A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode
The following ‘Profile’ though not in itself a biography is still of great interest in that it gives a very chatty picture of life at St Stephen’s at the beginning of the 1900s. It was written by the late Joyce Kirkland for the centenary of St Stephen’s in 1973 but did not see the light of day.
On looking at mother’s diary, a five year one, I see the entry, “Sam and I went to St Stephen’s Church special War Service, Sunday August 9th 1914.”
We came from Worcestershire to live in the Lansdown Road in the Spring of 1913 and though my earliest memory of being taken to church is of Christmas Day in the Cathedral at Worcester, I also remember being taken to St Mark’s, Cheltenham, as of course we had moved into that parish. On emerging from that service, my mother said “Too low” and we never went there again. Then came St Stephen’s, pew number 15 in the north aisle and this must have been in Canon Jennings’ time. Matins, and how I was bored! I could not yet read the dreary sounding psalms and I remember most vividly the change when Robert Hodson came as Parish Priest as his sermons were something that even a child could appreciate. He was a superb preacher and teacher.
What did the child of 60 years ago think about church going anyway? I think we accepted it much as we accepted going to school – teeth had to be cleaned, a habit to be formed young. We sang the hymns and in no time the familiar words of the loved Book of Common Prayer were part of our understanding and love. Hoddy began a new chapter at St Stephen’s. He it was who introduced the Choral Eucharist at 10am before Matins and as we came out of the former service, the diehards of Edwardian Cheltenham, the colonels and their Mem Sahibs waited in the porch for their Matins!
The Curates I remember were Mr Crossman who did duty in the war while Hoddy was a Chaplain to the Forces in France. The Rev Hugh Marmaduke Rowden died of the wicked killer influenza in 1918. He took the children’s service hardly able to stand or speak and retired immediately to bed in his digs in one of the tall terraced houses in St Stephen’s Road – and died. My mother had sent delicacies round to try to tempt him to eat, but to no avail. His Memorial Tablet is on the wall as one enters the vestry from the church, and he was buried near the south door of Charlton King’s Church.
Those of us who were children in the 1914-1918 war will never forget the insufficient nourishment in the horrible margarine, the dearth of potatoes, the soldiers in the houses in the Lansdown Road , troops marching down the roads singing “It’s a long way to Tipperary”, the ambulances bringing the wounded to New Court Hospital, and above all the intense cold. One’s face sponge was solid ice and so was the water in the jug in one’s bedroom.
Robert Hodson returned from the war and set about to build the new vicarage in Andover Road. Until then number 1, Lansdown Terrace was the Vicar’s home and he had a small chapel in the basement. I learned to kick a football with his son John, taught by Mr Hawker the famous and dearly loved Verger for so many years. John Hodson , Robert’s son, became a Priest and up to 1973 he was a Canon of Cape Town Cathedral and Rector of Christ Church, Constantia in Cape Province.
Confirmation classes were held privately at the vicarage or in church en masse. I was instructed in the vicarage and was confirmed in St Stephen’s in March 1921 along with about fifty others. Old Bishop Gibson confirmed us and of course all the girls had new white dresses, cotton gloves and a lawn veil. Girls up one side, boys the other. My father, a die hard Victorian had refused to allow me to ‘be done’ until I was 14, whereas Hoddy believed 12 or 13 was the right age. First Communion was Easter Sunday, a superb spring day, and on returning from the 7am service, I found our beloved cat had produced six kittens in the chaff bin in the stables. Yes, we still kept horses in those days. My mother and I used to get up at 6am and creep out of the house and walk along the Lansdown Road to the 7am Communion. We hoped that my father would be unaware of our excursion. He was deeply suspicious of High Church practices and had been brought up from 1860 by an extreme evangelical maiden aunt. Church thrice on a Sunday, no games and only holy books read. No wonder he said that he’d had his fill of church going and anyway, he always caught cold when he went! I think he was afraid that we would end up as religious maniacs and on reading some of his family’s letters from 100 years ago, I think some of his family actually verged on that malady.
As we grew older, girlish giggles assailed us in church. We ogled the choirboys and I was even taken for a walk by one and kissed in what is now a built up area around Hatherley. Once when our mirth overtook us in church, Miss Schuster of beloved memory, leaned forward and said, “If you don’t behave I shall take you out!” This did fairly shake us up. My mother’s deafness meant that we sat two pews from the front at the Eucharist and Evensong, so there was also the eagle eye of Hoddy to subdue us. The organist was Mr Townley and he collected a first class choir. Dr Herbert Brewer of Gloucester Cathedral came to play for community hymn singing at one time. There were three Townleys in the choir and also Ronald Greenslade who had a superb voice.
The War memorial Chapel was begun soon after the war and one only has to look at the inscribed names to realise how heavy were our losses. I sometimes read them and remember back to the gay young men in khaki, brothers of my girl friends, home on leave from the trenches, but whose names are now there.
The Reverend Addenbroke came and the stirring days of Hoddy were followed by a period of consolidation. He was much older but had the same tradition of Churchmanship. I married in 1930 and Hoddy came back to tie the knot as they say and Rev Addenbroke assisted. He was a great favourite at the tea parties of the old ladies in the parish and I can well remember his kindliness, firmness, white hair and red face.
After 1930 until 1947, I was following the drum as Hoddy called it, returning from leave only to make the acquaintance of Canon Ronald Sutch. But Father Hilder I did know well. He it was who prepared my daughter for confirmation. My son was baptised at St Stepehen’s by Rev Addenbroke, and my daughter was married there by Rev George Willis.
There have been many changes over the 60 years of my worshipping there. Many influences, some stranger than others, but I have always thought that there is something St Stephen’s can give to its Parish Priests, as well as what we the laity can give to them, and far, oh infinitely far more that we can give to the God whom we worship within these walls.
Baptisms, confirmations, First Communions, weddings, funerals, and then it all begins again in another generation.
St Stephen’s has an ugly exterior, but after my daughter’s wedding a Priest wrote to me that it was one of the loveliest Victorian Churches he had ever known.
(Joyce Kirkland, the author of these memories died in the late 1990s and hoped that this ‘Memory’ would be shared with a wider audience.’
Biographical details of Reverend Edward Cornford:
Rev Edward Cornford was the son of Edward, a solicitor.
He held the post of Vicar of Cam, near Dursley from 1862-1875 and also the post of Curate of Christ Church from 1873 -1878.
His previous career was as follows:
St John’s College, Cambridge, BA 1855 and MA 1863.
Made Deacon at Exeter Cathedral 1856 and Priest 1857 in Grahamstown. In 1856 he was curate at Loxbear, and Chaplain to the Bishop of Grahamstown 1857-1859 .
From 1860-1862 he was curate of Stroud and from 1862 Vicar of Cam, until 1875, but from 1873 – 1878 he was also curate of Christ Church, Cheltenham and from 1874, had responsibility for St Stephen’s.
From 1873 he lived in Tivoli Road at St Edmund’s and is listed under resident Gentry in the Directories.
From 1864 until his retirement he was also Diocesan Inspector of Schools and in 1875 was also Hon Sec of the Cheltenham Church of England Training College ( St Paul’s) by which time he was living at Lansdown Lodge, Lansdown Road.
From 1880 until 1891 he was living at Etchowe, (8) Lansdown Road. He was aged 57 in the 1891 Census – ‘Clerk in Holy Orders’ a widower, living with three daughters- E.E; M.E.A;and H.A. and a house chamber maid.
1868 Edward Cornford BA Vicar of Cam and Diocesan Inspector of schools.
Instituted 1862 . Curate rev R E Trye
Value of living £150
1875 T.A. Penley Vicar of Cam
1880 Ed Cornford Diocesan Inspector of Schools only.
1894 Ed Cornford living at Etchwe, Lansdown Road.
D. St John’s Cambridge BA 1858; MA 1863.
Dec on 1856 Exeter; Priest 1857 Grahamstown. Chaplain to Bishop of Grahamstown 1857-1859; Curate Stroud 1860-1862; Vicar of Cam 1862 – 1875; Christ Church Cheltenham and St Stephen ‘s 1873-1878
Inspector of Schools 1864-1867.
Made Deacon in 1856 and then shortly after that went to S Africa as Chaplain to the Bishop of Grahamstown . On his freturn to England he was curate at Stroud, then Vicar of Cam. BHis work as diocesan inspector of Schools brought nhim to Cheltenham and he later accepted the curacy of Christ Church under Canon Fenn. During his later years he was without duty and gave voluntary service to the Hospital and the school of Art.
Edward’s brother James was curate of Walcot, Bath in 1868, Rector of Peper(?),Harrow in Surrey in 1880 and then Vicar of Cainscross in 1893.
Another brother Nathanial, also had a local career:
BA 1860, MA 1864 . Deacon 1861, Priest 1862. He was curate of St James, Bristol 1861-1865, then of Newland, Gloucestershire 1865-1868. From 1868 he was curate of Weobley, Herefordshire and then moved to become Vicar of Horsley and Chavenege until 1874 when he became, , Vicar of St Mark’s, Gloucester and from 1875, Vicar of St Nathanial’s, Kingsdown, Bristol.
Nathanial’s son, Bruce, also was a Priest and founded St Matthew’s, Portsmouth. He was ‘A colourful and controversial Priest’.
Another brother Arthur was made deacon in 1860 and Priest in 1861 at Lichfield. He was curate of Belper 1860-1862, St Mary, Bury st Edmund’s 1862-1864, St John’s Lowestoft 1864-1866 and then curate of Norbiton, Kingston, Surrey. From 1877-1887 he was Vicar of St Luke, Kingston. in 1868 .
The first Baptismal entry by Rev Cornford, for a Tivoli person is recorded in the Christ Church registers:
Dec 25th 1872: Albert Edward Kilby, 33 Hatherley Street . Father ‘s name Thomas; Mother’s name Sarah.
Signed E Cornford.
4th November 1874.
The memorial Chancel of the proposed church of St Stephen, Tivoli was formally opened by special licence from His Lordship on Friday last.
The opening service was of the simplest possible character but the building was crowded, there being over 100 persons present. The service was conducted by Reverend Edward Cornford, Vicar of Cam and Curate of Christ Church. The Rev H G Hopkins read the first lesson and the second was read by Rev T Hardy. The service concluded with Holy Communion.
The Sunday evening service was fully attended some being turned away. The service was conducted by Rev Cornford.
16th January 1878
Both the Reverend J Fenn and his curate the reverend Edward Cornford last week each suffered bereavement. Rev Fenn’s father died aged 87
Mrs Elizabeth Cornford, aged 47, wife of Reverend Edward, always suffered from ill health. In the morning, Rev Cornford’s place at St Stephen’s was gtaken by Rev Mr SWilkins, son of the Clerk at Christ Church. IN the evening, Mr fenn preached about Mrs Cornford: ‘ Only weeks and even months ago she was lying in pain and suffering but her life she prolonged as a gain for her husband and children.’ Canon Fenn quoted at length from Romans Chapter 12.
10th. April 1878
Rev E Cornford who for some years past has been curate at Christ Church and has had charge of the District Church of St Stephen , has placed his resignation in the hands of the Bishop .
Examiner 29th May 1878
The Rev Edward Cornford was lecturer at the third Meeting of Cheltenham Natural Science Society, when he lectured on the Natural History of Cheltenham.
Rev Cornford is General Secretary of the Society.
10 July 1878.
The Resignation of Rev Cornford: the partly finished church of St Stephen, Tivoli was crowded on Sunday last on the occasion of the Reverend Cornford taking duty for the last time. In the evening many were disappointed at not being able to join in as there literally was no room. Frequent were the expressions of regret at the Reverend gentleman’s resignation. The service ended with 100 persons receiving Holy Communion, nearly all residents of Tivoli. ( He was 45 at the time)
Reverend Cornford does not intend to leave Cheltenham. He will be presented next week with a gold watch and chain by Howlett and a binocular antinometer microscope by Collins of London, subscribed for by 155 congregation and friends.
To The Revd Edward Cornford M.A.
Revd & Dear Sir
We as the congregation of St Stephens Cheltenham can not permit your departure from us without an expression of our profound regret.
Your successful labours in collecting the congregations and forming a voluntary choir speak for themselves; while your honorary and assiduous exertions in Christ Church Sunday Schools The National Schools and at the Normal Training College are well known.
But we lose a personal friend as well as a valued Spiritual guide and wishing you should carry with you (always a) permanent record of our regard we ask your acceptance of the accompanying Watch and Chain and Compound Microscope. The use of these things will we hope sometimes bring back to your mind pleasant thoughts of the friends who with every wish for your future happiness, subscribe themselves.
Your’s very sincerely,
The scroll containing the above names was presented to Rev Edward Cornford on his retirement 1878.
Rev H Griffiths
Charles C Walkley
S H Irving
The Misses Whish
W John Webb
I E Holtam
C I White
I E Plant
C E Williams
H L Biffin
Courtney E Prance
R K Pringle
Mrs Kemys Riddell
I K Carr
M A Giddings
Joseph Cormell jnr
MR Mrs Williams
M A Williams
L A Richards
Mrs A Falls-Little
The Bell Ringer
William Tinker jnr
T E Mann
H E Player
Mrs Berkely Colcott
Mr Mrs Callum
Mrs Forsyth Grant
Maj Gen Shipley
W H Gastrell
Mrs O’ Neile
W W Walker
M A Clutterbuck
M A Maltby
This photograph shows the newly completed church of St Stephen in 1885, the year in which by Easter, the present pulpit had replaced the original wooden one. The chairs one can see in the bottom of the picture , were replaced by the present pews, in time for Harvest Festival in September also in that same year so this picture dates from between Easter and Harvest 1885.
Marriage at St Stephen’s of Margaret Cornford, in 1891, daughter of Rev Edward Cornford. The ceremony was conducted by her uncle, Nathaniel.
Examiner 17th February 1897
The marriage between Reverend Edward Cornford and Miss Maude Ledger was solemnised yesterday at the Parish Church in Cheltenham. The Rev Cornford is Vicar of Shipton Bellinger near Andover and was formerly resident at Etchowe, Landsown Road, Cheltenham. Miss Ledger of Shrub Hill, Dorking is sister of Rev C G Ledger, senior Curate at St Mary’s Parish Church in this town Her other brother is Mr Matthew Ledger who gave her away.
The ceremony was conducted by Rev C G Ledger and Rev E L Roxby, Rector of the Parish, and Rev C de Carteret, junior Curate.
The reception was held at the residence of the bride’s sister, 31 Clarence Square, after which they left for honeymoon.
(Provided by Brian Torode from information condensed from Gloucestershire Echo reports for July 27th 1935 and May 1st 1939)
In July 1935 Cheltenham Corporation purchased eleven acres of the Hatherley Court Estate in preparation for the provision of a ‘fine recreation ground of especial value to dwellers in the Tivoli district.’ The eleven acres was the minimum acreage that the agents were prepared to sell, and the Borough Council decided that they would allocate some of the land for housing, fronting what was to become Hatherley Court Road. The actual purchase price of the land was £2,750 to which was added an estimated £1,460 for road works, ground preparation and ornamental gates.
The site devoted to recreation was developed from a furrowed field and comprised nine of the eleven acres purchased. A pool was made from what had been a mere pond in the field, and the water that flowed down the falls, was automatically pumped back. The rock garden was constructed of Cumberland stone which had been stored for some years in the Corporation stores at Sandford. An avenue of trees bordered the main entrance path. Equipment or the children included swings, roundabouts, and a shelter with a pavilion in the central part. The whole project had taken eighteen months to complete.
The Hatherley Court Recreation Ground – its official name – was formally opened on Saturday April 29th 1939 by the Mayor of Cheltenham, Mr John Howell. The ceremony was performed in front of a large audience of invited guests, at the entrance to the pavilion.
In a short speech, the chairman of the Parks and Recreation Grounds Committee, Mr WJ Green, expressed his belief that “not many towns the size of Cheltenham can boast so many beautiful parks.”
The Mayor of Cheltenham, hoped that this new park would not be the last of Cheltenham’s 200 acres of parks and gardens. It was a daring experiment in that it included a recreation ground and playing field for children as well as a park beautifully laid out for adults. “It was,” he added, “up to parents to teach their children how to make the best advantage of it.”
He also warned that elderly people who might like to use the park for relaxation and rest, would be annoyed by the noise of the children. However the committee hoped that “after experience they might enjoy hearing the children’s voices.”
Tea was served in a marquee after a tour of the new grounds had been made.
Dollie was the daughter of Daniel Cox and was born at 6, Princes Terrace, Princes Road. Born Feb 6th 1914.
Moved when about 2 to 2 Dagmar Road, second house on left as you enter from Princes Road. Father was a gardener. Dollie’s sister married the great grandson of William Brown who carved the Caryatides in Montpellier, and lives in Welland Lodge Road.
Dollie attended St Stephen’s School in Albany Road, until moving to Christ Church School.
She used to walk to school behind a fanciable neighbour, also going to Christ Church, who lived at No 1 Dagmar – Ronald Greenslade. Dollie attended Sunday school at St Stephen’s. Remembers Rev Hodson very well.
In Princes Road, opposite the entrance to Dagmar lived Doris Roberts whose mum was the ticket seller and gate keeper to the Montpellier Gardens, working in the little kiosk there.
The second house down in Oakfield Street was the home of Mr Ottoburn, a Dentist.
Mr Painter was the landlord of the Royal Union.
Dollie played at the Woodlands on the Humpty Dumps, large grassed mounds left after the excavations for the railway line.
She has vivid memories of milk delivery by Frank the milkman – mum would go out with a jug and have the milk measured out.
Mrs Minchella with her ice cream cart was renowned for selling from door to door. She had a walnut wrinkled face.
The dustmen came right through the house to the back garden with wicker baskets on their shoulders to collect the rubbish.
Mr Tuck lived nearby – a tram driver.
At 3, Dagmar was Mr Bee with a tailor shop in his garden – really just a shed.
Dan Lewis of Tivoli Street (?)had a son who committed suicide by putting his head in the gas oven. ( Was this Dan the snail eater?)
Mrs Rutland’s shop was just on left in Tivoli Road as you entered from Princes. Sold sweets, groceries etc.
Shop on corner of Lypiatt sold groceries. There was a Bakehouse in Lypiatt Street
Dollie remembers Suffolk Hall as St Dunstan’s Home for blinded soldiers. They were taken out for fresh air ‘walks’ in wicker pram-type vehicles.
Crossways was surrounded by high brick wall all round.
Dollie left Tivoli in 1924 to move with her parents to Uckington.