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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch XVIII. 1820-1824

Ch. I. 1747-1752
Ch. II. 1752-1761
Ch. III. 1761-1765
Ch. IV. 1765-1766
Ch. V. 1767-1771
Ch. VI. 1771
Ch. VII. 1771-1776
Ch. VIII. 1771-1776
Ch. IX. 1776-1777
Ch. X. 1779-1786
Ch. XI. 1779-1786
Ch. XII. 1779-1786
Ch. XIII. 1780-1782
Ch. XIV. 1786-1789
Ch. XV. 1786-1790
Ch. XVI. 1776-1790
Ch. XVII. 1787
Ch. XVIII. 1789
Ch. XIX. 1790-1792
Ch. XX. 1791-1792
Ch. XXI. 1791-1796
Ch. XXII. 1794-1795
Ch. XXIII. 1794
Ch. XXIV. 1794-1800
Ch. XXV. 1794-1800
Ch. XXVI. 1800-1803
Ch. XXVII. 1801-1803
Ch. XXVIII. 1800-1807
Vol. II Contents
Ch I. 1800-1807
Ch II. 1807-1810
Ch III. 1809
Ch IV. 1809-1812
Ch V. 1810-1813
Ch VI. 1811-1815
Ch VII. 1812-1815
Ch VIII. 1816-1820
Ch IX. 1816-1820
Ch X. 1816-1820
Ch XI. 1816-1820
Ch XII. 1816-1820
Ch XIII. 1816-1820
Ch XIV. 1819
Ch XV. 1820-1821
Ch XVI. 1816-1820
Ch XVII. 1820-1824
‣ Ch XVIII. 1820-1824
Ch XIX. 1820-1824
Ch XX. 1820-1825
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Produced by CATH
A.D. 1820—1824.
Dr. Parr as a village-pastor—His attention to the repair and improvement of his church—Its beautiful painted window—destroyed by a hurricane—replaced by a second window—Additional painted windows—Dr. Parr’s love of bells—A new peal put up in his church—Letters on the subject to Mr. Roscoe, and Mr. Postle—The body of the church rebuilt—Dr. Parr’s careful management of the charities belonging to his parish—His attention to the temporal as well as spiritual welfare of his parishioners—May-day at Hatton.

Dr. Parr was a strenuous advocate, not only for decency and solemnity, but for pomp and splendour, in the construction of religious edifices, and in all that relates to the celebration of religious worship. Such pomp and splendour, he thought, speak powerfully, through the senses and the imagination, to the heart. “What!” he would often ask, “is it possible not to feel the heightened effect of devotional services, performed, with all due state, amidst the awful grandeur of a large and magnificent cathedral?” Those vast and stately piles, reared by the piety of our ancestors, were to him the objects of the most enthusiastic admiration and delight; and he often gazed with ecstasies of pleasure on the beautiful engravings of these and other ecclesiastical buildings, which he possessed. He greatly applauded the care of modern times to provide for the accommodation of an increasing population, by the erection of so
many spacious and handsome churches; some of them not unworthy to be compared with the noble and venerable structures of former ages. Writing to his friend,
Mr. Nichols, he thus expresses himself:—“I am glad that you have engraved the views of the cathedrals; and I should be transported with joy, if, for the honour of the Protestant cause, and of the established church, the parliament would vote twenty millions for erecting a sacred edifice, which, in magnitude and grandeur, should surpass St. Peter’s! Though an obscure country parson, I would contribute 200l. or 300l. on such an occasion.”

Strongly impressed with these feelings, Dr. Parr was always carefully attentive, not only to the proper repairs, but to the suitable embellishment, of the church, in which, for so many years, he was the officiating minister. This, at his first settlement in the parish, was a small structure of humble appearance; neither in its exterior or interior ever touched by the hand of improvement; and barely protected from the decays or injuries of time and the weather. But, under his fostering care, it gradually assumed a new and a different aspect; and is now one of the most commodious and handsome of country churches.

His improvements began with the building of a vestry; in which, among other uses of it, he was accustomed to take his pipe, before commencing, and after closing the service, and even during the intervals of it. This was followed by a plan for improving and adorning the chancel, ultimately with a view of forming in it a mausoleum for him-
self and his family: on which occasion the talents of the late
Mr. Eginton, of Birmingham, were called into exercise. By this distinguished artist, a beautiful painted window was executed, consisting of three compartments: “the Crucifixion,” in the centre; “St. Peter” on one side, and “St. Paul” on the other. Grievous to relate, during a stormy night, in the month of November, 1810, this beautiful window was blown into the interior of the church, and dashed to pieces!

Though “agonized,” as he said, by this great misfortune, Dr. Parr had yet the spirit to set about instantly repairing the mischief, by giving orders for a new window; which was accordingly executed by the son of the former artist, whose performance, it is no small praise to say, is little inferior in merit to that of his father. It consists of three compartments, of which the subjects and arrangements are the same as in the former window. In addition to these, are introduced into the side windows “The agony in the garden” and “the Ascension.” Suspended against the walls, are whole-length oil-paintings of Moses and Aaron. In the body of the church, too, the windows are adorned with painted glass. In one, appears the head of “Cranmer,” the founder of the English church, and its reformer from popery; and in another, that of “Tillotson,” the faithful guardian of the same church, and its preserver, when in danger of relapsing into the errors it had renounced. A third window is also filled with painted glass, brought from the cathedral at Orleans, representing a group of ancient patriarchs and prophets, the gift of Mrs. Price, of
Bagginton Hall; and in a fourth window, are three figures, unknown, or, at least, undescribed.

In a letter to Mr. Roscoe, dated Hatton, November 11, 1818, soliciting subscriptions towards repairing the loss of his first window—in which, it hardly need be added, he was successful—Dr. Parr writes:—

“Now, dear sir, I shall so far confide in your most valuable and long-tried good-will towards me, as to state some particulars, in which I am much interested. You know that I am exceedingly intent upon the decoration of my village-church, and that I have expended upon it large sums of my own, and have sometimes troubled you and my other friends for contributions to it. Whatever share may be assigned to whim or singularity, in this solicitude for the ornaments of a place of worship, I shall without difficulty gain credit from a man of your discernment, when I tell you that my exertions have been accompanied by very favourable effects on the minds, and on the manners, and on the morals of my parishioners. They hear from me, not mystical or controversial, but plain, earnest, practical discourses. They hear them with greater pleasure, because the house of worship is endeared to them by the improvements I have made in it. In 1794, I put up a costly and beautiful painted window, of three compartments, at the east end of my church. They delighted me and my flock. They attracted the notice of neighbours and of strangers. They produced, for the artist, some lucrative employment, at Oxford and at other places. This window was, on the 11th of
this month, shattered to pieces by a violent hurricane. Never shall I enter into the church with a composed mind till the window is restored; and I have determined to restore it. I shall have, in one compartment, “the Transfiguration;” in the middle, “the Crucifixion;” and in the third, “the Ascension.”1 Without scrutinising the faith of men of taste, I am sure that they would have been charmed with the picture of the Crucifixion, which was lately destroyed. I hope that you will like the substitution of “the Transfiguration” and “the Ascension” for the two large figures of Peter and Paul. But I think it somehow unkind, and even heterodox, to turn the two apostolical worthies out of church; and, therefore, I shall put smaller figures of them into two windows. I have agreed to give 150l. for the eastern window, and 24l. for the two side windows; and I calculate the incidental expenses at 10l. or 12l. I feel very little difficulty in expressing my earnest hope that you will favour me with a contribution. Like other ecclesiastical zealots, I am a sturdy beggar in the cause of the church; and I hope that, in spite of all their heretical prejudices,
Mr. Martin, Mr. Shepherd, and Dr. Crompton, will, upon this occasion, make their peace with the hierarchy, and show their good-will to me, by contributing to the restoration of the window. If they should raise any objection, upon the score of doctrine or discipline; I must desire you to undertake the office of disputant, and to beat down their impious cavils. If you cannot convince, you may at least persuade; and per-

1 A different arrangement was afterwards made.

suasion will be satisfactory to me, as a true member of the priesthood, if it be accompanied with some pecuniary advantage to the mother-church. I am, &c.—

S. Parr.”

Other appendages, useful or ornamental, for which Hatton Church is indebted to the liberality of Dr. Parr, or, through his influence, to that of his friends, are, the parish-clock; the splendid decorations of the pulpit and the altar; the service of plate for the communion-table, and the organ. This last was introduced into the public service in August 1818: on which occasion, Dr. Parr preached a long and learned discourse; tracing the origin and the progress of sacred music, and showing its pleasing and useful application to the purposes of religious worship.

But of all his improvements, none gave him a higher degree of satisfaction than the recasting of the parish-bells, with the addition of a new one; and these were so well tuned, that he often boasted they were the most musical peal in Warwickshire. From his youth he was fond of bells; and frequently rang them for his own amusement.1 The friends, accustomed to visit him on Sundays, have often observed the extreme pleasure with which, sitting in his parlour in a summer’s evening—his windows open—he would listen to the sounds of his own bells, as they were wafted over the fields, in front of his house, “now, in sweet cadence, dying away,” and “now, pealing loud again, and louder still.” On such occasions, he would remain

1Jones’s Clavis Campanalogia, or a Key to the Art of Ringing.—A favourite book. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 478.

for some time silent and motionless, his eyes upraised, his countenance fixed, as if wholly absorbed in the delightful sensations which the distant harmony created.

His love of music of this kind led him to study the whole history of bells, from the period of their first introduction into the Christian church, about the sixth century, and to investigate the various uses, rational or superstitious, to which they have been applied. Persons, who introduced the subject in conversation, were surprised to witness the ease and accuracy with which, in answer to a sudden inquiry, he could tell the number, weight, names, and qualities, of almost all the principal bells in England, and even in Europe.

In the Bibliotheca Parriana,1 added to “Magii de tintinnabulis,” &c., is the following note:—“This learned work was written by Magius, whilst he was working as a slave in a quarry in Turkey. Dr. Parr bought and read the book, while he lived in Colchester. He has since met with only one learned book, on the subject of bells. He found it in the copious and curious library at Shrewsbury, and borrowed it with the leave of the learned master, Dr. Butler. He, for many years, made inquiries for it among many booksellers; but they knew nothing of it.”2

1 Page 479.

2 Dr. Parr calls this work a great curiosity; and gives its title, of which part is as follows:—“Abb. Jo. Bapt. Paccichelli Xti. ex Regali Parlhenopæo Theologorum Collegio de Tintinnabulo Nolano Lucubratio Autumnalis,” &c.—Bibl. Parr. p. 479.


Of his own fondness for bells, and his proficiency in the art of ringing, he boasts, in the following extract of a letter to Mr. Roscoe, dated Hatton, July 20, 1807.

“I shall take my chance for your smiles, or your frowns, in what I am going to add. As a teacher of religion, I never touch upon mysteries, and always cry down intolerance. But with great caution about doctrines, I have great zeal and great love for ceremonies, which are not gaudy nor burdensome; which have no connexion, even to the imagination, with doubtful and unprofitable controversies; which captivate the senses, and inspire common observers with piety, or at least with a sense of decorum. This opinion I have carried into practice very successfully with my rustic hearers; and for that purpose I have frequently expended large sums of my own money, and large contributions from my friends and pupils, in the decoration of my parish-church. Now I am preparing to close my labours, by assisting to get a new and enlarged set of bells. It so happens that from my youth upwards, even to this hour, I have been a distinguished adept in the noble art of ringing; that I have equal delight with Milton in the sound of bells; that I have far superior knowledge, in the science of casting them; and that my zeal for accomplishing my favourite project is very great. I hope, my dear sir, you will not be displeased with me for saying that, in the list of my subscribers, I shall be very proud and very happy to put down the illustrious name of Mr. Roscoe, &c. S. P.”


On the same subject, he writes in a letter to another friend, John Postle, Esq. of Colney, near Norwich; by whose obliging permission the following extracts are here inserted:—

“My peal of bells is come. It cost a great sum of money; and as I want to pay the founder, I take the liberty of requesting, that you will have the goodness to forward the contribution, which you promised me; and which I ask with great boldness, when I am pleading in favour of my improved parish-church, and of my parishioners, who are endeared to me, as a sort of family; and whose present and future interests are most important to me. I believe that my Norwich friends would have honoured me, as a country parson, if they had seen the harmless but animated festivity of my village, on Friday last. A new tenor bell had been given them by my pupils, my friends, and myself: and we have no inconsiderable share in the charges of some of the old bells, which have been recast and enlarged. My orthodoxy has endowed all of them with scriptural appellations. The great bell has inscribed upon it the name of Paul; and is now lying upon our green. It holds more than seventy-three gallons. It was filled with good ale, and was emptied, too, on Friday last. More than three hundred of my parishioners, young and old, rich and poor, assembled: and their joy was beyond description. I gave some rum for the farmers’ wives; and some Vidonia and elder wine for their daughters: and the lads and lasses had a merry dance in a large school-room. Now, as the apostle Paul preached a famous sermon
at Athens, I thought it right that his namesake should preach also at Hatton: and the sermon was divided into the following heads—‘May it be late before the great bell tolls, for a funeral knoll, even for the oldest person here present!’—‘may the whole peal ring often, and merrily, for the unmarried!’—‘may the lads make haste to get wives, and the lasses to get husbands, and hear the marriage peal!’—Now, was not that a good sermon?—and of more use than what we often hear from the pulpit, in the fast-day harangues of time-serving priests, the mystical subtleties of furious polemics, and the hypocritical cant of methodistical fanatics?—I am, &c. S. Parr. Hatton, July 3d, 1809.”

But all his other improvements must yield in importance to the plan proposed and adopted in 1822; which was no less than to take down the body of the church, and to rebuild it on a more enlarged scale. The design was well formed and well executed; and the whole expense was defrayed partly by the contributions of Dr. Parr’s friends, and chiefly by sums advanced by himself.

Hatton church, seated on a gentle eminence, in the midst of retired fields, as it now appears, is a structure of considerable size, and presents a handsome exterior. It is commodiously fitted up, and splendidly adorned within. It consists of a strong square tower at the west end; a chancel; a spacious nave; one aisle in the middle, and pews on each side. By a judicious arrangement, worthy to be adopted in every place of worship, instead of the old plan of double pews, by which one half
the congregation are placed with their backs towards the officiating minister, single pews only are admitted: which, being all of equal width, and forming regular parallel lines, present, in their appearance, a pleasing uniformity, and bring the whole audience full before the view of the speaker, in a manner peculiarly striking and animating to him, and much to the advantage of his hearers. The light, admitted into the interior, through the painted glass of the windows, is exactly of that kind which the great epic poet of England so happily terms “dim religious light;” and an air of soft and composed solemnity reigns through the whole, such as is usually considered most propitious to the exercises and to all the serious sentiments of devotion. Round the wall both of the chancel and the nave are numerous monumental tablets; of which the inscriptions are many of them in Latin, and almost all of them the production of the late learned deputy curate. Painted on boards, in large letters, and loftily suspended, are the following sentences:—“Fear God.”—“Honour the King.”—“Love one another.”—“Faith.”—“Hope.”—“Charity.”—“The greatest of these is charity.”

On the 5th of October, 1823, this newly-erected edifice, as it might almost be termed, was opened for divine service; when vast numbers assembled themselves from all parts of the surrounding neighbourhood, and the church was crowded to excess. A sermon, adapted to the occasion, from the text Lev. xix. 30, “Ye shall reverence my sanctuary,” was composed by Dr. Parr; but the office of
preacher was assigned to the
Rev. T. M. Deighton, at that time assistant minister of St. Mary’s, Warwick; and most impressively was the discourse delivered by him. This gentleman had recently exchanged the military for the clerical profession; and, though without the advantage of a learned education, yet, guided by correctness of moral feeling, animated by ardour of religious sentiment, and aided by extraordinary powers of elocution, he succeeded in conducting the services of the church with powerful effect; and promised, in no long time, to become one of its most distinguished and acceptable readers and preachers. But, to the deep regret of his numerous friends and admirers, the course of his present, and all the hopes of his future usefulness were too soon terminated. Early in 1825 his health began to decline; and at Madeira, whither he went for the benefit of a milder climate, he died, in March 1826.

Among other important objects, which engaged the attention of Dr. Parr, as the faithful pastor of Hatton, were the proper management and application of its charitable fund; some of which are of considerable amount. One bequest, which had been lost to the parish for thirty-six years, was by his exertions recovered, and, by his care, trebled in value. Another bequest, appropriated to the purchasing of clothes for the poor, was made to produce, in nearly a threefold proportion, more than formerly. A third, left for the repairs of the church, which had been grossly misapplied, was rescued from the hands of improper persons, and placed in those of trustees; under whose di-
rection it has been increased in its value, and strictly devoted to the purposes for which it was originally intended.

With the character of their instructor and their guardian, Dr. Parr united, in his conduct towards his parishioners, the kind feelings of the father and the friend. He inspired their reverence by the eminence of his learning and the celebrity of his name: he engaged their esteem and gratitude by the ardour of his concern, and the constancy of his efforts, for their temporal and spiritual good: he conciliated their warm affection by the benignity of his temper, and the condescension of his manners. Without lowering, or, at least, without losing his dignity, he encouraged them to talk to him with freedom and familiarity; he entered, with lively interest, into their great and their little affairs; and participated with them in all their cares, their joys, and their sorrows. The humblest man in the parish, even the beggar passing along the road, (the writer testifies what he has seen,) could, at almost any time, gain admission to his presence, and was sure to obtain from him a favourable hearing. He was glad to advise, to aid, and to relieve, whensoever his advice, his protection, or his bounty was solicited or needed. Especially to the last solemn office of visiting the sick and dying, he was anxiously attentive; administering to them, not with the coldness of mere form, but with the emotion of deep sympathy, the services and the consolations of religion. But whilst thus devoted to the higher duties which the pastor owes to his parishioners, he used to say, it was also his
duty, and all would say it was his delight, to see and to promote their temporal comforts, and even their harmless pleasures.

There was one happy day in the year, marked, with peculiar distinction, in the annals of Hatton parish. This was May-day; on which a rural fête was given, under the auspices of the reverend pastor himself; who, on principles which might almost be called moral, was friendly, in a high degree, to those amusements, which draw men together “with smiling faces and merry hearts,” as he phrased it, for the purpose of giving and receiving pleasure. It was a fixed opinion, in his mind, that, above all other means, social entertainments are the most effectual for promoting kind feeling and good-will among men and neighbours. He often said that, in nine instances out of ten, where persons are divided from each other, by disesteem or dislike, only bring them together—let them know each other—and from that moment they are friends. Impressed with these sentiments, he always marked with his approbation, and often encouraged by his presence, balls, concerts, races, theatrical exhibitions, fairs, clubs, and other social meetings; those, especially, in which the high and the low associate and come into communion with each other. Though he strongly pleaded for the rights and the honours of the privileged orders; yet he insisted that such distinctions are carried, in this country, much too far; and that if the higher classes would bend down, and the lower look up, more, the result in checking the undue pride of the one, and encouraging the pro-
per confidence of the other, would be beneficial to all.

With these views chiefly, it was that, reviving a pleasant custom of olden times, Dr. Parr used, for many years, to invite the rich and the poor of his neighbourhood to meet together, in friendly intercourse, on the day on which, formerly, as old John Stow tells, “every man, except impediment, would early in the morning walk into the sweet meadows and green woods; there to rejoice their spirits with the beauty and savour of sweet flowers, and with the harmony of birds, praising God in their kind;”—“whilst the after-part of the day was spent in dancing round a may-pole; which, being placed in a convenient part of the village, stands there, as it were, consecrated to the Goddess of Flowers, without the least violation offered to it, in the whole circle of the year.”

About two hundred yards from Hatton parsonage, are seen, on the opposite side of the road, a cottage or two, overtopped by a few aged and lofty firs, which throw their shades over a small green; and this was the chosen spot, where a may-pole, tall and straight as a ship’s mast, was erected, and is still left standing, “without the least violation offered to it;” the memorial of a social and joyful day, gone by, perhaps never to return. Here, on the expected morn, the early villagers repaired, and the preparations commenced. A sufficient space, boarded and roped round, was provided for the dancing; and the naked may-pole soon received its appropriate adornings of flowers, some natural, some artificial, all fancifully formed
into garlands, and tastefully decorated with ribands. The company invited were the sons and daughters of the neighbouring farmers and tradesmen, the young ladies and gentlemen of the surrounding towns and villages, and many of the visitants from Leamington. These were greatly augmented in number by others, who came, uninvited, as spectators of the scene.

Soon after the hour of noon, the music struck up, and the dancing began. All was mirth and joy; pleasure brightly shone in many a rustic countenance; whilst those of higher grade seemed to throw off all reserve, and to join, with light step, and heart as light, in the amusements of the day. Dressed in his clerical habits, the delighted pastor was every where to be seen, bustling about amidst the happy crowds; gay as the gayest; shaking hands with one, chatting with another; greeting, with smiles and merry jests, the rosyfaced girls he met, or archly inquiring after their absent friends and favourites. Wherever he went, he was sure to be received with the welcome of looks, and words, and gestures, which showed that he was as much beloved as respected.

About the hour of three, dinner was usually announced, and the summons joyfully obeyed. The female part of the company were entertained at the parsonage, where a cold but abundant repast was prepared; whilst the male visitants were left, from the want of room, to provide for themselves, at the village inn. But the separation was of no long duration. Within little more than an hour, the whole company re-assembled; partners were
re-chosen; and many a mazy circle was again footed merrily round. The master of the rustic ceremonies soon appeared, pacing about as before; conversing with friends; scattering his playful wit amongst every little group he met, or watching the progress of the dancing—which, with a short interval allowed for tea, continued till nine o’clock—when, resuming his official dignity, he pronounced his good wishes of health and happiness to all, and closed the scene. In a few minutes all was quiet. Such is the history of a may-pole day at Hatton. Might not the example be recommended, as worthy of imitation, by every pastor of every village throughout the country?