Extract from the "Memoir of the Reverend Octavius Pickard-Cambridge"

[From: Arthur Wallace Pickard-Cambridge, Memoir of the Reverend Octavius Pickard-Cambridge, Oxford, 1918, pp. 35-52]

[p. 35] My eldest brother, Robert Jocelyn, was born on May 10, 1867. In the following January my grandfather died, to my father's great grief; year after year the sad anniversary is noted in his diary. In April of the same year (1868) my father was instituted to the benefice of Winterbourne Tomson, in June to that of Bloxworth, and on August 6 the move was made from the 'Cottage' to the Rectory.

The spring of 1869 brought a great sorrow in the death on May 1 of an infant son, John Trenchard, nine days after his birth. During all this year my father was busily engaged upon plans for the rebuilding of the chancel of Bloxworth Church, as a memorial to his father, and on September 2 the foundation stone of the new chancel was laid. The work was completed in the next year, 1870, and the service of reopening took place on July 7. The following account of the chancel and of the ceremony is taken from the Dorset County Chronicle of July 21:


'THE PARISH CHURCH. - Pressure of news crowded from our columns last week a notice of the good work accomplished in this charming village the opening of a new chancel for the parish church, constructed at the expense of the Rev. O. Pickard-Cambridge as a memorial to his beloved father, who was for a considerable [p. 36] period the rector of the parish. St. Andrew - for that is the name of the parish church - is a neat and ancient structure, and has undergone many alterations and improvements in the course of its history. At one time it was little beyond a plain, whitewashed building, destitute of all architectural ornament, but now - thanks to the present rector - we have an entirely remodelled and adorned edifice. The county surveyor, Mr. George Evans, of Wimborne, contributed his services gratuitously in the restoration, and Mr. A. H. Green, of Blandford, was the contractor, the work being carried on under the personal superintendence of the rector. In this work the features of the old building have been preserved. The visitor will still see the ancient window at the north side of the sacrarium, while that at the opposite side has been copied from the original. The old window behind the prayer-desk has likewise been preserved, and the traceried east window may be said to be an improved copy of the old one. The chancel was formerly in the Early Decorated style of mediaeval architecture, and its restoration has been completed in a most substantial and creditable manner. Flint and stone work form the exterior of the walls, which correspond admirably with the rest of the building . The windows and the doorway have been constructed with Doulting stone, and there are carved heads from which labels spring. Figures of St. Andrew and St. Peter stand in niches at the eastern end. Corsham Down stone has been used in [p. 37] the lining of the interior portion of the walls. The open-timbered roof has a pretty effect. From the carved stone corbels spring carved ribs, and ribs divide the ceiling into panels. There are carved bosses at the intersections, those over the sacrarium being coloured and enriched also by gilding, the cornice at the spring of the roof being completed by a quatrefoil ornament. It is intended to gild and colour the remaining bosses and spandril carvings. Dividing the chancel from the nave are two archways of Corsham Down stone - one on each side and the columns of polished Irish marble with carved stone capitals have an imposing and elegant appearance. At the north side, opening into the organ chamber and the vestry, is a simple archway of Bath stone. The reredos consists on either side of a central mosaic panel charged with the Greek Alpha and Omega, and bordered with encaustic and majolica tiles of elegant pattern, supplied by Messrs. Maw & Co., who likewise furnished the floor tiles. The east window is very handsome, being filled with stained glass by Messrs. Heaton, Butler and Bayne, of London, and "The Resurrection" is the subject represented. The centre compartment represents the Saviour - a nearly life-sized figure with the Roman guards lying beneath. On one side of the Saviour stand the Virgin Mary and the women who first visited the holy sepulchre; on the other side is the angel sitting on the stone rolled away from the door of the sepulchre, the background and sepulchre [p. 38] being drawn from a sketch of an ancient tomb now existing close to Jerusalem. Bordering the side windows is some stained glass. The fittings of the church have been carried out satisfactorily. The reading-desk and lectern, as also the seats, are of oak, the latter having carved ends and poppy-heads. Tracery work and carving enrich the reading-desk and lectern, the book-board of the latter being supported by a beautifully executed carved eagle. The stone carving - including the carved bosses has been executed by Messrs. Boulton & Son, of Cheltenham, and in the most satisfactory manner is their work accomplished. Mr. A. H. Green, the builder, constructed the seats and the reading-desk. The carving of the lectern was entrusted to Mr. J. Forsyth, sculptor, of London. The lectern is in the Gothic style, the emblems of the four Evangelists being represented on the base. The south sacrarium window is filled with stained glass by Messrs. Heaton, Butler & Bayne, the subject represented being "Dorcas distributing clothes to the poor". On the altar-shelf is an oak cross, made from a portion of the old chancel roof. A piece of the "Boundary Oak" - an old tree between Bloxworth and Bere Regis - was used to bind the service-book on the litany desk. This tree is said to be 500 years old. Having noticed the chief points of interest in the sacred edifice as restored, it now remains for us to report the proceedings at the opening service, which took place on Thursday week. There was morning [p. 39] prayer, the clergy and others who took part in the proceedings meeting at the schoolroom. There were present the Rector of Bloxworth (the Rev. O. P. Cambridge), Ven. Archdeacon Sanctuary, Rev. W. Gildea (West Lulworth), Rev. E. P. Blunt (Lytchett Minster), Rev. F. Warre (Bere Regis), Rev. Prebendary Nash (Tolpuddle), Rev. S. B. Taylor (Wareham), Rev. G. T. Whish, Rev. J. F. Bourke (Corfe Castle), Rev. R. W. Plumptre (Corfe Mullen), Rev. - Hartley, Rev. R. Roberts (Milton Abbas), Rev. C. G. Wheat (Milborne St. Andrew), Rev. T. H. House (Winterbourne Anderson), Rev. G. H. Wynne (Winterbourne Whitchurch), Rev. F. Newington (Wool), Rev. W. Morrison, and the Rev. J. Parr (Rural Dean of Whitchurch). At eleven o'clock the clergy proceeded in procession, two and two, to the church, being preceded by the churchwardens, Messrs. Swyer and Young, and a banner with cross worked in green silk on a white ground. The Ven. Archdeacon Sanctuary, the Rev. O. P. Cambridge, and the Rev. J. Parr were at the rear of the procession; and before them was carried a banner with cross and arms of the University College, Durham, white silk on a mauve silk ground. The service was that for the day with the exception of the first lesson, for which I Kings viii. 16-62 was substituted. The prayers were intoned by the rector. The chants were taken chiefly from "The Oxford Chant Book". The Rev. E. P. Cambridge read the first lesson, and the Rev. W. Morrison the second [p. 40] lesson. After the third collect was sung hymn No. 306. The Ven. Archdeacon Sanctuary read the Communion Service, the Epistle being read by the Rev. J. Parr, and the Gospel by the Rev. T. H. House. Before the sermon hymn No. 164 was sung. The Ven. Archdeacon Sanctuary, who occupied the pulpit, delivered an eloquent and impressive discourse, founded on St. Luke xix. 47, "He taught daily in the temple". The preacher, after an exposition of the passage, dwelt on the lessons to be derived therefrom, closing with an earnest prayer that God would bless all the ordinances of the church in that place. During the reading of the offertory sentences the sum of £28 7s. 4½d. was collected for the organ fund. After the administration of the Holy Sacrament the clergy returned to the schoolroom, but before all have left the sacred edifice it may be as well to notice the decorations. Two handsome candlesticks were on the altar, and there were elegant vases filled with garden lilies. The font had handsome floral decorations, and near the reading-desk and pulpit were placed floral crosses. The Rev. W. Morrison, Mrs. Morrison, the Misses Sharpe, the servants of the Misses Newton (Bloxworth House), Miss Ada Newton, and Master Newton were amongst those who kindly assisted in decorating the church. The following is a list of special contributions by the rector's relatives and friends:- Communion plate, by Mr. J. T. Trenchard, of Poxwell and Greenhill, Weymouth; Communion table, by Mrs. [p. 41] Wallace, mother of the rector's wife; two Glastonbury chairs, by Miss Wallace, aunt of Mrs. O. P. Cambridge; east window, memorial of the late Rev. G. P. Cambridge, presented by his widow and children; south window, memorial to Mrs. C. P. de Coëtlogon, presented by her husband; lectern, memorial to the same, presented by some of her brothers and sisters and other relatives; altar-cloth and altar linen, worked by Mrs. W. Morrison, sister of Mrs. O. P. Cambridge; cushions for altar steps and litany desk, worked by Mrs. O. P. Cambridge, the rector's wife; two kneeling-stools for the Communion table, worked by Miss Newton and Miss Caroline Newton, of Bloxworth House; illuminated text (by Mr. Elgar, of Blandford), "In this house will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts ", given by the parishioners; harmonium, given by Miss Wallace, aunt of Mrs. O. P. Cambridge; alms bag, worked by Mrs. Fox, family nurse to Mrs. Wallace; first banner, worked by Miss Sharpe and Miss Agnes Sharpe, also two flags for the tent; second banner, worked by Ellen Stone, nurse to the rector's family. Among other contributors, not of the rector's family, may be specially mentioned Miss Gordon, daughter of the late Mr. R. Gordon, of Leweston, near Sherborne, and Mrs. Robinson, of Effingham, Leatherhead, Surrey. The rector entertained the visitors at a splendid banquet in a spacious marquee on the grounds in front of the rectory. Mrs. Drake, an old servant of the family, had [p. 42] been specially engaged to superintend the arrangements, and she discharged her duty with the utmost skill and satisfaction. The tables were tastefully decorated with flowers and usefully adorned with a plentiful supply of very fine strawberries. The guests numbered about a hundred. The school children and the villagers were regaled with tea in the rectory grounds. Evening service was commenced at six o'clock. The church was crowded, and the preacher was the Rev. J. Parr. Mrs. Morrison played the harmonium at both services.'

Image of Bloxworth church, between pp. 40-41

It need only be added that the chancel has weathered well during the forty-seven years that have passed since its restoration, and has been further beautified by the filling of the other windows with good stained glass, in memory of relatives of the late rector. In 1872 an organ of singularly beautiful tone was added - the work of Messrs. Bishop and Starr. It has only one manual (besides pedals), and for many years my father intended to add one or two more; but in the end he decided that a three-manual organ would be liable to become a difficulty in a village church, owing to the rarity of good organists, and diverted the fund which he had intended for this purpose to the provision of an organ for the chapel of Weymouth College. His decision was justified by the experience of the many years during which my mother acted as organist; for probably neither she nor the village schoolmistress who succeeded her could have done justice to a larger organ and the fine tone [p. 43] of the organ as it is and the variety of its stops render it thoroughly adequate to the needs of divine worship.

There was yet another piece of construction to be carried out, before my father could feel that his parish was properly equipped. The old school building, a cottage on the village green, was quite inadequate; and with the help of various friends he built, in the course of 1873, the present school, half-way between the Rectory and the Church, and made a good playground in front of it. By the Trust Deed it became the property of the Rector and Churchwardens, and has always been administered as a Church of England school. Until he reached extreme old age, my father was for practical purposes sole manager, and after the transfer of the control of education to the County Council, this work became much more onerous than it had been, owing to the large amount of 'red tape' involved (perhaps inevitably) in this method of administration. But the school has almost always obtained creditable reports from His Majesty's Inspectors, and even more so from the Diocesan Inspectors in Religious Knowledge ; and the Sunday School, in which my mother took so large a part while she lived, has been well maintained since her death by the devotion of others.

Four more sons were born to my parents - myself (Arthur Wallace) on January 20, 1873; Charles Owen on November 9, 1874; Alfred Edward Lloyd on November 14, 1876; and William Adair on December 14, 1879. [p. 44] From the time of his entry into the Rectory until his death, my father lived the uneventful life of a country parson, seldom leaving home except for a few days' collecting from time to time, or a meeting of the Dorset Field Club, or a brief visit to London or Oxford, principally for work in Natural History Museums, or sometimes to spend a few days with a brother naturalist. The contents of his diaries show some of the interests which entered into a singularly happy and contented life the dates of the planting and digging of potatoes, of the first rhubarb, asparagus, peas, or strawberries, of the 'meets' of foxhounds at Bloxworth or the 'Red Post', of the buying and selling of pigs, - of concerts in his own or neighbouring villages, and so on. He took some part in the life of the Diocese also he was a member of the Salisbury Diocesan Synod from 1871 (when he was elected to represent the Poole Deanery) to 1889, and attended its meetings regularly. He was not a very frequent speaker, but did not shrink from taking an independent line when he felt called upon to do so, and in discussions at Salisbury and elsewhere upon the financial side of ecclesiastical life his strong common sense and capacity for business contributed something towards the opinions of others. He held particularly strong views on the subject of ecclesiastical dilapidations, the charge for which, he thought, should be divided between a Central Church Fund and the incumbent on the same lines as those [p. 45] on which the cost of secular buildings is distributed between landlord and tenant, and he had thought out a scheme on this basis in some detail. He had also very clear views as to methods of providing pensions for clergy. For three years (1879-82), at the urgent request of Bishop Moberly, he acted as Diocesan Inspector for Schools in the Poole Deanery; but the expenses of travelling from place to place in the Deanery, almost entirely in hired carriages, were more than he could meet, with five sons to bring up; and when it appeared that the Bishop was unable to carry out his undertaking that these expenses should be met from Diocesan sources, he was obliged to give up the work, to the great regret of his brother clergy of the Deanery, as well as of the Bishop. When he became Rector of Bloxworth in 1868 he at once made certain changes in the services he instituted monthly instead of quarterly celebrations of Holy Communion, in addition, of course, to celebrations at the Great Festivals, and began to hold special services in Holy Week changes which were then considered great advances, though more recent practice has gone far beyond them. He also took pains with the training of the mixed choir of boys and girls which has always led the singing in Bloxworth Church; his conduct of Divine Service was most reverent and dignified, and his reading of the Bible (a matter in which many clergy are sadly incompetent) was both impressive and intelligible. He [p. 46] was an old-fashioned High Churchman, and took a somewhat severe view of Dissent - though no Dissenter ever found him lacking in charity in times of need. Towards the end of his life his sermons seemed to be long and rather dry, and to deal with warnings based on the Old Testament to an extent which had become unfashionable; and it was no doubt true that he had not brought his methods or ideas into accordance with those of some newer schools of clergy; but I can well remember that at a rather earlier time, when his delivery was more lively and rapid, he made much more impression by his preaching, and was often asked for 'occasional' sermons in neighbouring parishes. He almost always read his sermons, and often revised and repeated them after intervals of several years; but on one or two special occasions I remember that he preached ex tempore, and threw more feeling into his utterance than he generally showed in the pulpit. But whatever might be thought of his preaching, there is no doubt that he thoroughly understood his parishioners, nearly all of whom were farm labourers of the type which prevails in the West of England he knew their work and their life and its conditions as well as they did; and to every one in the parish he was always ready to give advice and help on any matter on which help was needed; he had, and retained to his death, their trust and affection, based partly (at least in the case of the older inhabitants) on their traditional and [p. 47] genuine loyalty to the family, but mainly on his own constant willingness and capacity to be of use to them. There was little parochial organization. This was not needed where every one knew every one else and all about them; and he was the last person in the world to divide his people into sheep and goats by a system of 'guilds' and 'bands', as it is now usual to do. But he taught them in church and school, and prepared them for Confirmation; they came to him naturally in any trouble or difficulty; he told them faithfully when he thought they were wrong, and did not always wait to be asked his opinion. There was a parish Lending Library and a Clothing Club, which were managed by my mother, who was also a constant visitor to the cottages in the village, and cared for every one's wants. At the School Festival and at Christmas he entertained as many as he could of his parishioners; and Christmas in particular was kept at the Rectory with old-fashioned hospitality, and the singing of the old Village Carols (and many newer ones) in the large drawing-room. He was especially fond of children and young people, and glad to help his young parishioners to a good start in life. The part which he played was all the more important because during a great part of his time as Rector there was no resident Squire; but his character and ability would in any case have made his position very much what it was. In 1887 he added to his services to the parish by the re-seating of the nave of [p. 48] the church; the old high- backed pews were falling to pieces - they had always been very uncomfortable and these he replaced by the present seats; a new pulpit was given by my mother and others in place of the Jacobean pulpit which, though picturesque, was decaying and in some ways inconvenient. What was sound in the Jacobean woodwork was used to line the base of the tower where the font now stands, and so give it, as the Baptistery, some distinction; and a much-needed heating apparatus was introduced into the church. The new pulpit was used for the first time on my mother's birthday, November 6, 1887, and the rest of the work was finished on December 1. When one looks back over his life as Rector for nearly fifty years, and the longer life which was almost all passed in Bloxworth, it is no wonder that one of the older farm labourers a man not much given to expressing emotion should have said, when my father passed away, 'There, 'tis the end of all things to we.'

Image of Bloxworth church interior, between pp 48-49

Of my father's other parish, Winterbourne Tomson, there is little to say. It consisted of a handful of people - never much more and often less than twenty in all - living in a few cottages clustered round a decayed little church in a field two miles from Bloxworth. My father took a service there every Sunday for his tiny congregation until about 1890, when the church was closed with the consent of the Bishop, and with good reason, since there was a church just beyond each of the next fields to east and [p. 49] west, and the waste of energy was absurd. For about thirty years, as Curate or Rector, my father had walked over Sunday after Sunday in all weathers, sometimes returning drenched to the skin, sometimes with his beard bristling with long icicles, sometimes almost 'done up' with the mid-day heat. He calculated that he had covered about 7,000 miles in coming and going between Bloxworth and Tomson. In later years the occasional duties at Tomson were generally performed by Mr. Askew, the Rector of the two adjoining parishes, who was kind enough to give his help. One who knew my father well some thirty years ago writes: 'My mind is crowded with memories of the very happy days which your father and mother planned for us in childhood. They were friends I can never forget. There are certain bits of landscape I can only picture with your father in them. Tomson Park requires him with his big stride and his coat-tails fluttering in the wind. I think of him as the ideal parson of a small country parish.'

To his family my father was always a boy among boys; he shared all our pursuits and amusements, and, without knowing how much we were gaining, we acquired from him a delight in nature and a habit of observing natural objects which has been one of the best things in our lives. He would take any pains for our pleasure. He made little gardens for us, and taught us to keep them. When we were quite small he would make us a cricket-pitch each year, roll it for hours, and bowl to us cunning [p. 50] under-hand balls; and when a more permanent cricket-ground was made, he entered with zest into all the arrangements for matches, and would put up the tents himself, and delight in welcoming our visitors. He rarely went out for a walk or for a collecting expedition without one or more of us, and we had no greater pleasure than his companionship, for he was always fresh and never seemed to grow old. Now and then he would take us for longer expeditions to Lulworth, or Swanage, or to meetings of the Dorset Field Club; and when, as we grew older, we came to hold views different from his own on many matters, it made no difference to the happiness of our companionship with him. His delight in music has already been mentioned. He was a good violinist; he had a fine violin made by Vuillaume on the model of Guarnerius; and he was much in request, both as a violinist and a singer, at all village concerts in the neighbourhood. Many such concerts were held at Bloxworth in his time, sometimes at the school, sometimes in the drawing-room at the Rectory, which would hold an audience of over sixty; a platform for the performers was erected at one end of the room, and became permanent. But for many years most of the concerts in which he took part were those held at Bere Regis, where there were several keen musicians. He was always careful to choose good music, generally that of the classical continental composers or of the great English writers of glees and madrigals; and it was found that these were [p. 51] quite as warmly appreciated by village audiences as any trumpery could have been. He was more fond of orchestral than of solo music, and in the later 'eighties and afterwards he was a conspicuous figure in the Dorset Orchestral Association, which did excellent work in the practice and public performance of the best music at Dorchester and Weymouth, under the conductorship of Mr. William Stone. Many of the symphonies and overtures of Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert were successfully given by this energetic body, and until 1905, when old age obliged him to give up regular playing, my father usually led the second violins; members of the Association used also to come to Bloxworth and help in concerts there the wind-parts being mostly taken on the harmonium by my youngest brother. He took part whenever he could in the choral festivals held in the churches of Dorchester and Weymouth, and in the con- certs of the Weymouth College Musical Society so long as any of his sons were pupils at that school; and on several occasions he and one or more of his sons played in the orchestra at the choral festivals in Salisbury Cathedral, to which the village choir was also taken whenever it was possible. He himself wrote several good Anglican chants and one or two hymn-tunes. Once only, so far as I can remember, he varied music with drama. In 1885 some ambitious spirits at Bere Regis gave a performance of The Rivals, in which my father took the part of Sir Anthony Absolute with great effect. In all [p. 52] his musical activities he was fortunate in being able to combine his enjoyment of good music with the happiness, which was always very real and genuine, of doing something for the pleasure of others. He was President of the Dorset Orchestral Association from 1897 to his death.


Octavius Pickard-Cambridge (1828-1917) was born in Bloxworth rectory and eventually succeeded his father as Rector of that parish and of Winterborne Tomson in 1868. He was a famous entomologist and a world authority on arachnids (spiders). For other accounts of his life, see:

[Paper transcribed from the copy digitised by the Internet Archive, produced from an original in the University of Toronto Library]