Please click here to read about the earlier vicars
Click here to read about the Vicarage itself
Alan Whitmore Cornwall
was Vicar of Thornbury 1899 - 1924. The photograph below shows part of a portrait in the collection of the National Portrait
Gallery. It was taken in 1929 and given apparently given to the
Gallery by Pinewood Studios via the Victoria and Albert Museum.
We can't explain how Pinewood Studios had a portrait of the Rev Cornwall.
Alan Cornwall was
born in Uley on 4th October 1858 and was the son of the Rev Alan Kingscote
Cornwall of Ashcroft Wotton under Edge. He went to Eton in 1872.
After studying modern history at Christ Church Oxford, he was ordained in
We understand that he was
Curate of Cirencester from
1884-90,and Curate of St Catherine in Gloucester until 1891.
He was the Vicar of Coleford
until 1899, when he was then appointed to the parish of Thornbury.
Presumably it was while he was in Coleford that he married Alice Louisa
Cripps in the Cirencester district in 1893. The Bristol Mercury of
March 17th 1894 had the announcement of the birth of their daughter Isabel
Mary in Coleford. Alice Eleanor was born there in 1895 and Frances
Sophia the following year. Alan Edward was the last of their children
to be born in Coleford. His birth was registered in Monmouth in the
September quarter of 1898.
Their second son John Whitmore Cornwall was
born on April 24th 1900 at the vicarage and baptised in
Thornbury on 27th May. The Census of 1901
confirms that Alan and Alice Louisa were living in Thornbury Vicarage with
their five children. Richard Frank's birth was registered in Thornbury
the following year in the June quarter of 1902. Nigel Edmund their
youngest child was born in the December quarter of 1903. Thornbury and
District Museum has a photograph of all seven of the children taking tea
with their parents on the lawn of the Vicarage. We have a thumbnail
image of the photograph here. Please click on it for a larger version.
The 1911 Census shows that aged 52
the Rev Cornwall was still living at the
Vicarage in Thornbury with his wife Alice Louisa aged 48. At that time
they had been married 17 years and had had seven children, of whom five were
living in the household at the time of the Census. They were; Isabel
Mary aged 17, Frances Sophia aged 14, John Whitmore aged 10, Richard Frank
aged nine and Nigel Edmund aged seven. They had a governess Marianne Badinski
and three servants, Jessie Cullimore aged 25, Annie Savage aged 22 and Edith
Gibbs aged 21. Their son Alan was away at boarding school in Berkshire at the
time of the Census. Nigel was educated at Marlborough and then Oriel
College Oxford. We have been unable to find Alice Eleanor Cornwall
in this Census.
The records of the Thornbury
Cricket Club show that Alan and his sons were very active in the cricket
club and much appreciated by them. The following thumbnail sketch was
written about them by Edgar Mervyn Grace and we are grateful to Les
Summerfield, the Cricket Club and Mike Grace for allowing us to use these
Rev. Canon A. W. Cornwall – Vicar of
Thornbury, 1889 to 1924 and life member of the Cricket Club 1909 to 1932.
Played for Thornbury on the Castle ground, being a steady bat. He had a
sporting family of 4 sons and 3 daughters, also a son-in-law who was a
Cambridge Hockey ‘Blue’ and with Miss R. Lloyd and Norman and Edgar Grace
played mixed hockey on the road side of the ‘Ship Field’ with great
success. He became Archdeacon in 1924 and left Thornbury and his tragic
death soon after his retirement after being bitten while separating a dog
fight was a terrible blow to his many friends in Thornbury.
A.E.C. Cornwall – the eldest of the
Canon’s four sons, Alan Cornwall made his mark in cricket during the First
World War by scoring three consecutive centuries for Marlborough, and was a
very good sound batsman, well remembered by all who batted at the other end,
for he used to drive the ball like a bullet straight back on the side of the
wicket, where the other batsman had to jump very quickly to avoid being
killed. He became a Master at Marlborough and played several times for
Gloucestershire C. C. C., though he enjoyed playing for Thornbury much more.
Frank, Norman and Nigel Cornwall –
all brothers of Alan, although nothing like such good players, turned out
occasionally for Thornbury until they left to distinguish themselves in
other fields – Frank in the Marines, and the other two in the Church.
Alan was made the Hon. Canon of
Gloucester in 1911. On
leaving Thornbury in 1924 he became Vicar of Nether Swell and Upper Swell
from 1924 to 1927.
He was Archdeacon of Cheltenham when he died on 9th
June 1932. He died of septicaemia after being bitten while trying to
separate two dogs that were fighting. Probate was granted to two of his
sons, Alan Edward Cripps Cornwall a schoolmaster and Rev John Whitmore
Cornwall a clerk. John became Rector of Minchinhampton and
there is a memorial there saying that he died on February 12th 2001. A
later occupant of Thornbury Vicarage and also a Rector of Minchinhampton at
one time, Canon Michael Vooght met John Whitmore Cornwall and showed
him around the vicarage where John had spent his childhood. He was
able to tell many stories about growing up there with so many servants and a
Alan and Alice's youngest son, Nigel Edmund Cornwall was called to work
abroad and was Bishop of Colombo in 1938, Missionary Priest in Masasi
Tanganyika from 1939 to 1949 and then Bishop of Borneo from 1949 to
Claud Rutledge Cotter was Vicar
of Thornbury 1924 - 1930. He was born in 1876 in Blakenwell Heath in Staffordshire, the
son of William Lawrence Cotter who was also a vicar. He studied at
Christ Church Oxford and Cuddesdon Theological College before joining the
Christ Church's East London Mission of St Frideswide.
He married his cousin,
Beatrice Eleanor Cotter, the daughter of another vicar, Edmund Cotter, in Sherborne
Abbey in Dorset on January 6th 1909. The 1911 Census shows that
then aged 34 he lived in Poplar in London with his wife Beatrice aged 24 and
their two servants.
They had five children. Patrick their eldest son was born 27th
November 1909. The other children were Biddy, Diana Edith Beatrice,
born 27th November 1913, Mary Rutledge Cotter (known as Mollie, she is now in 2013
aged 97 and living in Canada) and Martin. According to his daughter
Mollie, Claud was a very gifted musician and was excellent at maths.
We note that Claud Cotter felt strongly about the plight of the poor in his London
parish of Poplar. In 1921 he wrote to The Times expressing his
concerns about the plight of the unemployed in his area. In 1924 it was felt
necessary for Claud to leave his parish in London for health reasons.
He may just have been exhausted by the work load but his daughter Mollie
said that he also suffered from rheumatism and sciatica.
For whatever reason, the Rev Cotter and his family moved to Thornbury in
1924. On 1st August
1930 he obtained a mortgage of £44 from the charity Queen Anne's
Bounty to improve the parsonage house and offices in Thornbury. Whilst
in Thornbury he acquired a motor car, a Morris convertible. Although
his wife soon learned to master the new vehicle, Claud was rather slower to
learn and hit a cow at an early stage in his driving career. The other
form of transport used by the Rev Cotter and his family was of course the train line via Yate. There were
few passengers for this as the service was slow and infrequent.
Click here to read more about the Thornbury to Yate
line. Claud was always reluctant to board the train
until it was actually ready to leave. Mollie Cotter can recall him
walking up and down the platform with his wife, only to have
Mr Gill, the train's driver
approach them and say "if you are ready, Mr Cotter, we'll start."
Diana and Mollie Cotter attended Thornbury Grammar School from March 1925
and found it a great culture shock. The Grammar School was generally
where the children of the trades-people were educated whilst the children of
professional people would normally be educated privately. We are not
sure if this was a deliberate policy to educate the girls locally or the
results of the economic crash at this time. The school was
co-educational but the girls were reminded that any contact with boys could
only take place on the tennis court or cricket pitch and even then only with
with parental or at least adult supervision. Mollie particularly
seemed to find the school intimidating with its emphasis on corporal
punishment, especially for boys. They were also shocked by the jokes
and stories of their fellow pupils.
During the War,
Claud and Beatrice's son
Patrick Claud Cotter
joined the RAF. He became a Pilot Officer and was reported missing after his first air
operation in April 1943. It was subsequently confirmed that he had been
killed in action, leaving a widow Mary. He was aged 33.
His death was commemorated
on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 131and on the Runcton Holmes Memorial.
Claud died aged 77 in Devon on
October 2nd 1953. His widow Beatrice died on 18th April 1963, also in Devon.
Their grand-daughter Helen Stell has kindly allowed us to use the two
photographs we have here of Claud Cotter. The one below on the right shows the wedding of Claud and Beatrice. Please click on them both for
larger images. Mrs Stell has also provided some more information about
Claud for us to use on the site. These included a tribute from later
parishioners: "He had a very personal and human touch and a sympathetic
understanding of ordinary men and women. He inspired a number of young
men to offer themselves for ordination. When enemy bombing brought
nightly terror to every household (in Lewisham) the vicar and his wife
worked selflessly in housing and comforting the victims of enemy action."
Apparently a friend of his described him in these words: "He
was a most loveable character with childlike faith and simplicity. He
bore personal bereavement without a word of self pity or complaint. In churchmanship he was very close to the Oxford Movement, but he was not
extreme. A born teacher his sermons were simple and direct, full of
good matter and humour. He brought to his work spiritual gifts of a
very high order."
He continued to work as a parish priest until the age of
75. Mrs Stell says that he took a keen interest in cricket.
Apparently while out driving he would stop if he spotted a village cricket
match he would slow down and even stop in the hopes of watching someone "hit
a six". His last words to his daughter when he was dying was "what's the
cricket score, Biddy?" '
The records of the Thornbury
Cricket Club show that Claud was very active in the cricket club and much
appreciated by them. The following thumbnail sketch was written about
him by Edgar Mervyn Grace and we are grateful to Les Summerfield, the
Cricket Club and Mike Grace for allowing us to use these notes:
Rev. C. R. Cotter – life member 1930
after playing for the club from 1924, after which he went to Mansfield,
Nottinghamshire where his first duty was to take the funeral of a popular
Notts and England batsman, W. W. (‘Dodge’) Whysall at which ten thousand
were present. A very jovial sporting Vicar of Thornbury he enjoyed his
cricket very much, and it was always a pleasure to play with him. His
sermons were short and to the point, often illustrated by stories of local
events, which pointed out the moral. A curious feature was the fact that he
could not preach from the high pulpit and addressed the congregation from a
low wooden platform on the floor.
Frederick Bernard Gunnery
was Vicar of Thornbury 1930 - 1936. He was born in Islington in
1867. His parents were Catherine and Reginald Gunnery. He
graduated from Christ Church Oxford in 1890 and became Curate of St John
Baptist in Bournemouth in 1891. He married Helen Young in 1895 in Christchurch
Their daughter Monica's birth was
registered in the Wycombe area in 1896, followed by Lois in 1897, Ruth in
1898 and Aletha in 1900.
The 1901 Census shows that Frederick then aged 34 lived
in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire with his wife Helen then aged 28.
At that time they had four children: Monica aged four, Lois aged three, Ruth aged
and Aletha aged one year.
The birth of Bernard Gunnery was
registered in Newport Pagnell in 1905, which may be some indication of when
they moved. Ursula's birth was also registered
there in 1908. The 1911 Census shows the family in
Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire. Oswald Gunnery's birth was
registered there in 1912.
In 1914 The Slough Eton and Winsor
Observer reported that the Rev F B Gunnery who was then still the Vicar of
Newport Pagnell had resigned the presidency of the Newport Musical Society
of which he was one of the founders because applause had been allowed to
sacred words and music at the society's concerts.
Frederick Gunnery was Vicar of All Saints Wath upon Dearne from
1921 to 1930.
We have a photograph here of Helen Gunnery taken while
the couple lived in Thornbury.
Frederick died on 4th July 1936 at 4 Ralton Road Eastbourne.
Probate was granted to his widow Helen and to Bernard Gunnery a
Henry Erskine McLeod was
Vicar of Thornbury 1937 - 1943. Henry Erskine McLeod was born in
Ellon Aberdeenshire about 1883. He was the son of the Rev Nicolas
McLeod and his wife Constance. The 1911 Census shows that aged 28 he
was living with his widowed mother in London and working at the Bank of
From 1922 to 1927
we understand that he was at St John's in Bognor. The 1928 - 1936 Electoral
Registers show that Henry lived at the Rectory in Spelthorne in Surrey with
Dorothy, Mildred and Rachel before coming to Thornbury. It would
appear from what Elizabeth Cochrane told us below that these ladies were his
The Western Daily Press of January 4th
1937 reported that Rev Henry McLeod had been appointed Vicar of Thornbury to
replace the late Mr Gunnery. At that time he was said to be Rector of Shepperton
in Middlesex where he had been since 1927.
Shepperton is in the borough of Spelthorne, Surrey which was in
the former historic county of Middlesex
Cochrane who has contributed to this website a considerable amount of
information about her former home at Fairfield House was a very young parishioner
at that time. She recalls that Mr Mcleod was unmarried and had seven
sisters, some of whom lived with him. She said that the children
found his "probably very erudite sermons" rather boring. She used to attend the children's service in mid
morning where she was given stickers for her album, which was her incentive
to be good.
In March 1943 The Western Daily Press
announced that the Rev McLeod had been appointed to the parish of Friern
Barnet in London.
Robert Gwillym Rawstorne
was Vicar of Thornbury 1943-1976.
He was born on 15th November 1907, the youngest of six children and baptised
on Christmas day at St Michael and All Angels in Croston Lancashire. His
father Atherton Gwillym Rawstorne was the vicar of St Michael and All Angels
in Croston in the early 1900s and was the first and only
Bishop of Whalley from 1909 to 1936. Robert Rawstorne's mother was
formerly Anne Frances
His middle name Gwillym comes from the maiden name of his
grandmother, Mary Gwillym who married Robert Atherton Rawstorne in Clifton in
The 1911 Census shows the family lived at Croston.
In December 1932 Robert sailed from
Southampton to New York on SS Berengaria. In
January 1933 he sailed from New York to Southampton on SS Aquitania described as a
student aged 25 whose address was Croston Rectory.
Robert Rawstorne married Joan
Margaret Glas Sandeman in Lancaster in 1936. Their daughter
Alicia was born in 1938 and her birth was registered in the Cheltenham
District. In 1937 Robert Rawstorne was living at St Petroc, Cowleigh Bank
in Malvern Worcestershire with his wife. Background notes published in
the Western Daily Press dated 13th August 1943 when he was moving to
Thornbury mention that Robert was a schoolmaster in a preparatory school in
The family moved to
Norton St Philip in 1939 and Robert became curate there. In March 1940 the birth of their son Martin was
registered there. In this period Robert commanded the Norton St
Phillip platoon of the Home Guard in which he held the rank of Lieutenant. By 1941 the phone book confirms
that they lived at The Cottage, Norton St Phillip near Bath.
Their son Julian was born in
1943 and his birth was registered in Frome. Andrew Francis was born in the District of Bath in 1947. The Western Daily Press of
June 14th 1943 said that Rev Rawstorne was still curate of Norton St Philip in
Somerset when he was appointed Vicar of Thornbury.
The photograph on the right shows
Robert Rawstorne and his wife Joan with their children Julian, Andrew, Martin
Please click on the image for a larger photograph. Martin and Julian both
became solicitors. Andrew become a local government officer.
According to Frank Biddle's
account of the Maritime Regiment World War II "was a very busy time for
the Rev. R. G. Rawstorne, Vicar of Thornbury who had become the Regimental
Chaplain. The usual practice was to hold a Church Parade and Service at the
Church on Saturday mornings. At different times during the week meetings
were held attended by about twenty men each time where there were free
discussions led by the Vicar. These were very popular and the Rev. (now
Canon) Rawstorne was held in great esteem by both officers and men of the
Robert Rawstorne died
in the Yeovil area on 14th August 1990
aged 82. There is a memorial to him in the chancel of St Mary's
Edward Arthur Nobes was Vicar
of Thornbury 1976 - 1984. He was born 14th
October 1936 in Portsmouth, Hampshire. His parents were Arthur Nobes
and Hilda Mary nee Rumfitt. Edward Nobes married Janice Ridley on 1st
December 1960 in Mansfield Nottinghamshire. Their son Jeremy was born
in Cambridgeshire in 1964. The photograph on the left hand side is a
thumbnail image of Edward Nobes taken in 1978. The photograph has some
interest in its own right as he is standing by the entrance to the Glebe by
a tree that has now disappeared. Please click on it
for a larger image. The photograph appeared in a local newspaper with
an article interviewing Mr Nobes who explained that by that time he was
married with three children. He had been vicar at St Mary's for two years.
He explained in the interview that he had plans to make a new church
magazine with a wider appeal and distribution; '" I like the image of the
church as the salt of the earth," he said. "It's no good in the salt cellar.
It's got to be spread around. The church should be infusing the entire
community with Christian values. It is not just a club for nice
The article went on to explain that the
Rev Nobes' wife Janice had undergone extensive surgery for cancer and had
recently set up a Cancer Research Fund Committee in the town.
Janice Nobes died 6th September 1983.
Their son Jeremy married
Margaret Ann Booth of Norfolk in 1989. Edward Nobes was Rector of Gamlingay Church when he died on 5th February 1993 aged 56
Michael George Peter Vooght was
Vicar of Thornbury 1985 -2002. Michael and his wife Elizabeth came to
Thornbury from Minchinhampton where Michael had been rector. The
rectory there was where the novelist Joanna Trollope had spent some of her
childhood visiting her grandfather Rev Rex Hodson. Rev Hodson was rector there in
the 1940s and 50s. Michael was the first of Thornbury's vicars to
apply for an advertised vacancy. Previously the vicars had all been
suggested and approved
by the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church. Apart
from that innovation Michael was officially appointed by Christ Church,
having been interviewed there and was formally presented to St Mary's church
by a senior member of Christ Church in the tradition maintained for so long.
It is interesting to note that
when asked for a photograph as himself as Vicar at St Mary's, Michael gave
us a picture of the Parochial Church Council of St Mary's as it had been in
his time, saying that church was run as by a team these days. It seems
unlikely that some of the earlier vicars would have been quite so modest. We have a thumbnail image here on the right of Rev Vooght and the
Parochial Church Council. Please click on it for a larger photograph.
There seem to have been some other
changes during the time that Michael Vooght was the vicar in Thornbury.
In 1987 there was another milestone in the life of St Mary's Church when
Pat Lyes-Wilsden became the first woman curate in that church. In 1997
there was yet another dramatic change when a new vicarage was built in the
grounds of the
old vicarage, which was no longer practical as a vicarage.
The new building was designed to be smaller and so less expensive to run but
accessible to all. We have a thumbnail photograph above left of Michael and
Elizabeth Vooght moving into the new vicarage in November 1997. Please
click on it to see a larger version.