Turn of the Century

Mr. Charles Dixon made notes of the main events end changes to Maidwell Parish Church as recorded in the Registers from 1891 to 1916, and thereafter from his own memories. His notes are frequently flavoured by his not wholly sympathetic views towards ‘those in authority over us’, notably the Lord of the Manor. We include some of his comments, not just for the sake of local colour, but as a genuine insight into the two sides of an apparently benevolent squirearchy.

1891. The Rev. F. Davenport became Rector and was instituted on September 15th. During the same year the new chancel was built, the sum of £2000 having been donated for this purpose by the Lord of the Manor, Sir Reginald Loder.  The re-opening took place on November 17th at a service conducted by the Bishop of Peterborough and the choir wore surplices for what was thought to be the first time in the history of the Parish.

This all sounds like good straightforward Victorian restoration by a generous patron.  But now hear Mr. Dixon: “The Churchyard was thrown into a state of disorder.  Gravestones were taken down … without a faculty … the Bishop knew nothing about it until the building was ready for consecration … The Church was robbed of a Beautiful Oil Painting the old inhabitants state this was e great masterpiece but it was never heard of again”.  (Kelly’s Directory of 1888 mentioned an oil painting of The Nativity by Rubens brought from Rome by a former Rector of the Parish, John Adams M.A., who was Rector from 1759 to 1778).  Mr. Dixon continues:  “The Lead off the Roof and the beautiful Oak Gallery and Panelling entirely disappeared … so one must come to the conclusion that the donor was amply repaid”.

Whether these comments are justified or simply scurrilous, it may be worth remembering that the sum of £2000 in 1891 was very nearly a lifetime’s earnings for a farm labourer – multiply by 100 and we would have some approximation to today’s equivalent value (1985).

1893.  Sir R. B. Loder gave the brass lectern in memory of Captain ‘Bay’ Middleton, who was killed steeplechasing and buried at his home village of Haselbech.

1895.  On February 16th, Maidwell Hall was completely destroyed by fire (this will have to be written up in a future issue – Ed.).  To commemorate the event, Sir Reginald Loder presented the stained glass windows in the south aisle.  Later the same year, Sir
Reginald had cause for happier commemoration, for on July 25th he married Lady
Margaret Hare, daughter of the Earl of Listowel, which resulted in the Church gaining a new bell and a new east window.

1899.  The Rev. Davenport moved to St. Martin’s Stamford.

1900.  The Rev. Warren Hastings was appointed to the living, from Sarsden-cum-Churchill in Oxfordshire. He was welcomed by a peel of bells on his arrival on April 5th and the induction service was conducted by the Bishop of Leicester on April 28th.

1902.  A service to celebrate the end of the Boer War was held on June 15th.

1905.  The Rev. Hastings moved to Hertfordshire.

1906.  The Rev. E. R. Prance was appointed to the living, from Portsmouth Parish Church. In the same year the organ had some extra stops added, and was used for the first time in its new form on September 16th.

1909.  At a choir practice one of the lamps was accidentally upset and set fire to the left clergy stall. This was put out by Mr. C. Dunmore and a great fire was narrowly averted.

1910.  The heating apparatus was put in the church on August 15th and used for the first time in October. The coke house was also built at the same time, on the site of the former village pound, paid for by parish subscriptions.

1911.  Sir R. B. Loder presented a silver challenge cup for choirs from villages of not more than 500 inhabitants, to be competed for in Northampton Town Hall.  Maidwell won. They won again the following year. What a coincidence.

1914.  The Rev. Prance left Maidwell. His successor, the Rev. J.W.Hayes, was not appointed until 1916, the year in which Maidwell and Draughton were joined together as one Parish. Also in 1916, the Register from which C.W.Dixon took all the information so far, in his words “fell into the hands of R.B.Loder who … had no right whatsoever to even handle the book let alone disfigure it with his great scrawl, but in this as in everything ‘Might was right’ “. The rest of these notes are C.W.Dixon’s own.

1916.  On May 20th John Iliffe put the church clock forward one hour for the first time – British Summer Time had been instituted. (Note the very late date compared with modern practice – Ed.)

1917.  Dr. Woods, Bishop of Peterborough, came on “his memorable tour”.

.  The Rev. Rathbone Griffin was inducted to Maidwell and Draughton on October 20th.

1928.  The Rev. Lubin Creasy was inducted to Maidwell and Draughton on November 17th.

1933.  Two major events took place in the church – it was lit for the first time by electricity on October 29th, and the bells were rehung in roller bearings and a new screen dedicated on November 1st.  Such work would have cost money, and Sir R. B.
Loder had died two years earlier, but there is no record of a specific bequest to the church. He had left money for the building of the village hall, now known as the Loder Hall and also opened in 1933.  Mr. Dixon, unsurprisingly, records the opening of the hall but neither its name nor its donor.