People & Families

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Bishop.png

Bishop Bickersteth

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Japanese visitors pay their respect at Chiseldon Church

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Bishop.png
Bishop.png

Bishop Bickersteth

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Death of a Missionary Bishop

In August 2018 Chiseldon was honoured by a visit from three g\entlemen from Japan. They were: Hiroshi Suzuki, Headmaster, James Goto, Governor, and Roger Munechika, Trustee, all of St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls in Tokyo. They had come to Chiseldon to pay their respects to the Bishop of South Tokyo, Edward Bickersteth, a missionary who founded St Hilda's 130 years ago in 1888 and is buried in the Butts Road Cemetery.

  

Coming from a notable ecclesiastical family, (his father was Bishop of Exeter from 1885 to 1900), Edward Bickersteth won a scholarship to Pembroke College, Cambridge, obtained honours in both classics and theology and was appointed a fellow in 1875.  He founded and led the Cambridge Mission to Delhi and worked in India for 7 years. In 1886 he was consecrated Missionary Bishop of the Church of England in Japan. Working tirelessly, the Bishop was committed to developing a Japanese-led, indigenous Anglican Church.


On a visit to England in 1893 he met and married Marion Forsyth and they returned to Japan together.


Bishop Bickersteth and his wife came to England again in 1897 when he spoke on “The Development of the Native Churches” at the Fourth Lambeth Conference. His health had been affected by his punishing workload and he was taken ill and died shortly after the conference while staying with his wife’s family at Chiseldon House.


A welcome party - Elaine Jones and Sheila Passmore from Chiseldon Local History Group, and Churchwarden, Colin Wilkins - met our Japanese visitors at Chiseldon House, where the Bishop died. We then showed them Holy Cross Church where the funeral service was held. Finally, we went to the grave in Butts Road cemetery where our visitors laid a wreath and led us in prayers in Japanese and English.


We also were able to show them the bier which carried Edward Bickersteth on his last journey and, thanks to the Parish Clerk, the original records of the burial.

There is a very full account of the funeral in the Swindon Advertiser of 14th August 1897, which must have been quite an event in a small rural village. A large crowd of villagers attended.


The cortège set off from Chiseldon House and was led by the Churchwardens and Sidesmen, followed by the choir. Many local clergy came next: Rev Gott from Chiseldon and others from Liddington, Marlborough, Wanborough, Highworth, Stanton Fitzwarren, Aldbourne, Gorse Hill, Ogbourne St George and New Swindon. There were three Bishops from Japan present as well. The choir sung three hymns on the way to the church. The Chaplain to the Bishop of Salisbury waited at the Lynch Gate with W.E.N. Brown, (owner of Chiseldon House) and John Stanier, Parish Clerk and Headmaster of the village school. (The Bishop of Salisbury had missed his train).  Many members of the Bishop and his wife’s family followed on foot and in two carriages.


After the funeral service, the procession continued to the cemetery where a hymn composed by Bishop Bickersteth’s father, “Peace, Perfect Peace”, was sung. The grave was lined with moss and jessamine with floral crosses composed of sweet peas. The newspaper goes on to record all the floral tributes and the messages attached and adds a biography of the deceased. It even records the names of the coffin maker and the firm of undertakers.  The account concludes: “By his death, the church loses one of her noblest missionary prelates.”


Elaine Jones

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People & Families

Death of a Missionary Bishop

In August 2018 Chiseldon was honoured by a visit from three g\entlemen from Japan. They were: Hiroshi Suzuki, Headmaster, James Goto, Governor, and Roger Munechika, Trustee, all of St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls in Tokyo. They had come to Chiseldon to pay their respects to the Bishop of South Tokyo, Edward Bickersteth, a missionary who founded St Hilda's 130 years ago in 1888 and is buried in the Butts Road Cemetery.

  

Coming from a notable ecclesiastical family, (his father was Bishop of Exeter from 1885 to 1900), Edward Bickersteth won a scholarship to Pembroke College, Cambridge, obtained honours in both classics and theology and was appointed a fellow in 1875.  He founded and led the Cambridge Mission to Delhi and worked in India for 7 years. In 1886 he was consecrated Missionary Bishop of the Church of England in Japan. Working tirelessly, the Bishop was committed to developing a Japanese-led, indigenous Anglican Church.


On a visit to England in 1893 he met and married Marion Forsyth and they returned to Japan together.


Bishop Bickersteth and his wife came to England again in 1897 when he spoke on “The Development of the Native Churches” at the Fourth Lambeth Conference. His health had been affected by his punishing workload and he was taken ill and died shortly after the conference while staying with his wife’s family at Chiseldon House.


A welcome party - Elaine Jones and Sheila Passmore from Chiseldon Local History Group, and Churchwarden, Colin Wilkins - met our Japanese visitors at Chiseldon House, where the Bishop died. We then showed them Holy Cross Church where the funeral service was held. Finally, we went to the grave in Butts Road cemetery where our visitors laid a wreath and led us in prayers in Japanese and English.


We also were able to show them the bier which carried Edward Bickersteth on his last journey and, thanks to the Parish Clerk, the original records of the burial.

There is a very full account of the funeral in the Swindon Advertiser of 14th August 1897, which must have been quite an event in a small rural village. A large crowd of villagers attended.


The cortège set off from Chiseldon House and was led by the Churchwardens and Sidesmen, followed by the choir. Many local clergy came next: Rev Gott from Chiseldon and others from Liddington, Marlborough, Wanborough, Highworth, Stanton Fitzwarren, Aldbourne, Gorse Hill, Ogbourne St George and New Swindon. There were three Bishops from Japan present as well. The choir sung three hymns on the way to the church. The Chaplain to the Bishop of Salisbury waited at the Lynch Gate with W.E.N. Brown, (owner of Chiseldon House) and John Stanier, Parish Clerk and Headmaster of the village school. (The Bishop of Salisbury had missed his train).  Many members of the Bishop and his wife’s family followed on foot and in two carriages.


After the funeral service, the procession continued to the cemetery where a hymn composed by Bishop Bickersteth’s father, “Peace, Perfect Peace”, was sung. The grave was lined with moss and jessamine with floral crosses composed of sweet peas. The newspaper goes on to record all the floral tributes and the messages attached and adds a biography of the deceased. It even records the names of the coffin maker and the firm of undertakers.  The account concludes: “By his death, the church loses one of her noblest missionary prelates.”


Elaine Jones