about st george's church st george's news advertisers Waterlooville Music Festival
printer info
From the Vicar Women's World Day of Prayer Canon of the Cathedral Babs Chamberlain The Osmond Diaries News from the pews Book Corner Mothers' Union notes Canon Arthur Suffrin Who am I? The Vesica Piscis Crossword Puzzle time

St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Winter 2017 issue

Reminiscences of Canon Arthur Suffrin

by John Symonds: Part 1

When I began researching the history of St George’s in 1999 I had one piece of good fortune. Father Malcolm told me one day that a certain Canon Arthur Suffrin, who lived in Melksham in Wiltshire, had been in contact with him. He was 90 years old and the son of the Rev Aaron Emmanuel Suffrin, Vicar of St George’s from 1909-1926.

Naturally I wrote to Arthur Suffrin. He proved to be an exceptionally good correspondent. Despite his age he wrote me a series of wonderfully informative letters concerning his Father and his boyhood memories of the parish. Eventually I drove down to Melksham to meet him and we had a pub lunch together.

I recently rediscovered four of his letters in the drawer of my study desk. Some of the information I obviously included in my book and this can be read in Chapter 9, “The Old St George’s”. Some of his more personal stories I did not include in the book but a new generation of readers may find them interesting. In addition I have recently discovered more about Emmanuel Suffrin, mainly relating to a High Court case in  1926, which was widely reported in The Times and many other newspapers.

First though Arthur writes about his mother, the marriage of his parents and his birth in the Old Vicarage in 1909 just a few months after his Father had been inducted as Vicar.

“My mother (Amy) was a Sanger. Her grandfather had founded Sangers the manufacturing chemists in London which was a very successful enterprise until it was killed by Boots. The family lived in Weybridge and her Father and his sons commuted to London daily from Weybridge. My mother used to help the curate in charge of Portsman’s Park, the working class district down by the river, by playing the piano at his services and helping with the visiting. The curate was my Father. After they were married (April 19 1906 in St Martins-in-the-Fields) she also helped him indoors with his research work, learning Hebrew and Arabic script, so that she could read documents to him.

“On Christmas Day 1907 the Rector, Bull, gave my Father six months notice to quit on the grounds that he neglected parish work for his researches. The Bishop of Winchester was not pleased as he thought highly of my Father’s scholarship. He told him he planned to appoint him Vicar, Waterlooville, as it was such a small village that there would be little to do in the parish(!) And more time on his roses than in the parish. My Father ‘hung on’ in Weybridge until June 1908 when the Bishop got him a six  month locum in Hayling Island.

“My Father was inducted on January 1st 1909. It was a long bitterly cold winter and my pregnant Mother said she couldn’t face moving into the draughty and damp Old Vicarage in Waterlooville where the cellar was flooded every winter. So they stayed in Hayling until the end of March when the weather got better. My Father cycled along the lonely and snowy Havant Road every Saturday, put up at The Heroes for the weekend, and returned each Monday unless he had to stay for a Funeral. My Mother always said she wondered whether I would be born in Hayling, or along the Havant Road or in the Vicarage drive where they got stuck in the mud. In the end they got her to bed and I was duly born whilst my Father was taking a Holy Week service. And the people said to each other ‘I hear the Vicar has got a new Curate!’”

So Arthur arrived - to be joined later by a sister Jessy in 1912 and a brother Cyril in 1915.

to be continued