St Bartholomew’s, Norwich

Now it was time to press on the few miles into Norwich. Grandpa had been in Norwich for many years before Banham, (while his family was growing up) at a cluster of churches in the parish of Heigham, just to the west of the city walls.

4 of Reginald & Alice Longley's children

Bob, Eric, Hilda & Gerald Longley around 1915, probably at St Martin at Palace

I had turned to Crockfords Clerical Directory to get a complete list of his postings: and although I recognised all the names from family talk, I doubt if anyone in the family had ever written down the exact years: it’s the sort of thing that you don’t need to know at the time. Anyway, he was a curate of St Bartholomew, Heigham from 1903 to 1906, a curate of St Barnabas, Heigham from 1910 to 1912 and the vicar of St Philip’s, Heigham from 1918 to 1927. In between times he had various other postings, including a brief stint at the very small village of Saham Toney, where my mother (Hilda) was born, and the war years at St Martin at Palace, back in Norwich.

St Philips Heigham

St Philips Church and Vicarage, Norwich, c 1920

Heigham was a busy, mostly working class parish, enough to support three churches (in fact St Barnabas was only built in 1906 to cater for the growing population in the area). There is a painting of St Philip’s church in the living room at Rickmansworth, and I was keen to visit it. But it turns out that the church was closed in the early 1970s, and demolished a couple of years later. Today there are several large houses on the site, apparently occupied by priests working in the Norwich Diocese. St Bartholomew’s church was destroyed in the blitz, but the parish remains with that name.

In the days of the three churches, there had been a team of five vicars, assistant vicars and curates running the parish. I came across a wonderful photo in my mother’s collection: I recognised Canon Longley but had no idea about the others. Then purely by chance I came across a reference in a book review on the internet. The book, entitled “Somewhere in Flanders: Letters of a Norfolk Padre in the Great War”, was about Revd S F Leighton Green. The name jumped out at me: on the mantelpiece in my bedroom at Rickmansworth was a presentation clock, with the inscription “presented to the Revd S F Leighton Green by the parishioners of St Barnabas, 1921. I had always wondered who this man was, and why we had his clock.

Five vicars at Heigham, 1905

Heigham Clergy, 1905

The photo accompanying the book review was the same one that my mother had. It helped me identify, on the right, Leighton Green, next to him I recognised Revd Longley, and then Revd C C Lanchester, who was to remain at St Barnabas for 66 years. So the photo is explained, but I still don’t know why we had his clock. Leighton Green’s story is for another time: he died early, in another Norfolk parish, in 1929. Perhaps he left the clock to his former colleague, or even gave it to him earlier on.

Heigham was a crowded inner-city parish: it seems to have suited Sam Green, and probably Grandpa Longley as well: he had been born and brought up in Leeds, the son of a chemist and druggist whose business was close to the city centre: but more of that later. I wondered what he made of his last and longest posting in rural Norfolk.


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