South Luffenham - The Rectors and Other Notable Residents

The Rectors and Other Notable Residents

Robert Cawdrey, compiler of one of the first dictionaries of the English language, the Table Alphabeticall, became rector in 1571 but was deprived in 1587 for his puritan sympathies.

Owen Gwyn, Master of St John's College, Cambridge from 1612 and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge 1615-16, was instituted Rector 28 October 1611, remaining in office until his death in 1633.

Robert Scott, (1811–1887) the co-editor with Henry George Liddell of a Greek-English Lexicon, the standard dictionary of Ancient Greek, was rector here for four years before he was elected Master of Balliol College, Oxford in 1854. Balliol held the advowson from 1855 and many of the priests appointed were fellows of the college and noted scholars.

In 1867 promising 17-year-old poet Digby Mackworth Dolben drowned in the River Welland nearby when bathing with the son of his tutor, Rev. C. E. Prichard (1818–1869), rector of South Luffenham 1854–69.

George William Hudson Shaw (1859–1944) was Rector of South Luffenham from 1898 until 1907. As well as parson he was a famous travelling lecturer in the University Extension movement, and his work in adult education was recognised by the award of a fellowship of Balliol. Shaw also achieved success as a visiting lecturer in the United States, and during his time at South Luffenham he made three tours there. On his return from the last of these, in 1907, the boys of the village went down to the station to meet him and pulled a trap with him in it back to the rectory. The Rev. Hudson Shaw gave some of the fees he earned in America towards installing a new organ in the church; he also helped to raise funds to restore Sapcote (charity) Cottages, originally built as almshouses in 1857. He insisted that parishioners 'walked the bounds' to keep the footpaths open on each Rogation Day.

In 1901 Shaw met a young woman called Agnes Maude Royden, who was seeking a vocation. He brought her to live at South Luffenham rectory in 1902, and she worked in the village for a time as a parish assistant. Subsequently he supported her work as a public speaker, suffrage campaigner, and 'woman preacher'. She was an advocate of the ordination of women, and Shaw later caused controversy by allowing her to speak from his pulpit when he was rector of St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate in the City of London. In 1944 after the death of his wife, Hudson Shaw (at the age of 84) married Maude Royden; she told the story of their long and unusual relationship in a book called A Threefold Cord, published in 1947.

In 1908, The Rev. John Francis Richards succeeded the Rev. Shaw, and being a Greek scholar, pupils came from abroad to be taught at the rectory. Among these reputedly was the son of the German Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Hermann Göring. Indeed, on one of the panes of a lower floor window Göring scratched his initials in a corner.

"Hodson of Hodson's Horse" (William Stephen Raikes Hodson) (1821–1858), a soldier prominent in the Indian Mutiny, is commemorated here along with his father Rev. George Hodson, who was rector.

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