A COMMEMORATIVE plaque has been unveiled at the site in North Yorkshire where a decorated First World War army chaplain trained for a place in the church.

Known as “Woodbine Willie” for his habit of giving out cigarettes to troops, the Rev Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy will now be remembered in Ripon, where he trained at the former Clergy College and which now bears the plaque in his honour.

He won the Military Cross in 1917 at Messines Ridge in Flanders after running into No Man’s Land to help the wounded during an attack on the German frontline.

After the war he became a prominent Christian socialist and pacifist. He died on a lecture tour in Liverpool in 1929.

The plaque, which marks the history of the building, was dedicated by the Rt Rev John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, yesterday. It was funded by donations from the Bishop, from the former Archdeacon of Richmond, Janet Henderson, and from Ripon College Cuddesdon, the successor to Ripon Clergy College.

David Winpenny, chairman of Ripon Civic Society, said: “Ripon Clergy College was a feature of the city for only a few years but in that time trained many men for the Church of England – and among them Army chaplains like Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy.

“The society is proud to mark the college’s history and its most famous alumnus with this plaque, and we are very grateful to everyone who has contributed to it.”