby for the county.

David Wood the SCM curator takes up the story. “Ralph Escott was among the first wave of soldiers going to France in August 1914. He won the Distinguished Service Order on 23 October 1914 for rescuing one of his injured men from no-man’s land.

“The DSO was second only to the Victoria Cross at that time. He was killed, aged 26, on 29 October 1914. He has no known grave but his name is recorded on a battlefield memorial. The DSO is the medal on the left. The three other medals are the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.”

His family dedicated a window in Wiveliscombe Church to his memory.

Middlesex member Mr Alvan Seth-Smith, who is a member of the Hancock family, was down during the pre-season match between the two sides to pass over the First World War medals won by Ralph Hancock.

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