A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode
Born in York in 1820, he was apprenticed at the age of 18 to James Pigott Pritchett,
one of the moist prolific and respected architects in the North East of England at this period.
Middleton married the boss’ daughter and moved to Darlington in his own practice c1844. They had one son, John Henry who became even more famous than his father but in a different profession.
The Middletons moved to Cheltenham c1859 and the town hosts many buildings to John Middleton’s design including five churches, the Ladies College, part of the Gentlemen’s College, Delancey Hospital and St Hilda’s College in Western Road.
John Middleton died in February 1885 while supervising the building of a mansion in Newcastle Emlyn in Wales and his body was brought back to Cheltenham for burial.
WILLIAM HILL KNIGHT
Born in Ross on Wye in 1814, Knight had moved to Cheltenham by 1835 at the latest when he married Matilda Hastings there. Hill was the family name on his mother’s side.
William and Matilda had two daughters and a son, the latter also named William Hill.
It seems that on arrival in Cheltenham Knight worked with Rowland Paul before setting up in business on his own.
In 1837 he had prepared designs for the Cheltenham Synagogue, while still working with R Paul, and he went on to design the High Street Grammar School, the Cheltenham College Baths and lodge and two College Boarding houses. His most prestigious works in the town are undoubtedly the Cheltenham Library, and Dean Close School’s original buildings. He died in Clevedon in 1895 while attempting to recuperate after an illness.
WILLIAM NASH SKILLICORNE (1807 – 1887)
The great grandson of Henry Skillicorne, the Founder of the Spa, William descended from a family long established in Cheltenham, probably since 1710. The family owned much land in the town and William inherited the whole of the Bayshill Estate selling it some time later for upwards of £50,000.
He was a staunch Liberal in politics, a magistrate for many years and one of the original six Aldermen of the town. His claim to remembrance however is that he was elected FIRST MAYOR OF CHELTENHAM IN 1876.
ADMIRAL HENRY CHRISTIAN MVO (1829 – 1916)
Admiral Christian was the County’s second Chief Constable and served from 1865 – 1910
He was a very stern and strict disciplinarian. He introduced cycle patrols in 1896 and in order to make sure that his police officers were doing their rounds properly, he introduced a system of clocking in at various strategic pre determined addresses in the town. The latter part of his term of office was fairly uneventful, hence his extended period of service. It was during this period that the ‘telephone system’ was upgraded and introduced into some of the outlying stations. The Admiral lived in The Park and was a loyal member of St Stephen’s Church. The War Memorial in the church bears the names of two (?) of his sons and at least one daughter was married there.
Born in Bengal 28th April 1795, Charles served as an Army Officer in Spain, France and Ireland. By 1839 he had been promoted to Surveyor General of South Australia where he did much work in exploring and mapping the interior of the continent.
He returned to England in 1853, and for a time lived in Tivoli Road, Cheltenham. He then moved to a larger property in Clarence Square where he died in 1869, just before his knighthood had been conferred. Her Majesty was so impressed by his reputation that she took the unprecedented step of allowing his widow to assume the title Dame, in his honour.
They are buried together at Cheltenham Cemetery. Dame Charlotte died at St John’s Lodge Tivoli the home of her son.
The well known local firm of RE & C Marshall was established in the town by 1822 when Richard Ede Marshall was born at 5, Constitution Place near Old Well Walk and now occupied by part of the Promenade opposite Imperial Gardens. This is Richard III’s grave, (the third member of the family to be so named.) With his brother Charles he succeeded to his father’s business. Father was Richard II. Richard IV, son of Richard III was born in 1856 and is also buried in this plot. He was responsible for the ironwork Chancel screen now in the church of Ss Philip and James. Leckhampton.
A contemporary of Adam Lindsay Gordon, Tom Pickernell and Tom Oliver, all well known to students of horse racing history. Born in 1833 George’s life was a short, exciting but tragic one. He was trained by Tom Oliver who ran a stables at Prestbury, and during his short career George rode five Grand National Winners, in 1856, 1863, 1864, 1869 and 1870. A great loss to the racing fraternity occurred in 1871, just after his most recent win, when the horse he was exercising on Cleeve Hill bolted down the hill and George was killed as a result. Only 38 years old, he was buried in this grave at Cheltenham Cemetery.
Not popularly well known but no doubt familiar to members of the Council, George Parsonage was Chairman of the Board of Town Commissioners and High Bailiff of the Manor of Cheltenham. He was a staunch Conservative and worked tirelessly to bring about Cheltenham’s Charter of Incorporation. He became Cheltenham’s fourth Mayor in 1882, and held that Office for five successive years. He died 3rd December 1891
Reverend CHARLES DENT BELL d.11.11.1898
Reverend Bell was the Rector of Cheltenham from 1872 – 1895. During his Incumbency, St Matthew’s Church was completed – in 1879 – and he proposed that it become the Parish Church of Cheltenham and that St Mary’s become a Chapel of Ease. There was so much opposition to his proposals that he was forced to withdraw. How history repeats itself!!
Brian JONES b1942.
First job as bus conductor. Moved to London in 1961 and in 1962 joined Rolling Stones as lead guitar. His life style was not conducive to healthy living. He left the group in 1969 and was drowned in a swimming pool tragedy in July of that year. Buried in Cheltenham, his grave is the focus of an annual pilgrimage by his fans.
Lt-Col ANDREW HYACINTH KIRWAN
Born in County Galway in 1798 he was awarded his first Army Commission at the age of 15. On retirement from active service in 1833 he came to live in Cheltenham and in 1835 was elected Master of the Ceremonies for Cheltenham. His role required him to welcome visitors, and preside over balls at the Assembly Rooms in the High Street. He was in fact the longest serving of all of Cheltenham’s MCs filling that post from 1835 to the year of his death in 1872. After his death, the post was not continued being considered to be ‘no longer necessary.’ His death was as a result of cancer of the face, caused by a bite from his favourite parrot. He was much loved, of noble form, cheering voice and polished courtesy.
Perhaps best known to members of the Society as the compiler of the manuscript History of Cheltenham, Miles was born in 1853. For thirty years he was a member of the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce and described in his obituary as one of the last generation in Cheltenham who knew how, and was willing, to give of their best for town and county. He passed away in full mental health, with his hand still in the harness of his History of Cheltenham. His funeral took place from Wesley Chapel only two days after his death, on 14th March 1932. He was aged 79.
John Brend WINTERBOTHAM
The son of the famous nonconformist, William, John Brend was for over forty years a solicitor in Cheltenham. He was one of the original 30 Town Commissioners and a staunch Liberal in politics. He died 22nd July 1881
In the same burial plot are the remains of his grand daughter, Clara Winterbotham who became Cheltenham’s first woman Mayor in 1921 at the age of 41 She died in 1967.
Sir Charles DARLING
Died at 10 Lansdown Terrace aged 61 on 25th January 1870. He was the son of a former Governor of Barbados but was himself born in Nova Scotia in 1809. He later became aide de camp to his uncle the more famous Sir Ralph Darling, who also lived in Cheltenham, having been Governor of New South Wales.
Sir Charles had served as Lt Governor or Governor in many places of the Empire his most recent having been Governor of Victoria. He was made a KCB for ‘public service’ and retired on a pension of £1500 per annum. He was thrice married.
Robert Aloysius WILKINSON
Born in Warrington in 1837, Father Wilkinson as he became, served the Catholic Church in Cheltenham from 1866, only nine years after the opening of St Gregory’s to which he was attached. He became Rector in 1873 and immediately set about completing the new Church which at the time was separated from its tower. His work was achieved by 1877 when Saint Gregory’s was consecrated.
Fr Wilkinson was an excellent preacher, beloved by everyone, although his sermons were known frequently to last between three quarters of an hour to an hour. But they were never uninteresting!! He served Cheltenham for 34 years and died in retirement in January 1907, aged 89. He had been a Priest for 44 years.
Edward Healy THOMPSON
Born in Oakham, in 1814, Edward became an Anglican Priest when he was old enough. However in 1846 he converted to Roman Catholicism. In 1868 he came to Cheltenham with his wife and devoted himself to writing and translating academic and religious works.
He lived at Pery Lodge in St George’s Road and after his death is widow continued to live there but in mourning and total seclusion. Edward died in 1891 aged 77 and left his extensive library to St Gregory’s Church. His nephew Francis Thompson was the poet of ‘Hound of Heaven’ fame.
Mrs Elizabeth FORSTER
After marriage Stuart and Elizabeth Forster purchased Postlip Hall and restored the medieval chapel there. Elizabeth had inherited £100,000 from her late father and was very generous to those in need. She and her husband split up in 1913 and she moved to a house next to the Rising Sun, named Petra. One day, a local Catholic Priest on his way to visit her, smelt burning. He peered through the drawing room window and saw flames leaping from the fireplace. He broke into the house, and found Mr Forster with her head against the bars of the grate, but the head was burnt to a cinder. Her torso was still on fire. This happened on Good Friday in 1915.
The Inquest decided that she had had a heart attack and collapsed as she tried to rise from her chair. It was thought that she was unconscious as she fell into the fire and suffered no pain.
Henry William CHATTERS
Henry Chatters was a local architect and at one time Chairman of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society. He was ARIBA and lived at the time of his death at Strathfield in Old Bath Road. He died at the age of 79 in 1931. He was originally in the firm of John Middleton but left to become a partner with William Hill Knight as Knight and Chatters in 1883. He designed many buildings in Cheltenham and worked with Knight on Dean Close School, Naunton Park School, the former Technical High School recently demolished in Gloucester Road, and many private houses in Eldorado Road. He was a staunchn supporter of Salem Baptist Church from where he was buried. He was for a considerable time, architect for St Paul’s College. He retired in 1920 having practised for over 37 years.
Dr Morton Brown.
A friend of John Middleton and many professionals in the town. Minister of the long demolished Highbury Congregational Chapel which was on the site now occupied by the Odeon Cinema. The present Highbury Church contains a wall memorial to his memory which was erected by John Middleton. The monument we see here is in its second location. The grave of Dr Morton Brown was not seen to full advantage in its original position at the Cemetery and so was moved in order that the many who would wish to pay their respects might do so in a more convenient position. John Middleton was responsible for the railings which surrounded the monument but these have long been removed. The details on the monument itself provide an adequate summary of Morton Brown’s achievements.