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Thomas Batten, Parish Clerk at St James Church Bream for 53 years

Thomas Batten (45k)

Thomas Batten 1824-1900 pictured outside Bream Vicarage.

At the time of his death in 1900, the office of parish clerk of Bream had been in the hands of the Battens since 1791.
Thomas Batten's grandfather who died in 1833 at the age of 79 years held the office for 42 years and at his demise George Batten his son who died in 1847 was appointed, and he held the post for 14 years.
Thomas Batten held the office for 53 years, so that the family of Batten had been doing duty for St James's parish for 109 years.

More information on the Batten family can be found at

Batten Bell Handbill (23k)

Batten Plaque (45k)

Thomas Batten Obituary:

Dean Forest Guardian, Friday, June 22 1900


The death took place at Bream on Monday 11th inst., of Mr Thomas Batten, a well known and widely respected inhabitant at the ripe old age of of 75 years. The deceased was parish clerk and had been so for the last 53 years and during that long period he devoted the necessary time appertaining to the honourable office with much care and zeal. It is a singular coincidence, but the office of parish clerk of Bream has been in the hands of the Battens since 1791.

The deceased’s grandfather who died in 1833 at the age of 79 years held the office for 42 years and at his demise George Batten his son who died in 1847 was appointed, and he held the post for 14 years and the deceased under notice held the office as before stated for 53 years, so that the family of Batten has been doing duty for St James’s parish for 109 years.

The funeral of the deceased took place at St James church Wednesday afternoon when there was a very large attendance to pay their last respects deceased memory, amongst whom was the Rev H.E. Dandy a former vicar of Bream who attended to take part in the last sad rite with the assistance of the Rev I.F. Eales (vicar) who officiated.

The mournful cortege was met at the entrance to the church the surpliced choir , who chanted the Psalms during the service and feelingly rendered the beautiful hymn “Now the labourer’s task is o’er”. There was a number of choice flowers sent by loving friends and acquaintances.

The deceased had been secretary to the St James Sick and Burial Society for a great number of years, and there was a large number of members in attendance at the service.

The following has been received from a correspondent :- Quite a gloom was cast over the village on Monday, the 11th inst., when it became known that Mr. Thomas Batten had passed away after a few days illness. He was apparently in his usual health and spirits when on Whit-Monday he met the members of S. James Sick and Burial Society at their annual church parade and tea. He has ably fulfilled the office of secretary to this society for 25 years and his loss will be greatly felt by all the members. He took to his bed on the Wednesday, and after lying ill for only a few days passed peacefully away on Monday morning. Thus has gone from us one of Bream’s oldest and most respected residents – one, too who was most learned in Forest lore, and had an inexhaustable fund of anecdote, humorous and sympathetic of “Foresters” and their ways; and many will recall with pleasure, not unmingled with regret, the stories he has told of old times.

He was also a good authority on other matters connected with Forest customs and laws, and in fact a friend to whom one naturally turned for information and for advice, which latter was always sound and freely given. He has always taken a lively interest in all matters pertaining to the the parish, as is shown by his long connection with the Sick and Burial Society, and his still longer connection with the Flower Show since it’s inception in 1861, being the senior member of the committee.

He has officiated as clerk at the Parish Church for 53 years, during the ministration of seven pastors and has grown to be so much part of the church itself, as it were, that it will be long before the congregation will grow accustomed to his vacant seat.

He was interred on Wednesday by the Vicar, assisted by Rev H.E. Dandy, the late Vicar, who came to pay the last tribute to an old friend and co-worker, whose loss he feels as deeply as any of the present inhabitants of Bream. The church officers, wardens and sidesmen led the procession from the house, and it was met at the church gates by the clergy and choir, who preceded it to the church, the organist (Mr. J. Kidson) playing “O Rest in the Lord”. Hymn 401, “Now the labourer’s task is o’er,” was sung after the Lesson, and then the mournful procession again wended it’s way to the graveside, the organist playing the “Dead March”.

On Sunday morning the Vicar in his sermon, spoke most feelingly of the loss sustained to the church and the village by the decease of our old friend. We quote from the sermon as follows :- “My Brethren,-As we knelt together on Whit-Sunday morning at the Holy Table of the Lord, which of us imagined that it likely to prove the last communion of him who was our eldest or father of the laity of the parish?” “Or when we saw him apparently so hale and hearty at our Whit-Monday gathering in the school, which of us thought that within one week he would have passed for ever into unseen worlds? “There are many in Bream who feel a sense of loss to-day when they think that Thomas Batten will never more be seen in church or churchyard here. It is as though some old familiar landmark has been swept away, and men in years to come will date events from this. For Thomas Batten has been the best known figure in the place, a man of honour and integrity. “To myself he has been a trustworthy and a trusted councellor, and if ever he and I have differed in opinion our mutual esteem for one another has still remained intact. We always told each other clearly what we thought, and this plan, I think tended to increase rather than diminishing of the affectionate nature of our friendship. “Let me lay before you some facts which will show the grasp that Thomas Batten had upon the history of this church and parish, and made him so trustworthy a guide.

“Born 75 years ago in 1824, he might have witnessed as an infant, the consecration of the chapel of St James after the restoration by Henry Poole. “In those days his grandfather, Thomas Batten, was chapel clerk and sexton , to which office he was appointed in 1791. “In this double office his grandfather Thomas was succeeded in 1833 by his father, George and Thomas Batten himself succeeded his father George in 1847, 53 years ago. The three generations of the family have therefore occupied the same position in Bream for 9 years over the century. Then for Thomas Batten himself. He was in office seven years before John Baverstock was made first vicar of Bream, when Bream was made a separate parish in 1854. He has witnessed the admission of five vicars to this church.

“Thomas Batten was a man of good business habits and capacity, true and just. I cannot remember his ever speaking unkindly of anyone. He was justly respected in the parish, and reverenced and loved in his own family. And on his death-bed it was as a penitent sinner that he looked for salvation through the Saviour’s merits only. “The place of such a man, my brethren, will not easily be filled, and I should like to say to-day that in my opinion some lasting monument to his memory should be placed in this church, where he served and worshipped so faithfully and so long. It is well that we should be reminded often in this way of the dignity of service – of the great dignity of service in God’s House. In addition to the facts mentioned above it may be added that Thomas Batten was Lay Representative of the parish on the Rural-Decanal Conference for 15 years from 1872 to 1886, and a Sidesman of the Church for 10 years from 1886 to 1895. For many years also he was the Secretary of the S. James Sick and Burial Society and a member of the Flower Show Committee.

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