Banham Rectory: Canon R W Longley

So the first port of call, just a slight turn off the main road to Norwich, was Banham. Andrew and I only saw the tail-end of the twenty seven years that “Grandpa” (Canon R W Longley) spent there (from 1927 to his death in 1954), but the Rectory was a focal point for the children and grandchildren as well as a few other aunts and other relatives and friends, for a long long time. As a small child I especially remember Christmases there.

Banham is quite a large village – by the standards of some of the others I would visit later in the day – but I realised that I had known virtually nothing of it as a child. I was 6 at the most, so my Banham was restricted to the rectory and its grounds, and the church and churchyard. The car journeys to Banham that I remember from childhood were always highlighted by being the first to spot “grandpa’s church”: I’ve never found the road we used to take that offered this view, but these days Banham is mostly known for its zoo, which is very well-signposted from the main Norwich road.

St Mary's Banham

Banham Church in 2009

The church is still there, of course, and the clock that was restored by the family as a memorial to Canon & Mrs Longley (Reginald Walter and Alice Monica) is still running and on time. The rectory still stands, though the current vicar lives in a newer building where the stables used to be. The old rectory is now a small private school for autistic children.

Andrew and I had visited Banham a little over ten years ago, just after our father passed away, so there was nothing new to see this time. However, when we were there in 1998, we met a Mrs Rout ( I remembered the name as my mother had often spoken of the family), who said she remembered Canon Longley very well – in fact she remembered him arriving at Banham in 1927 (along with my mother, who would have been 17 years old then). When we spoke, Mrs Rout was 99 years old, and planning to be 100 in a few weeks time.

This time, in the cemetery, I spotted a fairly new gravestone – for Mrs Agnes Helen Rout, born 1897, died 2002, aged 104. She did well! I wondered if she had continued “doing” the flowers in the church, which she had been doing when we met her in 1997, right up to the end.  I don’t expect she was the last one in Banham to have remembered Canon Longley, but she was probably the last one to have remembered him right from the start.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by The Reverend David Hill on January 11, 2013 at 3:18 AM

    Good to read of your travels. I am the current Rector. There is a lovely photo of Canon Longley in my vestry in St Mary the Virgin. Pop in again if you want to see it. I think the road you remember with the view is probably Grove Road which is opposite the zoo.


  2. Thanks for this. I wonder if the old gravestone inscribed “reader stand still and do remark, here lies old Kemp the parish clerk . . .” is still in the church. My mother was always fond of quoting it.


  3. Posted by Valerie McAnna on November 9, 2013 at 5:18 AM

    This is really interesting. My mother was related to Canon Longley and auntie Monica and we often visited them. I remember the rectory well. My father was rector at Earsham for 27 years until he retired in 1982. We also knew the next incumbent in Banham and the daughter of the family attended St Albans High School for a time with my sister and I.


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