Rectors and their times: W.F.G. Sandwith (1907-)

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: W.F.G. Sandwith (1907-)', in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921) pp. 436-445. British History Online [accessed 22 May 2024].

E A Webb. "Rectors and their times: W.F.G. Sandwith (1907-)", in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921) 436-445. British History Online, accessed May 22, 2024,

Webb, E A. "Rectors and their times: W.F.G. Sandwith (1907-)", The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921). 436-445. British History Online. Web. 22 May 2024,

In this section


W. F. G. Sandwith, M.A., Rector 1907.

The Rev. William Fitzgerald Gambier Sandwith, M.A., was instituted to the rectory vacant by the death of Sir Borradaile Savory, Bart., 'on the presentation of Frederick Abbiss Phillips, Lieut. of H.M. Army retired, of the Manor House, Stoke d'Abernon'. The ceremony of institution was conducted by the Bishop of London (Dr. Winnington-Ingram) in the church on the 20th January 1907, after he had unveiled the restored window of the Lady Chapel. The induction took place at the same time by the Rev. J. W. Pratt, Rural Dean (pl. XCVI, p. 374).

Mr. Sandwith is the twentieth rector instituted since the suppression of the monastery. He is the son of the late William Sandwith of the Indian Civil Service, and was born at Baroch, India, on the 18th July 1861. He was educated at Twyford School, from whence he proceeded to Westminster, where he was Queen's scholar. He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1880; graduated B.A. in 1884, and M.A. in 1904. He was ordained deacon in 1884 and priest (in London) in 1885. After reading for Holy Orders with Dr. C. J. Vaughan, at that time Dean of Llandaff and Master of the Temple, he was appointed curate at St. Margaret's, Westminster, under Archdeacon Farrar, in 1884; and Curate-in-charge of Enville, Staffordshire, in 1886. He was presented to the vicarage of Holkham with Egmere and Waterden, Norfolk, in 1887; and to that of St. Barnabas with St. Silas, South Kennington, in 1900, where he was in charge until 1907.

He was in the cricket and football elevens at Westminster; he was in the Oxford football eleven, and played in the semi-final for the English Football Association Cup in the Old Westminster Eleven; he was for eleven years in the Norfolk cricket eleven, of which for several years he was captain.

Prior to his induction a movement was started, on the initiative of Sir Dyce Duckworth, to raise a memorial to his predecessor, Sir Borradaile Savory. (fn. 1) An influential committee was appointed, which included the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Oxford, Mr. Peter Reid, and many others, with Sir Dyce Duckworth as chairman. Following the rule in the church, already referred to, that memorials should take the form of something required by the church, it was resolved that the most suitable memorial would be 'the protection of the sanctuary by low screens which would not interfere with the present prospect of the quire, and in which could be incorporated a personal memorial in bronze'. (fn. 2) A large-scale drawing of Sir Aston Webb's proposal was submitted to the committee and unanimously accepted by them, (fn. 3) but at a later meeting opposition to the scheme was raised, and seven months after, in July 1907, it was in consequence relinquished. (fn. 4) The result of this has been that another mural tablet has been added to those of the eighteenth century. New Communion rails and a tablet in the porch recording the works of restoration carried out during the time of the last three rectors (two things required by the church) were, however, allowed as part of the memorial, (fn. 5) and these, together with the mural tablet, were unveiled and dedicated on the 10th May 1908, (fn. 6) by the then Bishop of Stepney (Dr. Lang).

During the interval between the death of the previous rector and the institution of his successor the graveyard was greatly disfigured by the erection of a very high building at its west end, facing Smithfield. (fn. 7) This could not be prevented as it interfered with no lights in the church. During its erection the Smithfield gateway was in considerable jeopardy, as it had to be underpinned, but owing to the steps taken by the architect, it escaped unhurt. (fn. 8) An encroachment was, however, made on the church property by the owners of the building without any previous notice. They opened a fire-escape door on to the graveyard instead of the street. (fn. 9) A lease of a right-of-way was eventually granted during pleasure on payment of an annual rent. (fn. 10)

For many years it had been deemed desirable to obtain, if possible, the house over this Smithfield gate, which, as already pointed out, (fn. 11) was the south-west portal of the church; also to remove the shop front which encroached upon it. In the year 1900 long negotiations were entered into with the trustee owners to expose the portion of the arch hidden by the stationer's shop, but without result. (fn. 12) In November 1908, however, Sir Aston Webb obtained from the trustees a definite offer to sell to the church authorities the house over the archway, and six feet to the south of the same, for the sum of £1,875. (fn. 13)

This gateway was alienated from the church at the time of the suppression, when Rich sold the rooms over it, but he used the arched doorway as a place in which to hang a gate of his 'liberty'. (fn. 14) The gateway thus came to belong to the parish as distinct from the church; therefore the raising of the money to purchase the gate-house was undertaken outside the Restoration Fund.

A meeting of citizens was held on November 27th, 1908, in the great hall of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, with Dr. Edwin Freshfield in the chair, when all present resolved themselves into a committee to secure the property, and the Restoration Committee were asked to carry out the work. Over £700 was received or promised at the meeting, and by the end of December the subscription list amounted to £1,550.

About the same time, on December 18th, 1908, the vestry decided, (fn. 15) as already stated, (fn. 16) that the time had come when they might allow the Corporation to remove the gates, (fn. 17) and cease payments to the watchmen (fn. 18) (the last of whom happened to die during the negotiations), for the consideration of a payment of £1,500. Of this £646 was devoted to defray the balance of the cost of the gate-house and its repairs. (fn. 19) The remainder was invested in the names of trustees, (fn. 20) and the interest, together with the rents of the rooms over the gate, provides a sum for keeping the gate and gate-house in repair, and also for other purely parochial purposes, (fn. 21) when there is a balance available.

The house above the arch was then put into a habitable state and strengthened with small iron girders below. During the work it was found that it was a half-timbered building, dating from the year 1595, covered in front with tiles to resemble bricks. The demolishing of the shop front exposed the remainder of the south side of the arch, and also, on the west face, a fragment of a mural arcade, as is to be seen at Dunstable Priory. The stationer's window was set back in such a manner as to be under the control of the parish trustees. (fn. 22) On the east side of the arch an Early English base and capital to a vaulting shaft of the first bay of the south aisle were uncovered, and these have been left exposed to view. (fn. 23)

In 1916 the restoration of the gate-house took place, as already described, (fn. 24) whereby the imitation bricks were removed, and the original half-timbered building was brought to light; and in 1917 a war shrine was placed on the new wall face on the south side of the gateway. (fn. 25)

The right-of-way through the gate is for foot-passengers only; but on the occasion of the royal visit in 1893, the bar which ensured its being so used was taken down and not replaced; however, the complaints of danger to pedestrians from heavy market carts being brought through were so frequent (fn. 26) that in 1914 the churchwardens had to replace the bar as it now is.

The girls' and infants' schools, as already stated, had been built by Rector Abbiss partly on the site of the south chapel, which was still the freehold of the church, and partly on land which Rich had alienated from the church, of which Abbiss held a long lease. In the year 1902 it was recognized that it was very desirable that the church should acquire the freehold of this leasehold property, and it was resolved to take steps to that end. (fn. 27) In March 1904 the lease, which was missing, having been found, it was decided to bring the matter before the patron (Capt. F. A. Phillips) as the head leaseholder. (fn. 28) The estate of the late freeholder, Durran, however, being in chancery, there were difficulties; (fn. 29) but in 1906 the patron kindly offered to purchase, up to a certain sum, (fn. 30) the freehold for the church. This promise his widow, now Mrs. Bowen Buscarlet, the patron, kindly fulfilled in December 1911, after long and tedious negotiations with the beneficiaries of the estate, at a cost of £150, (fn. 31) together with heavy fees for survey, &c.

At this time excavations had been carried out (fn. 32) whereby the dimensions of the first Lady Chapel had been ascertained; and there were discovered in the furnace room the remains of the walls of the south chapel, disclosing the fact that the chapel had two apses, like the corresponding chapels at Norwich. On the north side of the church excavations revealed nothing of importance other than the remains of early fifteenth-century walls in the area at the north-east end. But when, in the year 1913, the furnace was removed from the south chapel, and placed outside the church by the old Boys' School, a block of masonry was found in situ, indicating that the north chapel also had an eastern apse like that of the south chapel. (fn. 33)

Other investigations revealed the fact that there was a narrow arched doorway (or window) in the east end of the north aisle, behind the plaster, and covered at that time by the Roycroft monument. This was opened out in the year 1914. The jamb still remains of a similar opening at the east end of the south aisle. (fn. 34)

Cockerill's Buildings and Pope's Cottages on the south side of the church also formed part of the Durran estate in chancery. Again, after long and protracted negotiations, commencing in the year 1904, an agreement was made with the beneficiaries of the estate in July 1910, (fn. 35) whereby two pieces of land adjoining the church, one measuring 41 ft. by 19 ft., which included the greater part of the site of the sacristy, another measuring 41 ft. by 5 ft., to form an approach thereto, were to be granted in exchange for certain easements over the south (or green) churchyard and rights of way over Cockerill's Buildings to the same churchyard; the object being that the south side of the church should be entirely cleared from secular buildings.

In order to carry out this agreement a faculty had to be obtained. This was granted, but only on the condition that all the properties acquired in recent years by the church should be licensed in mortmain; therefore the faculty did not issue until July 1914, (fn. 36) as the licence in mortmain (fn. 37) was not granted until the year before. It included not only licence to the rector for the time being to hold in perpetuity the premises already acquired and also those now intended to be acquired, but also some that it may be desired to acquire in the future. The deed of exchange, carrying out the above agreement, was finally executed in August 1914. (fn. 38)

The purchasers of Cockerill's Buildings and Pope's Cottages were Messrs. Israel & Oppenheimer, who began their building operations for the erection of a large and lofty warehouse in June 1912. Cockerill's Buildings covered the remains of the chapter-house, of the slype, of the prior's house, and of other monastic buildings; and as the excavations were carried to a depth of 8 ft., the walls of these were all exposed (fn. 39) in turn. At the west end of the chapter-house the great arched entrance from the cloister was discovered with the usual arched opening on either side. In the centre of the floor was found a stone coffin, supposed to be that of Prior Thomas; (fn. 40) also twelfth, thirteenth, and fifteenth century work from the chapter-house, bosses from the cloister, a kneeling figure of a canon carved on what had been the left arm of the prior's chair in the chapter-house, and many interesting fragments which have been laid out in the cloister. All such fragments were presented to the church by Messrs. Israel & Oppenheimer, to accommodate whom, and on payment of £30, the iron fence at the north-east angle of their premises was slightly set back, (fn. 41) and on payment of £300 they were allowed to raise one portion of their building another story. (fn. 42)

The whole of the land abutting on the south side of the church now being in the hands of the church authorities, steps were at once taken to free it from encroachments which were a source of danger from fire. It was decided to demolish the girls' school-house and vestryroom on the south side; but the old boys' school-house on the north side it was decided, on the recommendation of the architect, to repair and leave unoccupied. (fn. 43) It was also decided to remove the furnace from beneath the girls' school-house on the site of the south chapel to the open area at the north-east end of the church in front of the old boys' school, at a cost, with the repairs to the old boys' schoolhouse, of £675. (fn. 44)

It had been resolved in July 1912 to erect clergy and choir vestries of one story only on the site of the south chapel, which were to extend eastward as far as the steps leading to the schools; (fn. 45) but the demolition of the girls' school-house had revealed so much of the walls of the two apses, that it was decided to erect instead a choir vestry only upon the ancient walls of the chapel, so as to retain the interesting plan of the chapel, and to expose to view what remained of its walls. It was also decided that the clergy should use as a vestry the room on the site of the north chapel, and the rooms in the old boys' schoolhouse as a sacristy. A further advantage of this scheme was that the cost would be reduced from £1,600 to £500. Mr. G. Duckworth Atkin then came forward and offered to erect the choir vestry on the south side at his own expense, an offer that was gladly accepted. (fn. 46) This work was carried out in the first half of the following year, and the choir vestry was ready for opening when the Great European War broke out. The dedication ceremony, therefore, did not take place until the 9th June 1915, when it was performed by the Bishop of London (Dr. Winnington-Ingram) in the presence of the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs.

At the same time as the choir vestry was being built in 1913 it was necessary to deal with the south wall of the church, exposed by the demolition of the girls' school-house and of Pope's Cottages, and also with the newly acquired land. An appeal for £1,500 was therefore sent out in June to defray the cost of this work, and also to install electric lighting, to adopt a fire protection in the form of drenchers for the church, and for improving the heating system. The response by the end of the year was £1,000, but as this was not sufficient—even with the prospect of obtaining £400 from the extraordinary repairs fund (standing to the credit of the church under the City of London Parochial Charities Act)—it was determined to postpone the electric lighting and alterations of the heating apparatus and to abandon the drenchers (upon the utility of which opinion was divided), and to accept a tender of £553 for dealing with the south wall, the new land acquired, and for the opening of the doorway at the east end of the north aisle. (fn. 47)

As this work progressed many difficulties arose, such as the necessity of two new buttresses at the south-east portion of the church, further treatment of the south wall, which had been severely damaged by the fire of 1830, the opening of the ancient entrance to the sacristy, &c. These works involved an additional charge of over £260, (fn. 48) leaving the committee with that amount still to find. During the work the lower part of the walls of the northern end of the prior's house were exposed, together with an entrance doorway; there were also found the latrine coming down from Dr. Mirfield's chamber in the triforium, granted him in 1362, (fn. 49) a fourteenth-century incised and other sepulchral slabs, and the seventeenth-century poor box, now shown in the cloister.

In December of 1914 the Corporation, having purchased the old Elizabethan houses in Cloth Fair, proceeded to pull them down. No. 9, at right angles to the rest, abutted on the only remaining bay of the nave of the church, and its removal revealed the twelfth-century arch of the ground arcade and of the triforium. It also revealed a thirteenth-century clerestory window, with a curious small window beside it (2 ft. by 1 ft.), and the arch of the thirteenth-century nave aisle penetrating the floor of the triforium. There were two wide gaping cracks in the wall, which was generally in a dilapidated condition, necessitating an immediate expenditure of about £140. This caused a deficit in the funds of £400 in all; but, with a further £100 from the extraordinary repairs fund, this was all cleared off by the following September (1915).

But then another cause of expenditure arose. On September 8th several incendiary bombs and one high explosive bomb were dropped by a German Zeppelin on Bartholomew Close (pl. XCVII). The church was mercifully spared, with the exception of slight damage to the clerestory windows, but on the advice of the architect Rahere's tomb was protected against a further raid with sandbags piled in the front and at the back of the monument, and by a thick layer of sand on the triforium floor above. The cost of this was £99, which was mainly met by subscriptions from the Governors of the Hospital. (fn. 50) After a time, owing to the decay of some of the bags, many of them fell, involving a further charge of £32. The Mildmay monument was also protected, though to a less extent, the cost of which was defrayed as to half by Emmanuel College, Cambridge (of which Sir Walter Mildmay was the founder), and as to the other half by the Mildmay family.

On the 7th July 1917, at half-past ten in the morning, the Close was again attacked from the air by many German aeroplanes, the sad effect of which has already been described. (fn. 51)

We have already chronicled the demolition of the old houses at the east end of Cloth Fair in March of the same year (1917). (fn. 52) The scheme is to continue Middle Street westward in a direct line to the north porch of the church. The Corporation were approached with the view of keeping open for all time the land lying between the new road and the Lady Chapel, and with that object an exchange was effected whereby the rector and churchwardens gave up a narrow strip of land in Red Lion Passage and another by the old school-house in Back Court, and then on the payment of a nominal sum the Corporation conveyed the necessary land to the rector and churchwardens, which, by a covenant in the deed, (fn. 53) they are 'for ever hereafter to leave open and unbuilt upon'.

At this time, on May 3rd, Mr. Alfred Frewin, a liberal contributor to the Restoration Fund, died. He bequeathed a legacy to the rector and churchwardens of £2,000, to ensure the preservation and enhance the dignity of the church, but with the expressed wish that more particularly and as far as possible the money should be expended in the purchase of any land and demolition of any buildings in the immediate vicinity of the church to ensure its preservation. It is considered that this great improvement and a continuation of it westward will comply entirely with the donor's wish.

In March 1918 an offer was made to the restoration committee to acquire the remaining five or six bays of the east walk of the cloister on the expiration of the existing lease in 1926 for the sum of £2,000. The committee did not feel justified in appealing for so large a sum during the war, but after the armistice was signed, on the 11th of November 1918, an appeal was issued which resulted in a response of £900, which justified the committee in proceeding with the purchase, and the site of the cloister was secured with possession in 1922 instead of 1926. It is believed that the entrance to the slype, to that of the chapter-house, and to the dorter stair will all be exposed when excavations can be made.

In 1919 the organ was reported to be in so bad a condition that it required no less a sum than £5,000 to be expended to make it fit for the musical services of the church. As there were already appeals out for the cloister and the schools, the rector undertook to raise what he could by means of lantern lectures on the church both in London and in the country. A great effort worthy of success.

Other valuable presents have been made to the church during Rector Sandwith's time: thus, in 1912 the former west porch was enclosed with an ancient oak door of the church (from which the paint had been cleaned), whereby a great risk from fire was removed; this was the gift of Mr. G. Duckworth Atkin. (fn. 54) Mr. Atkin also gave the show case in the cloister, (fn. 55) for the better exhibition of such interesting objects as the sandal from Rahere's tomb, Prior Perrin's seal, the MS. book by the same prior (presented by the Rev. E. S. Dewick in 1906), (fn. 56) the bosses from the cloister presented by Mr. Paul Thomas White in 1912, (fn. 57) and fragments of late twelfth-century work, and other things. In 1908 a valuable set of some 29 plans made for the restoration of 1864 (fn. 58) was presented by Mr. F. H. Reed through the instrumentality of Mr. Phené Spiers, F.S.A.; a similar set at the same time being presented to the Victoria and Albert Museum. (fn. 59) In 1910 there was presented, by a friend of the rector, the oil painting of the Madonna and Child with St. Elizabeth (already mentioned), (fn. 60) which now hangs above the Lady Altar.

The restoration executive committee lost by death during this time four valuable members: Mr. James Hilton, a zealous worker, who died in 1907; Capt. F. A. Phillips, the patron, who died in 1908; (fn. 61) and Sir F. D. Dixon-Hartland, Bart., M.P., the hon. treasurer, and Sir William Boord, both of whom died in 1912; (fn. 62) all were liberal contributors to the work. Mr. Clifford Parker resigned in 1913, (fn. 63) on relinquishing his position as organist to the church, which he had held for many years. The committee had greatly benefited by his sound legal advice on many occasions. The committee was strengthened by the election of Mr. H. Wilson Holman, F.S.A., and Mr. W. H. Irons (fn. 64) in 1909, by Mr. G. Duckworth Atkin in 1912, and Mr. C. J. Benson, C.C., and the late Mr. Philip E. Webb (son of the architect) in 1915. (fn. 65) Dr. Luke Paget, the Bishop of Stepney, joined the general committee in 1914. (fn. 66)

The church and the writer suffered a great loss in the death of Mr. John Hope (fn. 67) on the 16th October 1912. He was for twenty-four years verger of the church. He was appointed parish clerk by Rector Savory (fn. 68) in 1902, and was Master of the Parish Clerks' Company at the time of his death. He was the Correspondent and Secretary of the Parochial Schools. He was gifted with great power of exactness, whereby he soon learned to read both the cursive Elizabethan hand and also the court-hand writing of the various centuries, and was thus able to transcribe with great accuracy records of the church from the Latin Rolls in the Record Office, from the MSS. in the British Museum, from the Episcopal Registers at St. Paul's, and from the Mediaeval Wills at Somerset House, all of which was done in his own time for the purpose of this work.

As regards the vestry, their duties were still further curtailed at this time by the City of London Union of Parishes Act (fn. 69) of 1907, which came into operation on the 1st April 1908. By it the hundred and more City parishes were extinguished as separate rating authorities, and the City was constituted one parish with one set of overseers, and the parochial boundaries became areas merely for ecclesiastical convenience. The City thereby became the sole authority for rating, valuation, and Parliamentary registration. All rates levied within the City boundaries are now collected and administered under the Corporation authority. The wards, ward motes, aldermen, and common council and ward officers are not, however, affected.


  • 1. V. M. Bk. x, 570.
  • 2. Rest. M. Bk. iii, 21.
  • 3. Ib., 30.
  • 4. Ib., 40.
  • 5. Ib., 42.
  • 6. Ib., 54.
  • 7. Ib., 25.
  • 8. Ib., 46.
  • 9. V. M. Bk. x, 572.
  • 10. Parish Safe, Deed 110, 29 Sept. 1907.
  • 11. Above, p. 65.
  • 12. Rest. M. Bk. ii, 226.
  • 13. Ib. ii, 53.
  • 14. For extract from History of the Gate, see App. II, p. 555.
  • 15. V. M. Bk. x, 590.
  • 16. Above, p. 212.
  • 17. Parish Safe, Deed 121, 6 Apr. 1910.
  • 18. App. II, p. 554.
  • 19. Rest. M. Bk. iii, 62.
  • 20. Ib.
  • 21. Parish Safe, Deeds 125, 121, 127; Rest. M. Bk. iii, 60.
  • 22. Rest. M. Bk. iii, 59.
  • 23. Ib., 62.
  • 24. Above, p. 68.
  • 25. Ib., p. 68.
  • 26. V. M. Bk. x, 577, Apr. 1907.
  • 27. Rest. M. Bk. ii, 240.
  • 28. Ib., 256.
  • 29. Ib., 265.
  • 30. Ib. iii, 2.
  • 31. Parish Safe, Deed 135; Rest. M. Bk. iii, 63.
  • 32. Archaeologia, lxiv, 169, 13 Feb. 1913.
  • 33. Rest. M. Bk. iii, 69.
  • 34. Archaeologia, lxiv, 171.
  • 35. Parish Safe, Deed 143, 17 July 1910; Archaeologia, lxiv, 172.
  • 36. Parish Safe, Deed 144; 7 July 1914.
  • 37. Ib., Deed 142, 14 May 1913.
  • 38. Ib., Deed 145, 28 Aug. 1914.
  • 39. Archaeologia, lxiv, 173 et seq.
  • 40. As stated p. 146 above.
  • 41. V. M. Bk. x, 610, Apr. 1912; Parish Safe, Deed 134, 19 July 1912.
  • 42. V. M. Bk., 611; Parish Safe, Deed 136, 20 Nov. 1912.
  • 43. Rest. M. Bk. iii, 65, 12 July 1912.
  • 44. Ib., 67, 27 May 1913.
  • 45. Ib., 64.
  • 46. Ib., 68, 27 May 1913.
  • 47. Rest. M. Bk. iii, 71, 28 Nov. 1913.
  • 48. Ib., 74, 15 Dec. 1914.
  • 49. See Vol. I, p. 173.
  • 50. Rest. M. Bk. iii, 78.
  • 51. Above, p. 362.
  • 52. Above, p. 233.
  • 53. Dated 18 Feb. 1918: Parish Safe, D. 162.
  • 54. Rest. M. Bk. iii, 62.
  • 55. Above, p. 141.
  • 56. Rest. M.Bk. iii, 63.
  • 57. Ib., 62.
  • 58. Parish Safe, Plans, Roll No. 32.
  • 59. Ib. iii, 45.
  • 60. V. M. Bk. x, 601.
  • 61. Rest. M. Bk. iii, 45.
  • 62. Ib., 62.
  • 63. Ib. iii, 66.
  • 64. Ib., 56.
  • 65. Ib., 80.
  • 66. Rest. M. Bk., 74.
  • 67. Already referred to.
  • 68. V. M. Bk. x, 531.
  • 69. 7 Edw. VII, cap. cxl, 21 Aug. 1907.