Barwick holds a 'Conversatione' Back to the Main Historical Society page
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Barwick holds a 'Conversatione'

from The Barwicker No. 85
Mar. 2007

This article is taken from the Barwick parish magazine of April 1905. It described a farewell party for Rev. Bathurst George Wilkinson (see 'The Barwicker' No.43), who had just completed a three months' stay in Barwick as a stand-in for the rector, Rev. FS Colman who was convalescing in Italy (see No. 40). The article demonstrates that a century ago, Barwick could organise a large scale celebration with highly commendable generosity and excellent musical entertainment.

"It was a very happy thought indeed which suggested that we should have a Conversazione for the purpose of meeting Mr and Mrs Wilkinson just prior to their departure to Switzerland, after being with us for three months, and also at the same time offer them some tangible mark of our appreciation of their labour and service amongst us. The preliminary meeting held on March 8th. was well attended, and a strong committee was elected to make all arrangements. As Sunday, March 19th. was to be Mr Wilkinson's last Sunday with us, the Conversazione was held on the previous evening, Saturday the 18th. The appearance of the Schoolroom was very pleasing indeed. Bunting was hung across the room; plants which had been kindly lent by several people, stood on small tables and in odd corners, and the large gathering of 120 to 130 which filled the room, showed how fully all agreed with the aim and object of the proceedings.

Chief interest, of course, centred in the presentations, which were made during the evening. A gentleman's dressing case had been obtained for Mr Wilkinson - he having been previously consulted on the matter - while an anonymous friend had very kindly sent a beautiful silver mounted handkerchief bag to be given to Mrs Wilkinson. Both presents were on view during the evening, and were very much admired.

Mr Sowrey, who as Rector's Warden, took the Chair, in asking Sir Theo. and Lady Peel to make the presentations, said that while we all regretted the circumstances which brought Mr Wilkinson to the parish three months ago, namely the serious illness of our Rector, yet it was felt that the parish owed him a very deep debt and obligation, for coming to them at such a time, and thus giving the Rector the opportunity to get away to Italy for a lengthened stay, which the doctors advised was absolutely necessary for his permanent recovery to health. That morning he had received a letter from Italy in which Mr Colman asked him to thank Mr Wilkinson publicly at that gathering for coming to Barwick at the time he did and thus rendering to him a distinct personal service. Sir Theo. Peel in making the presentation to Mr Wilkinson also spoke of the services which both Mr and Mrs Wilkinson had rendered in Barwick during their stay.

With regard to the present, he laid stress on the fact that it had been obtained by the small contributions of many and not by large subscriptions of the few. Over 100 people of all classes had come forward with their subscriptions, the amount of which had been limited by the committee to a very small sum. Lady Peel, in handing the Handkerchief Bag to Mrs Wilkinson also added a few words.

In replying for himself and his wife Mr Wilkinson wished first of all to thank everybody who had in any way helped him in his feeble efforts to carry on the work of the parish during his short stay among them. To the Churchwardens for their kindly assistance in many of the details of the work of the Church, to the Organist, and to the members of the Choir, for the efficient and reverent rendering of the services of the Church, and to Mr Jessop for the great help he had rendered in arranging for the services at Scholes, he wished specially to express his thanks. As regards the handsome present he did not wish for one, yet he would treasure it highly nevertheless.

He recalled the fact that the last present he ever received was from the people of Barwick who, twenty years ago, on the occasion of his marriage, sent him a wedding present to Canada. He could promise them that his second present would be appreciated to the same high degree as was the first. In taking this opportunity of saying Goodbye to them all he would like to urge upon all to take some definite part in the religious work of the parish. It was a mistaken idea to think that the Church consisted of the clergy only. The Laity also were as much part of the Church as the Clergy, and if the Laity did not take their part and share in the work, then indeed the work of the clergyman must necessarily suffer.

Speaking subsequently Mr Tankard alluded to the good work Mr Wilkinson had done in the parish, saying that he had followed exactly in the footsteps of his father, who, during his lifetime and residence at Potterton, endeared himself to everyone in the district, down to the very humblest.

With regard to the social part of the evening nothing but praise can be said. Where everybody did their best, and that quite willingly, it would be a pity to particularize. Suffice it to say that the instrumental pieces (pianoforte duet, violin solos, English concertina solo and the trio for violin. 'cello and piano) the songs sung by the ladies and the two choir boys, the glees submitted by the adult members of the Choir, and the recitation "The Jackdaw of Rheims" were all very creditably rendered and were each and all received with marked satisfaction and approval.

Nor must we forget to mention the good ladies of the village who provided the refreshments. They responded liberally to the calls made upon them, and the good things provided were appreciated to the full during the interval. At the conclusion all joined heartily in singing Auld Lang Syne, followed by the National Anthem."

(From the Parish magazine April 1905. Author unknown)

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