The Reverend Arthur Heigham
Arthur Linzee Chatterton Heigham was Rector of Englefield between 1885 and 1896, a time when the church was subject to a further round of significant change following the rebuilding of 1855-57. He also began the St Mark’s Local Sheet (an early Parish Magazine).
He was born on 23 March 1838 at Houghton Hall in Suffolk, the son of Capt George Thomas Heigham (4th Dragoon Guards) and Mary Anne Elizabeth Heigham. He was privately educated and went up to Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1856 where he was President of the Boat Club in 1858/9. He was awarded a BA in 1860 and an MA in 1872. In 1861 he attended Cuddesdon Theological College in Oxfordshire and was ordained as a Deacon at Oxford. He served as Canon at St Giles, Reading from 1861 to 1863 and was ordained as a priest in 1862.
He was curate at Englefield for six years in the early 1860s and usually returned for the Harvest Home festivities during the time he was Vicar of Newport Pagnell. He was subsequently Vicar of Totternhoe 1864-6; Vicar of Newport Pagnell 1866-75; Chaplain of All Saints School, Bloxham 1878-81 and again 1883-1885 when he was also Vice-Principal; Rector of Horringer and Ickworth 1881-83. He was well-liked at Bloxham where he was credited with instilling a system of discipline and order kindly administered and with an air about him that created an atmosphere of courtesy and gentleness. When he died the school magazine remembered him as someone who “derided the namby-pamby, Kensington-art craze, through which the middle classes were then passing. He could not bear sham, or cant, or humbug. His contempt for ‘crocodile tears’ was often expressed, more by a peculiar emphasis of the words themselves than by any long tirade; but there was never any misunderstanding about it. He liked boys to be boys, and though he had a dignified presence, and one would never think of taking a liberty with him, yet we all knew that he thoroughly understood the natural boy”.
He became Rector of Englefield in 1885 and lived initially at the Rectory but by May 1890 he had moved to “The Parsonage” (No 8/9 The Street, newly built). In his Local Sheet of May 1891 he notes that “The Assistant Mistresses are about to remove into No 5 to set free the Rectory Cottage for Mr Bligh’s Coachman and himself and family will we hope soon be settled in the Rectory”. As he was unmarried presumably this was a more economical arrangement. Mr Bligh lived in Englefield for only two or three years but Arthur Heigham seems to have remained at the Parsonage and his successor, the Revd H Savill Young, was accommodated there for a few weeks before moving to the Rectory with his family.
He was an assiduous chronicler of village life at that time and his parish magazines contain a wealth of information about the church, the school and everyday life in the village. When he went on holiday to various spas and seaside resorts, including Homburg in Germany, he continued to send in his copy, a simple matter today but not so easy then. He was a strong supporter of the temperance movement and the Primrose League, and obviously keen on bell-ringing, being a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths - the premier change ringing society in the City of London, founded in 1637.
Liturgically he was probably quite “High” and it was during his incumbency that the interior of the church acquired much decoration and he also presented several items of plate to the church including the pair of silver candlesticks still used on the altar today and some Communion items. In about 1867 when at Newport Pagnell he removed the Royal Arms from above the chancel arch because they signified the primacy of state over church but was forced to replace them after a public outcry of disapproval.
He resigned in 1896 and became Assistant Chaplain of St Paul’s, Cannes, France until 1898. This seems to have been his last appointment and in 1901 he lived in Torquay. After that he lived with his sister Mary Anne Eliza Heigham at his sister’s home Heather Mount, West End, Southampton where he died on 26 February 1914.
© 2021 Richard J Smith