Vicars and Church Activities

Incumbents of Tylers Green

LIST OF INCUMBENTS OF TYLERS GREEN CHURCH

WaIter Carmichael Gibbs, M.A.             1854
John Power, M.A.                                     1862
Edward Jackson Lowe, M.A.                   1868
William Henry Pengelly, M.A                 1874
Robert Franklin Ashley Spencer, M.A. 1883
Gerald Hayward, M.A.                            1918

Both Walter Carmichael Gibbs and Robert Franklin Ashley Spencer are buried in the Churchyard. The position of the Grave of the first Vicar is. now exactly under the Altar steps, although his Memorial Stone lies outside the east wall. The Rev. R. F. Ashley Spencer’s Grave is on the south side of the Porch.

(The above from Mrs Becher’s History)

J.K. Siderfin                1952
George W. Young     1967
Michael E. Hall          1981 – 2000
Michael Bisset          2003


Walter Carmichael Gibbs, (1854 – 1862)

Rev. Walter Gibbs, who was to be the first Vicar of Tyler’s Green, … was highly recommended to Philip Rose by a much admired clergyman friend and was described as “an unobtrusive gentlemanly man of Middle Age, of independent means and without a family, who is seeking an independent charge and is to a great extent indifferent to stipend … well known to the Archbishop of Canterbury and many of the best Anglican Clergy. His wife is said to have a gift for schools and visiting”. Rose took him to Penn to introduce him to Mr Knollis and to afford Lord and Lady Curzon the opportunity of hearing him preach and was immensely enthusiastic. He thought he was “admirably suited for the District and his accepting it may indeed be regarded as the most favourable feature in our whole arrangements”, although he did add on a more doubtful note, “he is Irish and perhaps a little too energetic in his style of preaching, but I think him very well”.

Walter Gibbs died in 1862 and is buried under the Altar steps, though his Memorial Stone lies outside the East wall.

Edited from: The History of St. Margaret’s Church Tyler’s green, Miles Green, 1984


Rev. John Power (1862 -1868)

“to crown our labour with success” – Shelf, Halifax, Apl 29 1851
Dear Sir, By the enclosed circular you will perceive that we are endeavouring to erect schools for the uneducated and poorer classes of society in Shelf. I don’t know that I pursue a more useful course for the benefit of the people and the property in the place, than to erect schools, where the children may receive a suitable education in connection with the Church Establishment in our land, and feel encouraged that you will excuse me for appealing to you for help under such circumstances. If the money for the building could be procured in the district I certainly should not think of appealing to the public at large. I endeavour to raise the endowment in accordance with the advice of my respected Diocesan, who has kindly offered £10 towards it. The Church of St Michael here is well attended and the number of scholars in the Sunday School remains the same as stated in the circular. I must it will still please… to crown our labour with success and in every plan wish believe me. Yours very faithfully John Power.

So wrote the Rev. John Power in 1851 to William Priestley of Tadcaster, when attempting to secure funds towards the construction of a school in Shelf, West Yorkshire. Born in Merevale Warwickshire in 1818 he consistently displayed the highest levels of charitable and philanthropic ideals not always so evident in the Victorian Clergy. After marriage in March 1853 in York to Elizabeth Harriet Graham he eventually ended his Yorkshire Living, and moved south to the Isle of Wight to become the Vicar of All Saints, Newchurch, he was also Chaplain to the Mission for Seamen. Back on the mainland he succeeded Walter Gibbs in 1862 to become just the second Vicar of St. Margaret’s Tylers Green, a post he held for six years. Having both a wife and daughter, not to mention a half-sister in his household, it was apparent that the existing accommodation for the Vicar, Yew Tree Cottage (now The Red House!) was too small, there was certainly no prospect in raising the funds from the inhabitants of the village, who Power described as “amongst the poorest of the poor” so Earl Howe and Philip Rose became the principal benefactors, the new Parsonage House being completed in 1865.

By October 1868 Power was on the move again, this time westwards to Exeter, where he was appointed Vicar of the Bedford Chapel, Bedford Square, he once again demonstrated his charitable principals, by introducing, despite some opposition “Penny Dinners for Poor Children”, he felt that even if only a penny was paid the recipients would not be regarded as paupers. The Chapel itself no longer exists having been destroyed by enemy action in May 1942.

After a brief spell at Dodbrooke Nr Kingsbridge he ended his days as Vicar to the parish of Altarnun on Bodmin Moor, he died on the 6th February 1887 aged 69 and is buried in the Churchyard at St.Nonna’s Altarnun.

Ronald Saunders, October 2018

Above is the only known possible photograph of John Power. It is of the wedding of Sir Philip Rose’s daughter Louisa in May 1868, it is known that John Power assisted at the wedding, (there were 2 other vicars officiating). If you look closely at the bottom left of the photo next to the man in the grey top hat you will see what appears to be a vicar. Unfortunately we cannot confirm this. This is the earliest picture in the Village archives.


Rev. Ashley Spencer’s Short Stay In Brazil

Dear VV. I came across the below from the Lancashire Evening Post, on Friday 27th March1908 (the story must have come from a press agency) and I thought it might be of interest.lt reads as follows:

‘Vicar’s Short Stay In Brazil’
A unique experience has fallen to the lot of the Rev. Robert Ashley Spencer, the vicar of Tyler’s Green, near High Wycombe. Early in February he undertook a voyage to Madeira for his health and having spent a few days there, he met a personal friend, and accompanied him on his steamer bound for Brazil. Absorbed in conversation, he found himself being carried on to Pernambuco, where safely arrived after an eight days voyage. On his arrival he at once despatched a cablegram to his wife, who, not knowing what had become of him had had an anxious time. Mr. Spencer only remained in South America for a couple of hours availing himself of a steamer that was returning to Madeira immediately. His momentary absent-mindedness involved him in a voyage of 6,000 miles.

Alan Birch, Village Voice 167, April 2015


The Last Journey of Robert Franklin Ashley Spencer

A TRANSCRIPTION FROM THE BUCKS HERALD 8th JUNE 1918

“We deeply regret to record the death of the Rev. R.F Ashley Spencer Vicar of Tylers Green. On Thursday May 30th he attended a meeting of the Ruri-Decanal Conference at Marlow, only arriving at Loudwater Station on his return at about 10pm.

He had no carriage to meet him, having arranged to walk home. He walked from the station along the private road to Rayners, and later half way home was taken ill with internal pains so severe that he felt it almost impossible to go any further and contemplated – it being a warm night – the possibility of having to remain until morning lying on the grass by the side of the road. However, remembering that his two dogs of which he was devotedly fond, called for attention, he managed with a great effort to struggle home. Mrs Spencer had been for some days taking a rest cure at a nursing home in Wycombe. Feeling very ill on his arrival at the Vicarage, Mr Spencer sent for the District Nurse, and a telephone message was sent to Dr L.W. Reynolds of High Wycombe, who came up at once. Dr Reynolds found him suffering from acute Peritonitis and sent his car in the morning to remove the patient to the same nursing home where his wife was staying, the District Nurse accompanying him. Dr Reynolds, desirous of a second opinion called in Dr Huggins, but the patient’s heart (which had long been affected) was in such a condition that both doctors agreed that an operation was out of the question, and the end came from heart failure just before 7 o clock the same Friday evening. Mr Spencer retained his consciousness until very near the end and was able to give a message to his wife, and even to choose the hymns for his funeral.

The late Rev. Robert Franklin Ashley Spencer who was born in County Wicklow Ireland was the son of a well-known London clergyman. He was presented to the living of St Margaret’s Tylers Green, by the Late Earl Howe in the year 1883 on the retirement of the late Rev. W H Pengelley. Mr Spencer’s father was a Clergyman of the old evangelical school, and the son a moderate high church man. Mr Spencer at the time of his death, had held the living for nearly 35 years. He was a very earnest and popular clergyman, and also found time to give valuable service in public affairs in the District and County. He was a member of the County Council of the Board of Guardians and rural district council which he joined in 1886 and the Chepping Wycombe Parish Council.
He had occupied the Chair of each Body, and also been Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Guardians and of the rural district sanitary committee.He was a member of Wycombe Joint Burial Board. Chairman of Wycombe Rural Food Control Committee and a Trustee and Member of the Committee of the South Bucks Friendly Society. His services in connection with these public bodies are well known to all of the residents in the district. Deceased was a Conservative and Secretary of the Tylers Green and Penn branch of the South Bucks Conservative and Unionist Association, being a constant attendant at its meetings. At an early date in the War he applied for a Naval Chaplaincy and served for many months in one of the hospital ships of the Grand Fleet in the North Sea.”

His grave is in the south-east corner of the Churchyard in a position chosen by himself during his lifetime.

Ronald Saunders, St Margaret’s and Holy Trinity Penn Parish Newsletter, August 2018


St Margaret’s Choir Circa 1925

For some while it has been a matter of concern, that there existed little in the way of a pictorial archive for St. Margaret’s, so the Revd. Mike Bisset was delighted to receive in November last year, the photo below, together with the names, from a Julia Pennbridge who resides in California. She came across it in her loft.

The picture dates from the early to mid-1920s and was taken outside the porch, which had no external doors, these not being fitted until 1935. Dominating the picture is the earnest looking Revd Gerald Hayward. He had been Vicar since the death of his predecessor, the Revd Ashley Spencer, in 1918 and was to be only the second incumbent in nearly 70 years. He wears two medals, from when he was a wartime chaplain, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

Back Row (L to R) Reg Adlum (Verger), Jack Winter, Fred Hawes, Burt Wimble, John Gulliver, Robert Barnes, Jack Gravestock, Tom Burrows (Bell Ringer).
Middle Row (L to R) Gladys Small (Organist), Charlie Small, Harry Holmes, ? Tiffin,
Gerald Hayward (Vicar), Burt Rigwell, Arthur Lacey, Chris Long, Miss Rignell.

Front Row (L to R) Cyril Chivers, Fred Bacheur, Norman Wright, John Galsworthy,
Keith Barnes, Eric Gravestock, Jack Chivers, Maurice Gravestock.

With nearly 30 people pictured space only permits a small potted history of some of the people present. On the left in the middle row are married couple, Gladys & Charlie Small who had married in 1925, (this helps to date the photograph). Charlie who had been born in Aylesbury and later lived in “Woodside”, Tylers Green had served in the Great War with The Northamptonshire Regt. Gladys had been organist since 1918.

The two Chivers bothers Cyril and Eustace “Jack” were the sons of William and Rose Chivers from Beacon Hill. Cyril died in 1989 and Eustace J in 1957 whilst they were living at “Old Orchard” West Avenue. Another set of brothers shown are Robert and Keith Barnes, the sons of William and Janet Barnes. Young Chris Long, in the 2nd row, was the nephew of Ernest Long who was killed just two weeks before the Armistice in 1918.

Next to him is Arthur Lacey, son of the Tylers Green chimney sweep. Some of the names have not travelled well, for example in the middle row sits Lambert Rignall (not Burt Rigwell) from Hazlemere Road and at the end of the line sits his older sister, Sarah Elizabeth Rignall.

Harry Holmes resided at “Sunnyside”, Kingswood Road which he shared for a while with his in-laws William and Alice Tiffin.

Returning to the back row we find Albert Whimble from Richmond Surrey, he lodged for a time with Miss Oakley at Laurel Cottage, before seeing service in the Royal Flying Corps in WW1. Perhaps the best known is Tom (not Bill) Burrows extreme right back row. Tom was blind, but this did not stop him from tending the oil-lamp at St. Margaret’s as well as ringing the bells. He also weaved wicker baskets from his workshop in Beacon Hill. Three Gravestock boys are also pictured, Jack and Maurice were the sons of Albert & Zillah and Eric, probably their cousin, the son of Horace and Emily. Standing next to the Verger, Jack Winter is the son of John Winter, the bailiff at Gomms Farm.

So we are left with Fred Hawes, John Gulliver, Fred Bacheur, who may be the son of Col. Arthur W Bercher who lived in Hammersley Lane in the 1920’s, Norman Wright and John Galsworthy. There was a Galsworthy family in the village at the time but not with a son John. The nearest I could get was Lewis Thomas Galsworthy who died in 1943 in Burma in a Japanese POW camp. His name now appears on the War memorial.

And finally, the Verger, Reg Adlum. The Parish Office does not hold a record of past
Vergers so if anybody can identify Mr Adlum, please let me know.

Ron Saunders , March 2018


The Graduation of the Reverend Gerald Hayward B.A. M.A.

This highly evocative and delightfully informal photograph, taken in the summer of 1913, shows the soon to be Vicar of St. Margaret’s Tylers Green, Gerald Hayward, outside Christ College Cambridge following presentation of his B.A. On his right are his proud parents, William Dunning Hayward and Mary Louise Blackwell Hayward (nee Hansell). His father was from Dorchester, whilst his mother came from North Shields in Northumberland, on his left stands his younger sister Gladys Mary Hayward, at this time the family home was in Broadstairs Kent. He married in May 1917 Dorothy Ellen Phillips who also came from the Kent town. There were no children.

He was born in May 1891 in Croydon, where his father ran a printing and publishing business and after a successful academic career, which also saw him obtain an M.A. in 1917, he became Curate at Christ Church Croydon, before holding the living at Christ Church Chelsea from 1915 until 1918. He saw service in the Great War as a Senior Chaplain to the Forces and in August 1918 was presented by Earl Howe with the living of St. Margaret’s, his annual income however was less than £300.

So began his 33 year tenure as the 6th Vicar of Tylers Green, during which time he saw to the spiritual needs of many of the local inhabitants, however he was just a spectator in 1919 at what must have been the largest funeral then seen at St.Margarets, following the death of the second Sir Philip Rose, by this time Sir Philip had converted to Catholicism and his funeral took the form of a Requiem Mass held in the chapel at Rayners followed by internment in the family vault at St. Margaret’s, Priests from local Catholic churches including St Augustine’s on Amersham Hill presided at the service. It appears that not all his services took place in Tylers Green, as in 1929 he attended the funeral of the 4th Earl Howe in Holy Trinity Penn Street and in 1932 he played a part together with the then Vicar of Holy Trinity Penn, the Rev E Smith, in the funeral service of Sir Donald MacLean. However, one of his more intriguing marriage services was when he officiated at the wedding of one Edgar Whyte better known as “Eddie Steele” when he married in St Marys Appledram Kent in 1939. The Southern Area Heavyweight Boxing Champion had fought Tommy Farr among others.

The fabric of the Church continued to change during Gerald Hayward’s incumbency, new vestries were installed in 1922, an extension to the Chancel and a new east window in 1932, the pews were cleaned in 1934 and the oak doors were added in 1935.

He died suddenly at his home in Tylers Green on Sunday 12th August 1951 aged just 60. He had conducted the morning services at St Margaret’s, but complained of feeling unwell during the afternoon and died a few hours later. After a Memorial Service at St Margaret’s on Wednesday 15th August a cremation took place at Woking Surrey. He was survived by his widow Dorothy who died in Penn in 1973.

Ronald Saunders, St Margaret’s and Holy Trinity Penn Parish Newsletter, June  2018


Rev. Michael E. Hall M.A. (1981 – 2000)

Tylers Green will be without a regular vicar for some time following the retirement of the vicar of St Margaret’s, the Rev Michael Hall, in April. A spokesman for the Wycombe Deanery said retirements and departures were due in a number of Wycombe area churches, as well as neighbouring parishes, in the next couple of years so the church would use the opportunity to review the overall position and listen to the views of parishioners.

An interregnum – an interval between the departure of one person and the arrival of another – is usual in the church once a vicar leaves a parish. The Deanery spokesman said that over the years the make-up of parishes in and around the Wycombe area had changed and populations had shifted. Some churches were now busier than others so the time seemed right to review the general position.

Both the Rev Nigel Stowe, the vicar of Penn Street and Holmer Green; and the Rev Carol Williams, the vicar of Penn (both areas are not in the Wycombe Deanery) are due to leave in about two years due to retirement and end of contract respectively. If any changes to personnel or church boundaries are to be considered it could therefore be a number of years before the Bishop of Oxford makes a final decision.

In the meantime a locum is likely to oversee church affairs at St Margaret’s following the Rev Hall’s retirement to Cornwall with his wife Joyce. He had been vicar at St Margaret’s for nearly 20 years and during his tenure he oversaw the extension and modernisation of the Parish Rooms.

Never one to shirk controversy, he and his parochial church council fought strong campaigns against the ordination of women and the liberalisation of homosexuality issues. In 1996 St Margaret’s applied for oversight by a “flying” bishop because of its opposition to women priests; and in 1998 the Rev Hall and the PCC told the Archbishop of Canterbury that St Margaret’s no longer accepted the authority of the Bishop of Oxford as its diocesan bishop because of the bishop’s “liberal statements”. St Margaret’s has refused to pay its quota payments – the amount a parish pays to the diocese to cover costs such as salaries and administration – for a number of years. There have also been legal battles highlighted in the national press and some lively exchanges with village organisations, including Chepping Wycombe Parish Council and the Residents’ Association. The congregation has also raised many hundreds of pounds for various overseas missions during the Rev Hall’s tenure .

Village Voice 78, April/May 2000