Rectors of Christ Church, Hertford

Geoff Cordingley & Marilyn Taylor

The vicarage is in the top right with the church towards the bottom left between the railway and Port Vale
1897 OS Map

1869 – July 1906         Rev. Robert Rutland

July 1906 – January 1914        Rev Percy Edward Robson.  An entry in the school logbook for 29th January, 1914 states “The Rev. Percy Robson gave his last lesson in Holy Scripture to Class I and paid a farewell visit to the school.”  Percy paid two further visits to the school in June 1914 and November 1920.

Percy was born in Northampton in 1877 and he was baptised on 8th January 1877. His father William Henry Fairfax, was also a Clerk in Holy Orders being vicar of St Saviour’s Church, Birkenhead when Percy was a child. Percy came from a large family having at least four brothers and four sisters. Previously Percy had been a clergyman at St. Matthew’s Church, Rugby.  Percy died in 1952 in Melton Mowbray.

February 1914 – December 1917        Rev Montagu Sharpin Swatman was previously a clergyman at Kelshall Parish Church, Royston where his father Philip was vicar before him.  When he was in Hertford, Helen, his sister, lived in the manse.  She was a medical practitioner and sometimes examined the children at the school.  On 21st April 1926 Montagu then 53 years old married Grace, Evelyn, Agnes Robertson, 23 years his junior, in Willian, near Hitchin.  Montagu was rector of All Saints Church in the village.  Montagu died in 1938, aged 66, in Bournemouth.

January 1918 – 1920   Rev. Frederick Shippam  was born on 21st January, 1877 in Sheffield and on 23rd March he was baptised at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul.  His father, Samuel, was a confectioner in the town.  The family later moved to Onchan in the Isle of Man, where at the age of 14 Frederick was an office boy.  On 23 Feb 1908 Frederick married Fanny, Drusilla Sinclair in West Kirby, Cheshire.  From Hertford the family moved to Hornchurch in Essex and in 1939 Frederick was rector of All Saints’ Church Maldon.  He probably died at the age of 69 in 1946 in Lothingland, Suffolk.

1920 – 1927  FrederickThomas Des Barres was born in 1867 in Canada the son of  Rev Thomas C Des Barres of St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Toronto. His grandfather was also a Church of England minister in Canada.  He attended Toronto University where he gained a BA in 1889 and he went on to Ridley Hall Cambridge in 1892. He held posts at various parishes in England before returning to Canada.  Frederick was back in England in 1914 when he married Mary, Helen, Barbara Moule in 1914 in Erpingham, Norfolk and then returned to his parish in Canada .  Back in England he was appointed vicar of Christ Church.  In 1927 he became rector of Sacombe.  He retired to Norfolk where he died in 1948.

After the infant school was closed Christ Church continued and the following men were the vicars.  I am grateful to Marilyn Taylor for providing this information as well as the entry for Frederick Des Barres.

1927– 1936  Rev George Walmsley was born in Kingston upon Thames in1866 the son of Samuel Walmsley  a pharmaceutical chemist. Educated privately and at St Aidan’s College, Birkenhead, he followed in his father’s profession before his ordaination. George married his cousin Sarah Helen Walmsley in 1899 in Shardlow, Derbyshire. Before coming to Bengeo he was curate of St James, Toxteth, Liverpool and of St Paul’s Widnes and Vicar of Christ Church, Derby. Sarah died  on 19th February 1929 in Kensington, London and George  died on 10th May  1936  at Hertford County Hospital.

1936 -1950  Rev John Laker was born in 1900 in Islington to John and Elizabeth. His father was a teacher and lecturer in London and wrote the history of Deal in Kent, his hometown, published in 1917. When Rev Laker came to Bengeo his parents came with him and they all lived in the Vicarage where Elizabeth died in 1939 and John Snr. in 1940. Both are buried in Holy Trinity.

Rev John Laker was educated at University of London and London College of Divinity. He became a deacon in 1932 and priest in 1933. Among his parishes were Whitehall Park, North London and Clapham and  Lambeth South London. He came to Christ Church in 1936 and remained vicar until his death in 1950.

He married Edith Wood in 1939 and they had 2 children John and Elizabeth.

He died at Christ Church Vicarage on 11 March 1950 aged just 50.


1950-1956  Rev Ernest Lynn Hill was born on 18th September 1889 in Ranikhet, Uttaranchal, India. In 1911 he was a telegraphist with the Royal Engineers with the rank of Corporal. He married Maude Hull in India in 1913. During the First World War Ernest was a staff captain and he was decorated twice – Military Cross at Salonica and Distinguished Conduct Medal after the battle of Neuve Chapelle.

From 1935 to 1939 he was a missionary in India.

He was ordained deacon in 1944 and priest in 1945 in the diocese of Salisbury. He was curate of Fisherton Anger for 3 years and vicar of  Chilcompton, Somerset  before coming to Bengeo.

He had a keen interest in Youth work.

He died in 1981 in Essex.

1956 – 1967  Rev Francis Trevor Dufton.  Born on 26th March 1929 in Marylebone London the son of Brigadier and Mrs F G Dufton.  He was ordained Deacon in 1953 and Priest in 1954. He served as curate of Christ Church in Ware from 1953 to 1956 before he came to Christ Church in Bengeo where he was vicar from 1956 until just before it closed.

He married  Joan  Muriel Hyslop nee Bartle in 1960 in Sidcup, Kent. She was a widow with a young son.

He closed down the Christ Church Mothers Union in 1965, his reasons being falling membership as young people were not joining. He left in July 1967.  He died in 2005 in Eastbourne.

1967 Rev Bernard Nixon was the former chaplain of the William Baker Technical School at Goldings  and served the church after the Rev Dufton left. He too left the district in December 1967.

Christ Church was closed in May 1968 and was demolished in 1970.

This page was added on 31/05/2018.

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