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Mrs Gladstone and Saint Matthew's Church Ladies"

Saint Matthew's Parish Church, Church Road, Buckley



SEE 28.301 for contents etc.




"DON'T TAKE THE VICAR SERIOUSLY, then you will get on with him." Such was the advice given to a raw young lay-reader when he came to St Matthew's Church in 1894.


The vicar in question was the Rev. William Dampier, who was vicar of Buckley from 1885 to 1897.


Little seems to be remembered of the activities of this gentleman, perhaps because his illustrious successor, Harry Drew, attracted such outstanding attention. Nevertheless, William Dampier must have been a hard-working, enterprising and commanding personality.


During his stay in Buckley, which had become an independent parish only eleven years earlier, he was instrumental in the opening of two mission churches, one at Ewloe and the other at Pentre.


AN INTERESTING DESCRIPTION of the vicar, and of the activities of the church, is to be found in an article by the Rev. O. M. Stent in the Church Times. He commenced as a Lay Reader at Buckley from 1894 to 1897, and in his article recalled his arrival there.


"I saw an advertisement", he wrote. "'Junior Lay Reader, wanted immediately - Vicar, St. Matthew's, Buckley.' I answered it , and within a week got a wire: 'Come at once. Expenses paid. Dampier.'


"And so I left for the parish of Buckley with little idea of where I was going or what work would be expected of me.


"I left Salisbury by an early train on June 23rd, 1894 (a Saturday), and made my way to my destination via Bristol and the Severn Tunnel, changed at Wrexham and arrived at Buckley Town about 5 o'clock.


"I was met by William Swinnerton, the senior Lay Reader, who was a clergyman's son, as I was, and about ten years older than myself. On the way to the vicarage he gave me a piece of advice 'Don't take the vicar seriously and then you will get on with him'.


"We went into the church and knelt together in prayer, and then we passed over to the vicarage. Mr Dampier was standing at the front door.


"HOW SHALL I DESCRIBE HIM? A short, well-built, thick man of anything between fifty and sixty years of age, with a heavy moustache.


"He was wearing a golf cap, Norfolk jacket, plus fours, stockings and walking shoes. Tanned in appearance, and no wonder, for before his ordination he had worked in Northern Rhodesia. He was blunt in manner and unconventional in speech.

"'Well, here you are, old man. Good luck to you'."


"He was very much unlike anyone I had met before. Soon we were sitting down to tea, with his sister. She was a person more or less his own age, who kept house for him, for he was a bachelor.


"Swinnerton also lived at the vicarage, and appeared to be on easy terms with him.


"After tea we made our way to the study, but though we had a general chat not a word was said about my duties the following day.


"SOON MISS DAMPIER noticed that I was tired and asked me if I would like to go to my room, and Swinnerton accompanied me. He told me that I would have to take the services at Ewloe Green the following day (a mission that had only been built a week or two.) The services were:

1.Children's service at 10.30 a.m.

2.Return to St Matthew's and serve the vicar at midday celebration.

3.Take the Sunday School at 2.30 p.m. Go anywhere I was invited to for tea.

4.Take full evensong at 6.30 p.m.


"He also said that he was serving the vicar at 8 a.m., but if I was tired I would be excused from attending it.


"After he left me I scribbled out a few notes for my addresses and then went to bed.


"It was a little bewildering not to have been advised by the vicar as to what to do, but I do not think I was worried."


(Obtained from a scrapbook kindly lent to me by Mr Michael Rogers of Rose Lane, Mynydd Isa. J.B.)



Author: Bentley, James


Year = 1895

Building = Religious

Gender = Mixed

People = Group

Extra = Formal Portrait

Extra = Pre 1900

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