Rectors and their times: William Panckridge (1884-87)

The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2. Originally published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1921.

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E A Webb, 'Rectors and their times: William Panckridge (1884-87)', in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921) pp. 405-413. British History Online [accessed 25 May 2024].

E A Webb. "Rectors and their times: William Panckridge (1884-87)", in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921) 405-413. British History Online, accessed May 25, 2024,

Webb, E A. "Rectors and their times: William Panckridge (1884-87)", The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921). 405-413. British History Online. Web. 25 May 2024,

In this section


William Panckridge, M.A., Rector 1884–1887.

'On the 24th January, 1884, William Panckridge, clerk, M.A. (pl. XCVI, p. 374), was instituted to the rectory vacant by the death of John Abbiss on the presentation of Frederick Parr Phillips, clerk, M.A., Rector of Stoke d'Abernon, Surrey, the patron.' (fn. 1) He was inducted on the 25th January 1884, when there were present the Bishop of St. Albans (T. H. Claughton), the Bishop of Bedford (Walsham How), Bishop Blomfield, the Rural Dean, the patron, and others.

Mr. Panckridge was the son of Francis Panckridge, Esq., of Bradwell, Oxon. He was educated at a private school at Banbury, whence he went to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1864 and M.A. in 1868. He was ordained deacon in 1865, and priest (by the Bishop of London) in 1866. After leaving college he was a master at All Saints' School, Bloxham, Oxon., under the Rev. R. Egerton. He was curate of St. Matthew's, City Road, from 1865 to 1866, when he was appointed head master of St. Thomas's, Charterhouse, middle-class school. In 1870 he was also evening lecturer at St. Lawrence Jewry. In 1872 he went back to St. Matthew's, City Road, as vicar, and remained there until he came to St. Bartholomew's in 1884. He was a member of the London School Board from 1885 until his death two years later.

His coming to St. Bartholomew's was the occasion of a great revival of church life in the parish, which had naturally suffered from the previous rector having been so long incapacitated by his great age. He instituted a working men's club, a boys' club, a Sunday school for boys, systematic visiting in the parish, and other parochial organizations. He introduced a surpliced choir of men and boys, for the payment of whom and of the organist he made himself responsible.

He preached his first sermon on the 17th February 1884, and from that time continued to preach regularly. He always had the assistance of at least one curate, and in addition frequently invited other preachers to occupy his pulpit; among such were the Bishop of Bedford, the Bishop of Colchester, Bishop Bromby, Canon Benham, Canon Elwyn, and Canon Phillips, the patron. Until July 1884 he was assisted by the Rev. R. F. Hosken, and then by the Rev. H. B. Bromby, an old college friend, who gave up his appointment as Dean of Hobart, Tasmania, to come to work with him. Within twelve months, however, Bromby was appointed vicar of St. John the Evangelist's, Bethnal Green, and Rural Dean of Spitalfields, and in 1892 he was transferred to All Saints', Clifton, where he remained until his death on the 21st December 1911. Bromby was succeeded at St. Bartholomew's by the Rev. N. C. S. Poyntz, but in September 1886 he too had preferment, and was presented to the vicarage of Dorchester, Oxon., which he held until his death in 1920. Poyntz was succeeded by the Rev. F. W. J. Daniels and the Rev. Pelham Ogle, both of whom remained until Mr. Panckridge's death in 1887.

Mr. Panckridge's first appearance at a vestry meeting was on the 4th April 1884, (fn. 2) and at the Easter vestry, on the 17th of the same month, he nominated Mr. E. A. Webb his warden, the vestry electing Mr. R. H. Peck of Bartholomew Close as their warden. (fn. 3) There were 41 vestrymen at this time, but the matters with which they had to deal as a vestry were few and unimportant. In November 1883 they had to consider an offer from the Butchers' Company of £1,000 for the parish house, No. 86 Bartholomew Close; (fn. 4) but as this house was scheduled under Bryce's City of London Parochial Charities Bill, then passing through Parliament, the vestry did not consider themselves free to deal with the offer.

In July 1884 the vestry found it necessary to serve a notice upon the occupiers of the houses abutting on the great churchyard, that any persons entering the churchyard from such houses or throwing refuse thereon would be treated as trespassers or offenders. (fn. 5)

In January 1885 the vestry chronicled the information that the Fishmongers' Company, who claimed the right-of-way over the passage from Queen's Square to Aldersgate Street, known as Bowman's Buildings, had removed the bar from the entrance to this passage, (fn. 6) which greatly facilitated its use by the public.

In April 1886 it was reported to the vestry that the Corporation had decided to demolish the glebe houses, No. 95 Bartholomew Close and No. 1 Duke Street, to widen the entrance to the Close. (fn. 7) At the same time the transfer of the watch-house fund to the trustees of the parochial schools for building purposes was notified.

The one matter of importance which came before the vestry at this time was the further restoration of the church.

The Restoration of 1885.

William Panckridge will always be remembered at St. Bartholomew's as the prime mover, with Canon Phillips the patron, of the second restoration of the church.

At the induction of Rector Panckridge in 1884 the patron had generously given £1,000 to be applied to the further restoration, a work which, as we have seen, could not be carried through in 1867 from inability to secure the fringe-maker's premises.

On the 15th September 1884, on the suggestion of Canon Phillips, the rector called a meeting of the churchwardens and overseers 'to form a consultative committee to consider the purchase of certain buildings standing on the site of the ancient church; such committee not to interfere with the works committee constituted by the vestry on the 20th October 1882, to deal with the repair of the existing fabric'. (fn. 8) A consultative committee was formed of those present at the meeting with the addition of the patron. The two churchwardens (E. A. Webb and R. H. Peck) and the two overseers (Benjamin Turner and W. T. Wingrove) agreed jointly to purchase No. 10 Cloth Fair, commonly known as the Blacksmith's Forge, then on the site of the north transept; and to hold the same as trustees for the parish until the latter was in a position to take over the property for the benefit of the restoration of the church (p. 120).

Sir Aston Webb (not knighted at that time) had previously ascertained that the owner, Mr. F. G. Debenham, was willing to part with the house for the benefit of the church for the sum of £1,250. At the next meeting (on 11th October) (fn. 9) Sir Aston submitted an offer from Mr. Debenham to sell for £1,120, which was accepted, and the purchase was carried through in due course. (fn. 10) Subsequently the four trustees conveyed the property (fn. 11) at the cost price to the rector, the patron, Sir William (then Mr. T. W.) Boord, and Mr. E. A. Webb for the restoration of the north transept.

At the initial meeting, 15th September 1884, the purchase of the Fringe Factory, occupying the ancient Lady Chapel, and known as 40–42 Bartholomew Close, was considered. The leaseholder at that time was Mr. Denison, who had succeeded Mr. Stanborough: the freeholder being Mr. Frederick Hindley. The latter was known personally to Sir Aston, who undertook the negotiations, and whose name was added to the committee. (fn. 12) The price asked for the property was £8,000. The land measure was shown by survey to be 5,300 ft.

super, and the portion projecting into the church 1,289 ft. super, the value of which together Sir Aston estimated at £6,150. (fn. 13) In March (1885) he succeeded in obtaining an option of it for a month for £6,500. (fn. 14)

Thereupon the patron offered to purchase that portion of the fringe factory which projected into the church at Sir Aston Webb's valuation, £650; provided that the committee would purchase the rest, and that the £1,500 already given by him should be expended on the restoration of the apse. (fn. 15)

The consultative committee, having now obtained the option of the two important buildings which stood upon the site of the monastic church, a parish meeting was called, at which it was decided to form a Restoration (fn. 16) Committee to acquire the properties and to carry out a restoration. An influential General Committee was soon formed, (fn. 17) including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Bedford, the Earl of Devon, and Earl Waldegrave; the Dean of St. Paul's, the Dean of Exeter, the Dean of Windsor, and the Dean of Manchester; Canon Gregory, Canon Liddon, and Precentor Venables; Lord Charles Bruce, the Hon. Dudley Fortescue, Lord Avebury (then Sir John Lubbock), Sir Sydney Waterlow, Sir William Boord, Sir F. T. Dixon-Hartland, and many others. (fn. 18) An appeal was issued on the 2nd January 1885, with a coloured plan showing the secular encroachments on the church, and by the middle of March £3,700 had been received, which was increased to £6,500 by the end of the year.

At the first meeting of the Restoration Committee held on the 7th May (1885), (fn. 19) Lord Charles Bruce presiding, it was decided to enter into a contract for the purchase of the fringe factory, and to accept the patron's generous offer referred to above. To this gift the patron subsequently added a further £300 to complete the restoration of the apse, the whole of his gift, £2,450, to be considered a memorial to his uncle, the late rector, John Abbiss.

At the meeting on the 4th June, Sir Aston Webb, who had carried through the negotiations to a successful conclusion, was appointed architect to the committee, and was requested to prepare a scheme for the restoration of the church. Exact measured drawings of the then existing building having been made, the architect was able on the 15th December to present to the committee (fn. 20) his plans and report, in which he detailed the following works to be carried out as funds would allow:
1. The completion of the Apse.
2. The re-roofing of the Church.
3. The removal of the boys' school from the north triforium, and the re-erection of schools on a portion of the fringe factory site.
4. The removal of the forge and the existing vestry, and the building of north and south transepts.
5. Repairs to the west end, and the uncovering of the remains of the nave.
6. Seating and necessary furniture, and
7. The restoration of the Lady Chapel.

The plans were unanimously approved, and their adoption was moved by Mr. Hayter Lewis, the architect of the previous restoration, who had joined the committee six months before, and remained a member until his death.

An executive committee had been appointed, and on the 29th January (1886) they laid their report before a meeting of the general committee, over which Frederick Temple, then Bishop of London, presided. The report was unanimously adopted, and the churchwardens were requested to apply for a faculty to restore the apse, the roof, and the transepts; to remove bodies in the graveyard, and to build a new porch. (fn. 21)

On the 25th March (1886) tenders were laid before the committee for completing the apse, and re-roofing the church from end to end. Dove Brothers' tender of £3,130 was the lowest, in the aggregate, and as they had previously done work in the church it was accepted; (fn. 22) this sum, however, was reduced on the architect's recommendation to use blue Bath stone in place of Totternhoe stone for inside work; Portland stone being specified for the exterior.

The restoration, however, was not allowed to proceed without a protest from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, who expressed the opinion that to build on the ancient semicircular arcade a modern apsidal termination would be a great mistake. (fn. 23) The committee, however, strongly approved the plan of their architect, and Mr. Beresford Hope wrote 'that the arguments of the Society did not carry conviction to his mind, that they seemed to exaggerate archaeological considerations and to be thoroughly impracticable'. He hoped 'that the architect would persevere and prosper in his wise and successful plan of restoration'. (fn. 24) The work was then commenced, and it was so arranged that the church was only closed for three Sundays from the 15th August; and during that time evening service was held in the schoolroom.

By the 15th October the rector was able to report to the vestry (fn. 25) that the apse was nearly finished and the roof completed; on the 2nd November the architect reported to the committee that the builders had carried out their work to contract time (30th October), and practically without extras. (fn. 26) An addition of boards and moulded ribs, however, had had to be made to the apse roof, as on the removal of the scaffold the effect had not proved sufficiently dignified. (fn. 27) Also when the upper part of the east wall was removed the pillar at the south end of it showed signs of weakness; it was therefore strengthened by pouring into its centre liquid cement, a flying buttress being built in the triforium to secure the wall over it.

At this time the entrance to the church was moved from the centre of the west wall to the west end of the south aisle, which necessitated the removal of the font to a position under the organ gallery; (fn. 28) and the heating apparatus had to be extended by the insertion of iron coils in different parts of the church in consequence of the enlargement of the building.

In April (1886) a strong school building committee was formed which purchased for £1,100, as a site for the new schools, 1,900 ft of the fringe factory land south of that building, (fn. 29) at one time the burial-ground of the canons. This open space was given up to building purposes with regret, but otherwise the schools would have been lost, which the rector was especially anxious to avoid.

In May the funds of the Restoration were helped by an official visit of the Lord Mayor, when Dr. (now Sir) Norman Moore and Sir Aston Webb both delivered lectures in the church to an audience of about 500 people. (fn. 30) Sir N. Moore, who had previously given 100 copies of The Book of the Foundation, edited by him from the original manuscript, had 500 copies printed of The Ordinance of Richard de Ely of the year 1198, 'edited from the original document' in St. Paul's Cathedral Library, and these also he presented to the church. (fn. 31)

In the year 1868, when the Bridge's organ of 1731 had been lost under circumstances already explained, (fn. 32) a small organ by Gray & Davidson was purchased by Mr. Abbiss, and erected, not in the former position at the west end of the church, but on the south side opposite to Rahere's tomb; but this small instrument was quite inadequate for the building. In May 1886 Mr. Panckridge reported that the rector and churchwardens of St. Stephen's, Walbrook, being desirous of having a new organ, had offered their old one to St. Bartholomew's for £300: (fn. 33) the cost of moving was estimated at £125, and the cost of an organ loft at £175, or £600 in all. He pointed out that, if the offer were accepted, the organ could only be placed at the west end, which would materially affect the treatment of that part of the church, because the rector would then wish the quire stalls to be moved to the west end and the seats for the congregation to be arranged facing each other, as in the quire of a cathedral or college chapel. This arrangement, having the entire approval of the architect, who said it overcame the difficulty of the treatment of the west end, was adopted by the committee, (fn. 34) and the organ was purchased: the rector, Mr. T. W. Boord and Mr. J. Hilton guaranteeing the payment. (fn. 35) The small organ purchased by Mr. Abbiss was bought by his nephew, Canon Phillips, for £50, (fn. 36) and presented by him to the Epsom Guardians. The organ loft, as designed by the architect, was ordered at a cost of £215, the payment being guaranteed by twelve members of the committee. (fn. 37) The patron then came forward with the offer to complete the quire stalls at an outlay of £225 in memory of his father and mother, (fn. 38) and to provide marble altar steps for the new high altar which had been given by Miss Overbury, the rector's sister-in-law. (fn. 39) A brass lectern (fn. 40) was also given at this time by the late Mrs. J. Hilditch Evans, the widow of a late churchwarden.

On the 19th November (1886) the architect was able to make his report to the Executive Committee on the completion of this first section of the work of restoration. In the report he described the architectural fragments found during the demolition of the east wall, and of the wall dividing the church from the Lady Chapel. These fragments, with those found at the previous restoration, had been laid out on the floor of the late Fringe Factory, and are now partly in the north triforium and partly in the cloister. The report is printed in the Appendix. (fn. 41) The matters dealt with have already been described when dealing with the quire of the church. (fn. 42)

The executive committee, on the 22nd November, made their report to the General Committee, in which they also set out the various gifts mentioned above that had been made to the church. These had very materially added to the beauty of the building, which had been so much improved by the restoration of the east end.

All was now ready for the opening ceremony, which took place on St. Andrew's Day, 30th November 1886. The sermon was preached in the morning by the Bishop of Colchester (to whom at one time Mr. Panckridge had been curate), and in the evening by the Rev. F. Parr Phillips, the patron, who, with the rector, had done so much to bring this important work to a successful issue.

The occasion was celebrated by a largely attended luncheon in the great hall of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, presided over by Sir James Paget, (fn. 43) who, in a memorable speech, described the work as one of piety, sentiment, and utility. The Lord Mayor, Sir Reginald Hanson, who attended in state both the service and the luncheon, was an old college friend of the rector.

In the following February (1887) Mr. Panckridge was seized with a serious illness. He preached for the last time on the 13th of that month. He was unable to be present at the vestry on the 31st March. At the Easter vestry, on the 14th April, he wrote an affectionate letter to the members, in which he appointed Sir William Boord his churchwarden in place of Mr. Webb, who was anxious that the parish should benefit by Sir William's services, Mr. Benjamin Turner being elected people's warden. The rector gradually became worse, and, to the great sorrow of all, died on the 8th June (1887).

At a meeting of the vestry on the 21st July a resolution was passed recording their 'appreciation of his high qualities, his splendid energy and zeal', and of his 'constant devotion to the welfare of the church and parish', and of the good which his efforts had produced in the welfare of the people. (fn. 44) The London School Board also passed a resolution of regret at losing his services.

He was buried at Highgate Cemetery, the first part of the burial office being said at St. Bartholomew's. The inscription on his tombstone is:

William Panckridge, priest, Rector of St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield. Fell asleep June 8th, 1887, aged 50 years. R.I.P.

'He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest him a long life: even for ever and ever.'

His widow was buried in the same grave on 30th July 1921.

The Restoration Fund at the time of his death amounted to £8,700.

Mr. Panckridge resided within the Charterhouse until the spring of 1885, when, the rooms being no longer available, he moved to No. 17 Bedford Square.

His son, Hugh Rahere, born on the 2nd October 1885, was baptized in the church by the Bishop of Colchester on the 1st November following. (fn. 45)

The account of the erection of a quire screen as a memorial to this rector is given further on; the screen has already been described. (fn. 46)


  • 1. Reg. Lond., Jackson, iii, 89.
  • 2. V. M. Bk. x, 302.
  • 3. Ib., 306.
  • 4. See above, p. 219.
  • 5. V. M Bk. x, 309.
  • 6. Ib., 318.
  • 7. Above, p. 223.
  • 8. Rest. M. Bk. i, 361.
  • 9. Ib., 364.
  • 10. Parish Safe, D. 64.
  • 11. Ib., D. 65.
  • 12. Rest. M. Bk. i, 366.
  • 13. Rest. M. Bk. i, 373.
  • 14. Ib., 381.
  • 15. Ib., 378.
  • 16. Ib., 382.
  • 17. Ib., 397.
  • 18. App. II, p. 544.
  • 19. Rest. M. Bk. i, 395.
  • 20. Ib., 407; App. II, p. 545.
  • 21. Parish Safe, Faculty 24 Mar. 1886, D. 76.
  • 22. Rest. M. Bk. i, 430.
  • 23. Ib., 434.
  • 24. Ib., 443.
  • 25. V. M. Bk. x, 351.
  • 26. Rest. M. Bk. i, 459.
  • 27. Ib., 459.
  • 28. Ib., 461.
  • 29. Ib., 449.
  • 30. Ib., 444.
  • 31. Ib., 429.
  • 32. Above, p. 49.
  • 33. Rest. M. Bk. i, 439; and see above, p. 49 (and App. II, p. 502).
  • 34. Ib., 442.
  • 35. Ib., 447.
  • 36. Ib., 451.
  • 37. Ib., 451.
  • 38. Ib., 458, and see above, p. 48.
  • 39. Ib., 456 a.
  • 40. See above, p. 49.
  • 41. App. II, p. 549.
  • 42. Above, p. 15.
  • 43. V. M. Bk. x, 355.
  • 44. Ib., 365.
  • 45. Par. Reg. xxi, 154.
  • 46. Above, p. 49.