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All Saints' restored medieval chancel screen.

Dr Thomas Hurst

During the sixteenth century All Saints church, like almost every church in the country, had suffered at the hands of the Reformers. In the 1530s the medieval stained glass was destroyed. In 1561 the rood screen was taken down and its recently re-gilded crucifix and figures of Mary and St John were destroyed, along with the Easter Sepulchre. At the same time or soon after the altar stone was broken up and the altar cross and candlesticks were sold.

Not everyone in the congregation would have been happy with these developments. Most of the rood screen was stored, although it would be sometime before 1905 and 1911 before it was restored (see photograph above). The altar cross, a candlestick and pair of censers were sold in 1565.

Worse was to come in 1644 when the Puritains came to power. The rector – a 'local lad' – was ejected and replaced by a Puritan minister from the Fens.

Rev Thomas Hurst had been born in Barrowby in 1598 and baptised in All Saints on 3rd September. He grew up in Grantham and then initially attended Cambridge University and subsequently Oxford University. In 1627 married Anne Somersall, daughter of an Alderman of Grantham, in All Saints. He was appointed vicar of rector of Leadenham in 1627 and rector of Barrowby two years later. Soon after, in 1631, he graduated as a Doctor of Divinity.

In the mid-1630s there was an epidemic of plague. The people of Grantham were so grateful for the help received from Hurst that he was given the freedom of the borough. Freemen enjoyed exemption from tolls and other special privileges, and in most cases were the only persons eligible to vote at parliamentary elections (though this changed with various Acts of Parliament from 1832 onwards).

Hurst had grander duties as well, serving King Charles I as his personal chaplain for two years. In 1644 the Royalists lost the first English Civil War. As a result of his close connections with the king Hurst lost his living which was sequestrated ('confiscated') and given to a Puritain. This was entirely normal throughout the country. Sources vary as to who succeeded Hurst – both John Elwood and Robert Ram (a minister at Spalding and chaplain in the Parliamentary army) have been named.

Furthermore Hurst was imprisoned, deprived of the income from his land and his personal belongings plundered. In total he lost about £5,000 (nearly a million pounds at today's values).

The White House in 2021.

In total Thomas and Anne had twelve children (although probably only eleven had been born by 1644). The family moved back to Grantham, living at the White House, Brownlow Street (although strictly this was not in Grantham at the time, but the parish of Gonerby-cum-Manthorpe). Hurst took with him some of the panelling installed in Barrowby rectory and a fireplace; there is every chance that he had installed these in the rectory at his own expense.

The White House has a date stone reading 'T.A. 1653' under the right-hand dormer window. This may refer to an extension and the intials to be understood as 'Thomas [and] Anne', although someone with a surname starting with 'A' is more probable.

We can assume that Isaac Newton was a frequent visitor to the house, as Hurst regarded Sir Isaac as one of his best friends.

Woolsthorpe Manor in 2008.
Quite probably Dr Hurst was a visitor in the mid-seventeenth century.

    Thomas and Anne had twelve children between 1628 and 1646, eleven of whom were baptised in Barrowby and one in Leadenham.

    Presumably the Leadenham baptism was that of the eldest child, before Hurst gained the living at Barrowby. But it may be the youngest, as (so far as I am aware) Hurst remained the vicar at Leadenham even after being ejected from Barrowby.

    Seven of the children (Anne, Lewis, Mary, Sarah, Charles, Anna and Elizabeth) died as infants or young children. They were buried in the chancel of All Saints. Also in the chancel there is a stone decorated with fruits on either side and inscribed 'Dr Hurst hath lyeing with this chancel seven children – This is to their memory 1675'.

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    The remaining children (Thomas, Richard, Robert, Mary and Elizabeth) all reached adulthood.

But the maxim of the seventeenth century was 'This too will pass'. After the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 Rev Hurst was reinstated at Barrowby – after paying a fine of £640 (about £120,000 today). He died on 17 March 1674 and the memorial in the chancel was erected during the following year.

Thomas's wife, Anne, died on 26 March 1689. Set in the floor of All Saint's chancel is a stone slab marking where she is buried.

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The Hurst Almshouses.

In his will Hurst left money for the poor. From this bequest the Hurst Almshouses were built to the west of St Wulfram's in Grantham. The Hurst Trust Fund made donations to the poor of Barrowby each year on St Thomas's Day (3 July).

In the mid-1970s Thomas Hurst was again commemorated when Hurst Crescent (off Hedgefield Road) was named after him.

Principal sources

Thomas Hurst was chaplain to Charles I

Hurst, Thomas – was King's Chaplain in Cromwell's Grantham

Cryer 1979

More information about the church

All Saints, Barrowby

If you think I've got something wrong – or can add additional information or photographs – then please email me:– bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk.

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what's new?

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Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

Nineteenth century

nineteenth and twentieth century population

Twentieth century

guided walks in and around Barrowby

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index of surnames in Cryer 1979

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rare seventeenth fonts at Muston, Bottesford and Orston from Project Gargoyle Newsletter 2020

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photos and brief details from Leicester Mercury.
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Harlaxton History Society

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Grantham Civic Society

Grantham Museum

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