Rev. Herbert Lovell Clarke - Rector of Barwick. Back to the Main Historical Society page

Rev. Herbert Lovell Clarke - Rector of Barwick.

from Barwicker No. 72
Dec. 2003


In 'The Barwicker No.57 we recorded that Rev. Harvey was succeeded in 1933 as rector of Barwick by Rev. Herbert Lovell Clarke. The latter was a scholar of St John's College, Cambridge, and graduated BA (1st. Class Honours Classics Tripos) in 1904 and MA in 1908. He became a deacon in 1905 and was ordained priest in 1906, while serving as a curate at Lady Margaret Church (St John's College Mission) in Walworth, London, from 1905 to 1907. He was curate at Wimbledon from 1907 to 1912 and vicar of All Saints, Nottingham, from 1912 to 1923. During the 1st World War he was a chaplain to women's forces and to the 9th. Sherwood Foresters Volunteer Battalion. Later he enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters and was commissioned. He was vicar of St Bartholemew, Armley, from 1923 to 1933 and chaplain to the prison there from 1923 to 1924.

On 12 June, 1933, he was instituted and inducted to the benefice of Barwick-in-Elmet, which had an annual gross income of 1639 at the time and a net income of 1000 - a wealthy parish. The population of the parish at that time was 1911. His appointment seems to have heralded a break from the Anglo-Catholic practices of Rev. Harvey. Immediately, he made some changes in the kind of worship at All Saints and promised to wear a surplice at all services, which would in future show 'plainness'.

He was a man who was clearly interested in the history of the parish and he contributed to the Rector's logbook begun by Rev. Bathurst, unlike his immediate predecessor. In July 1935 he revived the parish magazine 'after a lapse of many years'. In the first three editions he made a summary of the major events that had occurred in the parish since his appointment (see 'The Barwicker ' No. 50). The set of the magazines (sadly incomplete) that he published when he was incumbent here has yielded much information since recorded in 'The Barwicker'. During the early years of the magazine he included extracts of historical interest from the writings of Revs. Bathurst and Colman in the Rector's Log.

During his early years at Barwick he presided over some administrative 'tidying-up' when new contracts for the sexton, verger and organist at All Saints were drawn up. A Barwick and Scholes constitutional committee drew up a new constitution covering both churches. A set of rules concerning the leaving of bicycles in the church porch during services was agreed. Under his leadership, church activities were supplemented by the creation of several new organisations. In late 1933 a women's weekly meeting and children's weekly social hour were started at Barwick. In May 1934 the Barwick branch of the Mothers' Union was formed. In January 1935 Barwick Men's Fellowship was begun, followed later in the year by the Scholes Men's Fellowship.

In his time here the Sunday schools of Barwick and Scholes flourished. Another of his introductions was the annual united outdoor service for Anglicans and Methodists. The Barwick garden fete in the rectory garden was an always enjoyable and well-attended event. His popularity with his previous parish was illustrated when in 1933 over 1000 inhabitants of Armley visited Barwick more than doubling the population of the village that day.

Something of his enthusiasm and his organising skill in promoting the social life of the parish, as well as his ability to write in an interesting way, is shown in an article he wrote in the Parish Magazine of September 1935 concerning a garden fete that was almost ruined by wet weather.

"We made a great preparation. The following Committees were formed :- Publicity, Treasurer's and Gate, Side-shows, Refreshments, Properties and Furniture, Entertainments. We appointed three organising secretaries and a minuting secretary. We secured the following stalls :- Work, Sweet and Pound, Flowers, Country Produce, Ice cream and Minerals. Jimmy Mack and his band most generously gave without charge their services for dancing in the evening. An anonymous donor hired loud speakers and a microphone from the Garforth Radio Services, Ltd.; Mr Carr of Wharf Street, Leeds, gave us the free loan of two marquees, Mr Lillywhite of Park Lane, Leeds, fitted up the marquees with electric light without charge for the evening; the Barwick Players rehearsed with great keenness for many days before; the whole of the parish was canvassed by the ticket sellers; Mr Stone lent his donkey; willing workers were busy during the week erecting the side-shows and marquees and setting up all the necessary apparatus; it was set fair for weeks before; everyone said we were going to have a record Fete.
And then, in the middle of the previous night, the rain came. Under the circumstances we were fortunate to come off as well as we did. Till about six o' clock the weather was reasonably clear. There was a very good attendance; the side-shows went with a swing; the reports from all departments were to the effect that all was going exceedingly well; the Barwick Players Sunbeams were half way through their excellent entertainment.
Then came the rain. It meant that about half past six the receipts ceased. We made the best of it. We crowded into the Day School. There was dancing from 7.45 to 11.0. with an interval delightfully filled by a show of the Barwick Players. It was a great day, but the weather lost us probably 10 to 20. However this was counter-balanced by generous donations. Lady Lawson-Tancred, unable after all to come, sent 2. Mrs Fulford who acted as opener in place of Lady Lawson-Tancred, gave 1. Mrs Towers 1.1s.0d, Miss Wilkinson 1, Mr JP Sowry 2. The Side-show Committee opened again their department on the following Monday.
We welcomed the presence of old friends; also of several neighbouring clergy and about twenty people from Armley (the rector's previous parish Ed.) We were enthusiastic in our preparation, and we were well supported. It was only the break in the weather which prevented us from doing extremely well. We must not forget Mrs Siberry of Main Street, Garforth, who gave her services without charge as a fortune teller. Under the circumstances the final result was not unsatisfactory. The nett proceeds amounted to 49.4s.1d."

Sometimes the Rev. Lovell Clarke's zeal for improvement landed him in trouble as when, in 1935 as chairman of the Parochial Parish Council, he eagerly authorised plans for the introduction of an electricity supply to the village school only to be reminded that this was the preserve of the School Board of Managers (of which he was also chairman). He seems to have been something of an entertainer and at a church dedication tea in 1935 (a function he inaugurated) he recited a 'topical song' which he had written and which we reproduced in No. 27. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Barwick maypole.

William Prince, who spent his youth in Barwick in the 1930s "found him a likeable chap who must have come as a refreshing change to his parishioners. He used to have a drink in the Gascoigne Arms, which would not endear him to some Nonconformists and on at least one occasion he preached a sermon in the Methodist chapel (clearly a much less frequent occurrence than now - Ed). Discovering that I was an avid reader the rector offered to lend me books from his collection and from him I borrowed the works of Mikhail Sholokov and, for the first time, read 'And Quiet Flows the Don' ".

Raymond Collett was another who experienced the kindness and concern of the rector. Writing in 1966, he says : "During the winter of 1934/5 (when aged about 13)) I became very ill and was poorly for some weeks but it was then that I found that people in church really cared for me. I had a good friend in the rector and he did restore me back to fitness as good as any man could do. He came to my home and told me that I was to go into a Church of England convalescent home at Blackpool for a fortnight to recuperate after my illness, at which I was very thrilled. When I came out of the home I was full of life."

The rector's wife, Phyllis, was active on many ways in the parish including as enrolling member of the Mother's Union and Sunday school teacher. They had a daughter and five sons. In April 1936, he records in the parish magazine that at special meeting of the PCC he was presented with a beautiful silver vase as a gift from the parishioners for their silver wedding. He recalls that they were married in a village church in Hertfordshire and the village girls spread primroses in their path as they came out of church. "It is a delight to us, twenty five years later, to be living our life, which is as happy and as busy as ever, in this village and among you all."

In 1938 he was appointed rural dean of Whitkirk, a post he held until 1944 by which time he had left Barwick. The parish magazine of the period gives little indication in the summer of 1939 of the approach of World War II but his family was involved in another violent affair, as he records while on holiday on 16 August 1939 and which is reproduced in the September edition. His third son was seriously injured by an IRA bomb explosion at Kings Cross. He was able to give reassuring news.
"He will bear no permanent facial disfigurement. He is now able to walk with two sticks. He was within a few feet of the bomb and was apparently blown some distance. The Edinburgh man who was killed was at his side: he died of his wounds, both his legs having been blown off. Our son was protected, except for his face and legs, by the counter of the luggage office. We are thankful that he escaped without permanent injury. A multitude of wounds on his legs and his face, a broken tooth, a broken finger and damaged knee and general shock - this was the extent of his injuries. We have him here (Castlemartin near Pembroke) and the sunshine and sea air are doing him much good."

After war was declared in September 1939, Rev Lovell Clarke wrote an article for the October parish magazine. It was entitled 'Pagan and Christian Peace'. It is calm and thoughtful; with no sign of war-induced hysteria or jingoism. It reflects his deep interest in history. He remembers the Boer War when many people were doubtful of the wisdom of the conflict. There was more justification in his view for the Great War but the peace that was won was 'pagan' to a considerable degree.

He says that this time, we want a secure and just peace, a Christian peace . "We desire, as soon as may be after victory, to resume friendly relations with all nations, including Germany. May God help us to continue so to wish. A church that seeks an eventual sure and just peace of goodwill will be a church whose spiritual leadership will be respected. To such an end - victory, followed by a Christian peace - we dedicate ourselves."

The war brought him and his wife more personal concerns. All five of their sons were of military age and served in the forces during these years. His letters to his parishioners in the parish magazine dwell little on the wider aspects of the war but often relate to church activities which continued with little apparent change during those difficult times. In a note about the remembrance service he again reveals his concern for history by drawing on his memories of the time.

In 1940, in addition to his offices of rector of Barwick and rural dean of Whitkirk, he was appointed archdeacon of Leeds, a post he held until 1950 and afterwards as archdeacon emeritus. In his time here he was served by four curates at Scholes - Revs. W Heath, EV Cave, H Cann and TW Metcalfe.

He resigned from the rectory here on 15 October, 1942 to continue in his other two posts. An article in the parish magazine written by an unknown parishioner reflects the esteem with which he was held at this time.
"It was with profound regret that we learned of the impending resignation of the Rector after an association extending over a period of nine years, during which we have grown to know and love him as a man of infinite charm and deep understanding.
He came to Barwick at a time when he was already feeling the strain of an active ministry at St Bartholomew's, Armley, but nevertheless he immediately threw himself wholeheartedly into the work of the Parish and it became evident that not only was he a man of varied interests but also of great enterprise and industry. It was inevitable, of course, that sooner or later his wide experience and great attainments would be recognised, as they were, first by his appointment as Rural Dean of Whitkitk and more latterly by his richly deserved appointment as Archdeacon of Leeds. These additional appointments have of necessity meant that he has had to spend a great deal of time outside the Parish, where he is probably equally well known and respected as in the Parish itself.
As is to be expected, the war added greatly to his already heavy burden and brought anxieties, unknown to many, but despite this he has always succeeded in preserving that spirit of unfailing optimism and cheerfulness which has been such an inspiration to all who have come into contact with him. He and Mrs Lovell Clarke leave the Parish with our best wishes for their future welfare, and we trust that the change in environment will bring about the much-desired improvement in Mrs Lovell Clarke's state of health."

In his last letter to his parishioners he expressed his pleasure that his replacement, Canon James Gray, rector of Castleford, (see 'The Barwicker' Nos. 24 and 26) would not have to divide his time between several posts, as he had to do during the second part of his ministry here. In 1944, two years after his departure from Barwick, he resigned from his post of rural dean of Whitkirk and was appointed vicar of Horsforth, continuing until 1951. In 1946 his wife died and in 1950 he married Mlle. Marguerite Guigou, formerly of Lausanne, Switzerland. He retired to Cricklade, in Wiltshire where he served as an additional minister. He died in hospital in Swindon aged 80.


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