The Clergy of the
Parish of Bognor
Clergy Home Page
Rt. Rev. Walter Farrar, DD
All the photographs (except those of the located graves) are very kindly
provided for inclusion on this website by
Helen Nedham, Richard
Farrar and Tim Smellie
but they are included on the basis that they must not be reproduced under any circumstances.
1915 - 1916
Date of Birth
20th April 1865
All Saints Church, New Amsterdam, British Guiana
6th December 1916
Hawthorn Rd. Cemetery, Bognor Regis (burial no. 1963)
Ven. Archdeacon Thomas Farrar B.D.
Melicent Ann Austin
Married Alice eldest daughter of William.Francis Bridges, JP, Administrator of
Queen’s College, Georgetown, and was the second student to win the
British Guiana Scholarship (the first being his future brother-in-law,
James Hill Conyers) to Keble College, Oxford, in 1883. He graduated with
honours in theology in 1887.
In 1905, he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from his College.
Returned to British Guiana
and ordained a deacon by
Bishop William Piercy
Austin in 1888.
Chaplain of H.M. Penal Settlement, Mazaruni;
During the period 1897-1905,
Rector of Limpley Stoke, Wiltshire, and Hawkchurch in Devonshire, Acting Warden
of the Jamaica Church Theological College, and Commissary in England of the
Bishop of Guiana.
In 1905 consecrated Bishop of Antigua in St. Michael’s Cathedral, Barbados, but
had to resign five years later due to ill health.
of Antigua, went to Barbados in 1908 to became Principal of Codrington College.
Left Barbados in 1909 for
England where he held several posts including Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of
York, Principal of Bishop’s College, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, and Assistant
Bishop in the West Indies.
1910, went to Canada to
assist in the administration of the diocese of Quebec for two years.
1912 went to British Honduras,
first as Commissary for, and then Bishop of British Honduras and Central
America, a post that he held from 1913-1915.
1915 appointed vicar of St John the Baptist Church, Bognor, Sussex.
Times Obituary 9th December, 1916
The death is announced of the
Right Rev. Walter Farrar, D.D., vicar of Bognor, Sussex, and formerly Bishop of
British Honduras and Central America. It was just over a year ago that he
resigned his bishopric and accepted the vicarage of Bognor. He had been in
ill-health since September. Bishop Farrar was 51. He was the son of Archdeacon
Thomas Farrar, Vicar-General of Guiana, Born in British Guiana, he was educated
at Queen's College, Guiana, and at Keble College, Oxford, where he took his
degree in 1887, being placed in the third class in the Theological School. He
was ordained in the following year and began work at once in British Guiana as
Incumbent of St, Mary's, East coast, and after a period as chaplain of the Penal
Settlement at Mazaruni, he became rector of Holy Trinity, Essequibo, in 1896.
Two years later he was appointed to the rectory of Hawkchurch, Dorset, which he
held till 1905, when he was consecrated Bishop of Antigua. Afterwards, from
1910, he was successively Assistant Bishop of Quebec and Assistant Bishop of the
West Indies, and he was appointed Bishop of Honduras in 1913. He married in
1889 the elder daughter of Mr. W.F. Bridges, Administrator-General of British
Guiana, who, with two sons and two daughters, survive him. The elder son has
just received a commission from the O.T.C., and the other is already serving in
(1)'The Farrar Family': A Partial Account of the Life of the Venerable
Archdeacon Thomas Farrar,
B.D. and of His Descendents
(Richard John Piercy Farrar & Helen Joan Howard Nedham - ISBN 0954667700).
Note: Richard Farrar's
grandfather was Cecil Farrar, brother of Walter Farrar so Walter
was his great uncle and Archdeacon Thomas Farrar was his great
grandfather. Walter and Cecil's sister Anne Farrar was Helen
Nedham's great grandmother.
R.B Austin on the descendents of Thomas Austin of Barbados (1727-1806)
Enquiry about a former bishop of West Indies
Visitors to St. Wilfrid’s Church
who have seen the wooden plaque recording the line of Perpetual Curates and
Vicars of the Parish of Bognor, may have been intrigued to note that the list
includes a former Bishop – Walter Farrar., DD. The name of Farrar is a very
important one in ecclesiastical circles as the Very Rev. Frederic William
Farrar, DD, (1831–1903) was a dean of Canterbury and a novelist who became
famous for the book ‘Eric, or Little by Little’ published in 1858, which in its time was as popular
as ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’. The Who’s Who entry for the Rev. Walter Farrar
states that his father was indeed the famous dean, but this family connection
seemed unlikely because we knew that Walter was actually born in British Guiana,
educated there before going to Oxford to take a degree, and married the
Administrator of Guiana’s daughter. The Guiana jigsaw pieces and the pieces to
do with the famous dean just didn’t fit together – and after a great deal of
research we now know that this connection is indeed wrong.
The trigger to all this research
www.wilfrid.com website enquiry in
September 2006 from Michael Grace, TSSF who is writing a book on the Diocese of
West Indies and had noted Walter’s association with St. Wilfrid’s church. We
were able to help Michael with the location of where Walter is buried (plot
1975) in Hawthorn Rd. Cemetery, Bognor Regis in a family grave with his youngest
daughter Alice Irene (plot 1976).
The family plot was completely
overgrown with ivy and partially vandalised but with the much appreciated
assistance of Ron Iden at the West Sussex County Record Office, John was able to
identify the exact plots from a map of the graves - otherwise it would have been
impossible to trace them. After clearing all the weeds and placing the broken
crosses in a more fitting position, the photographs below were taken. At the end
of this article it will be noted that the adjoining plot revealed further
amazing links with the West Indies!
|The Farrar family plots 1976 - 1975
|Alice Irene (daughter) plot 1976
||Walter Farrar plot 1975
Thomas Austin Descendents in Barbados
An exchange of research data
followed and a vital start to our research into Walter’s life was a link to the
website created by R.B Austin on the
descendents of Thomas Austin of Barbados (1727-1806).
From this remarkable website we
were able to ascertain:
Walter was born to Thomas Farrar and Melicent Ann Austin in ‘Eliza and Mary’, at
Springlands, Corentyne, Berbice on the 20th April 1865 and that
Melicent Ann Austin was a descendent of Thomas Austin who is believed to have
been born on the Island of Barbados in about 1727. His ancestors had most likely
emigrated from England, possibly via the then American Colonies, during the
previous century. Thomas married three times and had sixteen children, all born
in Barbados. Some remained on the Island, others emigrated to Guiana. The
children and their descendants rose to prominent positions in society, some
taking Holy Orders and others holding senior posts in
government and in the
British Armed Forces. The source of their wealth was sugar.
Melicent married the
Ven.Archdeacon Thomas Farrar B.D. son of James Farrar and Harriett Armitage on
13 Aug 1857 in St Philip's, Charlestown, Georgetown. Thomas was born on 21 Dec
1830 in Holbeck, Leeds. He was christened on 22 Dec 1830 and died on 21 Aug 1893
Thomas and Melicent had 14
James Henry Farrar b 3 Aug 1858
in At sea off Maida, Corentyne; d 24 Oct 1859.
Melicent Farrar "Milly, Aunt
Milly" b 30 Oct 1860 in Holbeck, Leeds; d 31 Jan 1944 in
Anne Farrar "Annie" b 13 May
1862 in Holbeck, Leeds; d 17 Mar 1936 in Georgetown.
Bishop Walter Farrar D.D. b 20
Apr 1865 in Eliza and Mary, Corentyne; d 6th December 1916.
Nicholas Farrar b 1 Oct 1866 in
Werk-en-Rust, Georgetown; d 13 Feb 1927 in Toronto.
Marie Farrar b 2 Mar 1869 in
Penal Settlement, Mazaruni, B.G.; d 4 Jun 1935 in Bridgetown, Barbados
Edward Farrar b 20 Jun 1870 in
Penal Settlement, Mazaruni, B.G.; d 20 Jun 1870 in Penal Settlement,
Ellen Farrar "Nellie" b 26 Sep
1871 in Penal Settlement, Mazaruni, B.G.; d on 1 Mar 1969 in Montreal.
Rev. Canon Piercy Austin Farrar
b 1 Sep 1873 in St Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 29 Oct 1947.
Cecil Farrar b 6 Mar 1875 in St
Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 17 Dec 1948 in B.G.
Alfred Farrar b 10 Oct 1876 in
St Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 28 Oct 1917 in Enemy action at
Josephine Martha Alice Farrar b
27 Mar 1878 in St Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 3 Aug 1927 in
Ada Blanche Pierce Farrar b 10
Dec 1879 in St Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 14 Jan 1962.
Edith Louisa Fanny Farrar b 25
Feb 1882 in St Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 18 Sep 1960. Edith
was cremated in Brighton Crematorium.
Archdeacon Thomas and Melicent Ann Farrar and their family
(Seated):Melicent Ann and Annie with Ada standing between them. Front
Standing: Josephine, in the dark tunic, with Edith (beside her mother).
(Second row standing): Walter, Cecil, Thomas, Milly and Alfred (with
hands in pockets). (Back row): Nellie between Walter and Cecil, with
Marie at the rear. [Absent: Nicholas and Piercy].
[The photograph was taken at All Saints’ Rectory, New Amsterdam, Berbice,
c1892, the year before Thomas Farrar died]
|All Saints’ Rectory, New Amsterdam, Berbice
Church (c 1935)
All Saints Church and
Rectory of Archdeacon
Thomas Farrar and family
home of Bishop Walter Farrar
is clearly shown on the East bank of the Berbice River. The map
also indicates the location of Springlands, on the West bank of
the Courantyne River, where the village of Eliza and Mary is
located and where Walter was born. Skeldon, where Walter was
curate of St. Margaret’s from 1888 to 1890, is a sugar
plantation. The Courentyne Coast district, taken from the name
of the river, is nowadays often spelt Corentyne. The dotted red
line on the west bank of the river marks the border between
British Guiana/Guyana and Dutch Guiana/Surinam.
After publication of the initial
website entry, we have received a great deal of valuable assistance from Helen Nedham,
Richard Farrar and Tim Smellie who have extensively researched the Thomas Farrar
family and we would like to record our appreciation for all their support..
Helen and Richard have published a book 'The Farrar Family': A Partial Account
of the Life of the Venerable Archdeacon Thomas Farrar, B.D. and of His
Descendents (Richard John Piercy Farrar & Helen Joan Howard Nedham - ISBN
0954667700) and have very kindly allowed us to include the details about Walter
Farrar from their book shown below:
Farrar Section in Richard Farrar and Helen Nedham's Book
WALTER FARRAR (1865–1916):
Walter was born at ‘Eliza and Mary’,
Springlands, Corentyne, Berbice, on April 20th, 1865. He was
educated at Queen’s College, Georgetown, and was the second student (the
first being his future brother-in-law, James Hill Conyers) to win the
British Guiana Scholarship before going up to Keble College, Oxford
University in 1883. He graduated in 1887 with an honours degree in theology
and was an exhibitioner at Lichfield College. In 1891, also from Oxford, he
obtained his M.A. and in 1895 his B.D. In 1895, Walter obtained a second
M.A. (ad eund), this time from the University of Durham. He was
ordained deacon by Bishop William Piercy Austin in 1888 at St. George’s
Pro-Cathedral, Georgetown, and was priested in 1889.
Austin, B.A. (Oxon), M.A. (Oxon), D.D. (Oxon and Durham), L.L.D.
(Cantab.), D.C.L. (Oxon), Bishop of British Guiana & Primate of
the West Indies. Bishop Austin is wearing the badge of Prelate
of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George,
awarded to him in 1891 by Queen Victoria.
The Ven.Archdeacon Thomas Farrar
gave an address on the occasion of the Jubilee of Bishop
William Piercy Austin. Richard Farrar (Archdeacon Thomas Farrar
was his great grandfather and William Piercy Austin was his
great great great uncle) has very kindly advised me of a link to
the Project Canterbury website where the whole
address can be viewed - a
fascinating first hand account of the local church history from
Walter Farrar's father. Note from Appendix B that Walter Farrar
was present at this 1891 Jubilee Service
was curate of St. Margaret’s, Skeldon, with St. Mary’s, Plantation Mary’s
Hope, (Leeds Village)
and Superintendent of the aboriginal
and Chinese missions in the Upper Courantyne River, Berbice, 1888–90;
Chaplain of H.M. Penal Settlement, Mazaruni, 1890–94 (a post which his
father had held before him, and which was considered at the time a high
compliment and a reward for his high scholarly attainments as a young
He was examining chaplain to the Bishop of Guiana, 1893–93;
priest-in-charge of Beterverwagting, East Coast, Demerara, and
superintendent of the training college for catechists, 1894–96; and rector
of Holy Trinity, Anna Regina, Essequibo, 1896–97. In 1897, Walter went to
England where he became, firstly, curate of the Parish of Winsley cum
Bath, Wiltshire; and then rector of
Hawkchurch, Axminster, Dorset now (2003), in Devonshire) 1898–1905. The
following is an extract of the Sources for Clergy in the diocesan archives
at the Wiltshire and Swindon record office in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.
by Divine Permission, Bishop of Salisbury. To our beloved in CHRIST Walter
Farrar, B.D., Clerk. Greeting. We do by these Presents give
and grant unto you, in whose Fidelity, Morals, Learning, sound Doctrine, and
Diligence, We do fully confide, our Licence and Authority to perform the
Office of Assistant Stipendiary Curate in the Parish of Winsley cum Limpley
in the County of Wilts. within our Diocese and Jurisdiction, in the place of
Charles Standen, Clerk, late licensed Curate at thereof, in reading the
Common Prayer, preaching the Word of God, administering the Holy Sacraments
and in performing all other ecclesiastical duties belonging to the said
Office, according to the Form prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer, and
of the Ordering of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, made and published by
authority of Parliament, and the Canons and Constitutions in that behalf
lawfully established and, promulged, and none other, except
[inserted here, in
very small handwriting, is a sentence which cannot be deciphered] so far
as shall be ordered by lawful authority. And WE do by these Presents assign
unto you the yearly Stipend of One Hundred Pounds to be paid
quarterly for serving the said Cure. And we do direct you to reside at
whereof, We have caused our Seal, which we use in this case to be hereto
affixed. Dated the Fifteenth day of December in the year of Our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and ninety seven and in the thirteenth year of our
Walter’s book, ‘Notes on Cultus of the Sacred Heart’,
was published in 1900. He was commissary, in England, to the Bishop of
and acting warden of the Theological
College, Up Park Camp, Jamaica, 1904. On May 7th, 1905, he was
consecrated Bishop of Antigua in St. Michael’s Cathedral, Barbados, by the
Archbishop of the West Indies (Nuttall), assisted by the Bishops of Guiana
(Edward Archibald Parry), Trinidad (Welsh) and Barbados (William Proctor
St. Michael’s in Bridgetown, Barbados where Walter Farrar was
consecrated (and where the contributor to this website Richard Farrar's parents
were married on 24 October 1934). Walter’s brother, Canon Piercy Austin Farrar,
was a Canon of St Michaels.
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, St.
John’s Antigua, where Bishop Walter Farrar was Bishop, as it
appeared in the 1930’s. The original church was
built in 1661 and replaced by a stone building in 1745, which was
destroyed by an earthquake in 1843 The building in the photo dates
from 1845. It was quite remarkable that the rebuild only took two
years thanks to funds provided by the Church of England.
On 5th August, 1905 Walter was granted an honorary Doctor in
Divinity degree from Keble College. By strange coincidence, his future
son-in-law, William Wallace Cathcart Dunlop (see below) received his B.A. at
the same convocation. Five years after his consecration, Walter was obliged
to resign the See due to ill health.
It was as Bishop of Antigua that Walter went to
Barbados in 1908 to become principal of Codrington College for a short
period. In this regard, his son-in-law, William Wallace Cathcart Dunlop
(1877–1938), for several years professor of classics at the College,
contributed an article about Walter for the Lent Term, 1917, College
magazine, in which he wrote:
It was as Bishop of Antigua that he came in 1908 to act as Principal of
Codrington College. His period of service was short, yet in it he was
enabled to effect certain much needed changes in the administration
College. The grateful appreciation of those who had the advantage of his
guidance and instruction during those few months is still a living thing.
Walter left Barbados in 1909 for England where he held
several posts, including: commissary to the Archbishop of York and assistant
bishop in the Diocese of York, 1910, principal of Bishop’s College, Cheshunt,
Hertfordshire, and assistant bishop in the West Indies. In 1910, Walter went
to Canada for two years as assistant bishop of Quebec, to assist in the
administration of that diocese and later as Archdeacon of St. Francis. In
1912, at the age of forty-seven, after his health had improved, Walter went
to British Honduras —firstly as commissary for, and then as Bishop of
British Honduras and Central America, a post that he held from 1912–1915.
In 1915, Walter returned to England
and was appointed to the vicarage of St. John the Baptist Church,
St. John's Church Parish
(demolished in 1972)
A mosaic panel dedicated
to Walter Farrar recovered from St. John's church and now stored
at St. Wilfrid's Church
On January 24th, 1889, Walter was married
by Bishop William Piercy Austin to Alice Bridges (1868–1950), eldest
daughter of William Francis (‘Francis’) Bridges and Adele Bridges (née
Sherlock). They were married in All Saints’ Church, New Amsterdam, Berbice.
Alice was born on March 21st 1868.
Wm Francis Bridges, J.P., became Administrator General of British Guiana. He
owned a mercantile company in New Amsterdam named Bridges & Co. and in 1882
was Manager of Plantation Goldstone Hall in Berbice. Francis was born in New
Amsterdam, Berbice and his wife Adele was born in England. The dates of
their births and deaths are not precisely known.
Bishop Walter Farrar died on December 6th,
1916 at the comparatively young age of 51, and was buried three days later
in Hawthorn Road Cemetery, Bognor Regis, (grave no. 1975).
The 1910 edition of Who’s Who records that:
‘Riding is his favourite amusement and as much of his life as a bishop
must be spent in a boat, it is well perhaps that he can swim.’ Bishop
Walter Farrar, M.A., D.D., was certainly blessed with a sense of humour, but
his gentleness concealed a firmness, which he showed on every necessary
occasion during his term in high office. He has been described as
unaffected, tactful, courteous and dignified. Walter made friends easily,
and those who differed with him did so only in opinion. He was a man of
scholarly parts and distinguished eloquence, and was a delightful raconteur.
The following is an extract from an ‘appreciation’ written a week after his
The death of
Bishop Farrar, at the early age of 51, has evoked widespread sympathy in and
beyond the parish of Bognor. He had only been with us for a year, yet so
lovable was his character that his passing leaves a deep sense of personal
loss to many. He was a great man, trusted by those in authority, and
possessed just that breadth of outlook, which is so needed by the Vicar for
an important parish. His rank and influence, great as they were, would not
have been sufficient to have called forth such regret when he departed this
Farrar, Bishop,” was essentially human. He could be very stern, and nothing
moved him to deeper anger than oppression or cruelty. Yet, when he had said
his say, no one was more ready than he to forgive and forget. He was
passionately fond of children and many a Bognor boy or girl will remember
his kindly words and gifts.
It was a joy to be with the late Bishop. His gaiety of manner was
infectious, and those who have heard his hearty laugh will never forget it.
He had a real sense of humour, and keenly enjoyed a joke. He was no killjoy.
He frequently attended “the pictures,” often accompanied by his staff.
He was essentially
just, though he always tempered justice with mercy. In affairs, he was
painstaking and conscientious. He was accessible at all times, and
invariably courteous. A story is told of a man who went to the Vicarage to
ventilate some grievance. His Lordship met him with, “How are you, my
friend? I’m glad to see you,” and shewed him to the most comfortable chair
in the room. They had a most interesting conversation, and the man left
without saying what he intended.
He was loyal to all with whom he was associated, and frequently allowed
himself to be blamed for the faults of others. He was very quick to see an
essential point, and his tact never failed. Tact was not synonymous with
cowardice to him, for he held firmly to his principles, yet he ever
considered the principles of others.
Of his work as a
Bishop, little seems to be known here. In the difficult diocese of Honduras,
he gallantly stuck to his post until compelled to leave under doctor’s
orders. He placed the finances of both Honduras and Antigua on a sound
basis. The following story illustrates his wisdom. The whole of the diocese
of British Honduras is not under British jurisdiction, and many of the
congregation are of mixed nationality. It was customary therefore to pray
for various European Sovereigns. One congregation, after the outbreak of
war, wanted to pray for the Kaiser. His Lordship solved the delicate problem
by ruling that they might pray for “our enemy the Kaiser.”
Those that knew
him best were attracted to him by his deep spirituality and earnestness. He
always prepared carefully not only his sermons, but every word of the
service and lessons. Every detail came under his personal notice and
supervision, and nothing was done without his sanction. He firmly believed
in, and strongly upheld the Catholic and Evangelical character of the Church
of England. His last blessed act was to receive the Blessed Sacrament.
A great man has
left us, but his life and influence will remain with us. He died on the
Feast of St. Nicholas, Bishop, the Patron Saint of Children. We in Bognor
must try to be worthy of one who was indeed a Father in God to us.
H. Crawford Hunter]
Unfortunately, little survives about the life of his wife Alice. However,
one can rightly assume that she was a truly Christian lady with great inner
strength who stood by her husband throughout his distinguished career and
lengthy illness. She died in Hastings, Sussex, in September 1950 at the age
Walter and Alice had four children
and both their sons were awarded the Military Cross for their services in WW1.
of Adele Marie Farrar to Canon John Cecil Wippell.
Taken at Codrington College in 1940. Canon Wippell was her
second husband and Principal of Codrington College from 1918 to
1945. Her first husband, William Wallace Cathcart Dunlop, who taught
classics at Codrington College, drowned in 1938 while swimming at
Cattlewash on the Bathsheba coast in Barbados
Capt. Walter Frederick Farrar M.C. b 1893 in B.G.
The details below have been kindly provided by Richard
Farrar following the earlier research by John Hawkins on the military
career of Capt. Walter Farrar.
Frederick Farrar (b. 1893):
Walter was born at H.M. Penal Settlement, Mazaruni, British Guiana,
while his father was Chaplain there, on June 12th, 1893.
Prior to the outbreak of World War I, Walter worked for The Royal
Bank of Canada, formerly The British Guiana Bank. His name is
included in a list of 1,495 bank employees (worldwide) that enlisted
for active service during the war and who were guaranteed employment
after the war―if they survived!
In 1925, he married Nora
Ironmonger (b. 1881),
daughter of Frank and Adelaide H. Ironmonger. Frank Ironmonger was
an exchange broker. Norah was born in Addiscombe, Surrey.
Walter was awarded the
Military Cross for gallantry during the British offensive at Cambrai
in November 1917 while serving in ‘F’ Battalion of the Tank Corps,
which he had joined in May 1917. ‘F’ Battalion was part of 36th
Brigade of 12th (Eastern) Division. The award was
gazetted on February 18th, 1918 and he was decorated on
November 25th, 1920.
The following is a
description of what it was like for members of the crew inside a
World War I Mark IV tank at Cambrai :
Crouching inside ‘Behemoth’ in their leather helmets and chain
were exposed to
unimagined extremes of noise, smoke and heat from sometimes red
hot engines—a ‘near pandemonium’ in which ‘a language of
pantomime was perfected. One hit a man to catch his attention
and then conveyed one’s meaning by gesticulation.’ Enemy fire
brought red-hot splinters of ‘bullet splash’, which would pour
through the gun port and sighting slits or come sparking off the
inside of the tank’s metal hull—each strike ‘for all the world
like a miniature Catherine wheel’, as one tank man remembered
it. The facial burns caused by ‘bullet splash’ may have been
reduced a little by the issuing of special chain-mail visors.
Yet those inside this ‘pocket hell’ also risked wholesale
incineration, especially the commander and driver who, in the
early Mark I models, sat with petrol tanks on either side of
them in the front of the cab.
were also quite crude:
To the extent they
communicated at all, the tank crews did so by squeezing carrier
pigeons out through a hole in a gun sponson, by brandishing a
shovel through the manhole, or by frantically waving coloured
disks in the air. The navigation systems were even more
primitive. Each landship had a compass, and a periscope that was
liable to be shot off in the early stages of any engagement. The
two portholes or sighting slits at the front might appear to
wink at war correspondents, but they were no joke to the men who
had to navigate them. Vision was highly restricted at the best
of times, and when enemy fire necessitated the closure of the
portholes, the crew could only peer out of tiny holes the size
of a pea….
At 6.20 a.m. on November 20th,
1917, the artillery opened fire with a brief but intensive
bombardment, and nineteen divisions of the British Third Army,
under General Sir Julian Byng, were poised to advance, and they
did so almost immediately; one other reason for the brevity of
the bombardment being that it was vital not to break up the
terrain over which the attack was to be made. There was a
special need for this, for the advance was to be spearheaded by
a massive force of tanks. Fighting under the personal command of
the GOC of the Tank Corps, Brigadier General Hugh Elles (he
himself went into battle in one of his own machines), some 300
tanks rapidly crushed the barbed wire of the Hindenburg Line and
by the end of the short winter’s day an advance of three to four
miles had been achieved on a six-mile front.
previously stated, Walter commanded one of the 381 Mark IV tanks
that took part in the Battle. That tank was identified during the
British assault by the name of
F22 Flying Fox II.
His tank battalion, consisting of twelve Mark IV tanks, was
commanded by Major Philip Hamond D.S.O., M.C. Late on the morning of
November 20th 1917, ‘F’ Battalion entered the town of
Masnières, its objective was to assist in seizing and holding the
bridgehead on the St. Quentin canal. On reaching the only bridge
across the Masnières River, it was found that the bridge had been
partially destroyed by the Germans. F22
Flying Fox II,
commanded by Walter, was ordered to attempt to span the gap with his
tank. Unfortunately the weight of the tank caused the bridge to
collapse further and F22 Flying Fox II
crashed into the river below. All of the crew escaped safely, but
the tank blocked the progress of other tanks and cavalry units that
were attempting cross the river in order to exploit the British
and British casualties during the Battle of Cambrai (regarded as a
German tactical victory), were 41,000 men and 44,000 men,
respectively. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment alone lost nearly all
of its officers and more than half of its other ranks. The Regiment
was accorded the title ‘Royal’ by His Majesty King George V. The
distinction is unique in that it is one no other regiment in the
British Army was to have conferred upon it during the First World
War while fighting was in progress.
Walter’s Military Cross
2nd Lt. Walter Frederick Farrar, Tank Corps.
gallantry and devotion to duty. He destroyed an enemy machine
gun position in an attack, killing the crew and taking the guns
on board his Tank.
When he found an important
bridge partially destroyed he drove his tank over it in an
attempt to span the gap and keep the crossing open, and when
this Tank sank in the river he got all his crew out safely. He
showed the greatest initiative and determination.
Walter continued to
serve in the army until late 1920, at which time he held the rank of
On August 1st 1919 this Type IV tank
was presented to the people of Ashford, Kent by Captain
Walter Farrar MC in recognition of the town's response
to the national war savings appeal.
The shield to the left of the badge of the Tank Corps is the arms
Borough of Ashford:
After he was demobilised, he went to Trinidad where he
probably worked for The Royal Bank of Canada since he had been
guaranteed a job by the Bank after the war. On February 18th,
1921 he was presented with the Military Cross at Government House by
the Governor of the Colony, Lt.-Col. Sir John Robert Chancellor,
C.B.E., G.C.V.O., K.C.M.G., D.S.O. It
is not presently known where or when Walter died. His wife Norah,
who was born in England on March 3rd 1881, lived for a
number of years after Walter’s death in Eastbourne, Sussex. She was
a long time friend of Alfred and Millie Waterfield (née Bosch Reitz)
and used to come for Christmas at the Bavin family home in Hankham,
Sussex, and later at the at the Smellie family home in Polegate,
Sussex, when Millie was still alive (Alfred having died in 1948).
On these occasions, Norah is remembered as a delightful lady with a
sense of fun who was always game in joining in charades after
dinner. Norah died at her home at 23, Upperton Gardens, Eastbourne,
Sussex, on September 20th, 1970.
Walter and Norah had no
A link to a full
description of the battle of Cambrai is available at the
English translation of the
histoirémilitaria14-18 website - note
this includes a picture of Capt. Farrar's tank F22 Firefox II
taken at the bridge named Pont de Masnières .
John Hawkins has also uncovered a superb account
of the Battle of Cambrai which names 2/Lt.Walter Frederick Farrar and
his part in the battle and has a very clear picture of Flying Fox II
(pages 86-87). Ref: 'Following the Tanks/Cambrai/ 20th Nov- 7th Dec
1917' by Jean-Luc Gibot - Philippe Gorczynski, English translation by
Wendy McAdam, 1999, ISBN 2-95 11696-1-2 available from the Royal Tank
Regiment, Stanley Barracks, Bovingdon, Dorset, BH20 6JB
Capt. Thomas Inniss Farrar M.C.
b 1896 in B.G.
The details below have been kindly provided
by Richard Farrar:
Inniss Farrar (1896–1934):
born in British Guiana on June 17th, 1896. He volunteered
for active duty in the army at Worthing, Sussex, on September 12th,
1914, was enlisted, and served initially with the 19th
(Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers; on October 26th,
1914, he was commissioned into the 5th Battalion, Royal
Devonshire Regiment. The very brief period between the dates he
enlisted and the date he received his commission would lead one to
presume that Thomas had already received military training before
enlistment, probably at school. We do not know with certainty where
he served before he was seconded in October 1916 to the 6th
(Reserve) Battalion, Machine Gun Corps. However, according to his
son Ewan, his health was affected because of poison gas, and it is
therefore possible that Thomas fought with the Devonshire Regiment
at the Somme, where the Germans employed gas for the first time.
Reaching the front line
ten days after the Battle of the Somme, a British officer recorded
in his diary the information he was given by the Padre concerning
the attack on Mametz Village by the Devonshires:
His news was ghastly— everyone I care for
gone: all four officers of my company killed: dear Harold died
most splendidly before the German lines. He was shot through the
stomach and Lawrence killed behind him by the same shot.
Iscariot was shot through the heart below Mansel Copse and all
his staff killed around him; Smiler killed about the same place,
getting his bombs up. No single officer got through untouched.
The men did grandly—going on without officers and reaching all
Thomas was wounded at Kut (or more
precisely Kut al Amara), in Mesopotamia (now Iraq), and in the same
action was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry. The decoration
was gazetted on May 17th, 1917, but it was not until
April 22nd, 1922, that he actually received it, by post.
Unfortunately, the war diaries of Thomas’s regiment have not
survived, and consequently the actual circumstances of the award are
not known. As there was often a delay, sometimes several months,
between the date on which the award was earned and the date it was
gazetted, it is possible that Thomas’s act of gallantry occurred
sometime in January or February 1916. Kut is about eighty miles
south of Baghdad. In the spring of 1916, the Turks encircled it, and
despite brave attempts to relieve it, the British were unsuccessful,
and General Townsend surrendered to the Turks on April 29th,
1916. The emaciated survivors were marched to captivity in Turkey.
However, on February 25th, 1917, the British retook Kut,
and the Turks were pursued to Baghdad, which was captured on March
11th, 1917. Thomas would have been attached to the 6th
Battalion Machine Gun Corps at the time. The ‘guns’
referred to in the citation (below) would have been
machine-guns. The Vickers was a very potent weapon, and
so well designed that it was used throughout the Second World War
and in Korea with great effect. It was very portable, weighing, with
tripod, only 73 lbs. Each belt of ammunition contained 250 x .303
inch calibre bullets, which were fired at the rate of 500 rounds per
minute. The German counterpart was the Maxim. The Maxim was very
similar in looks and firepower to the Vickers. It came to be known
as the ‘Slayer’
because of the casualties it inflicted on
July 1st, 1916, the opening day of the Allied
infantry offensive at the Battle of the Somme. Its devastating
firepower accounted for 90% of the 60,000 Allied casualties (mainly
British) incurred on that one day. In the battle for Mametz Village,
a single German machine-gun killed 159 men of the Devonshire
published in The London Gazette
on May 17th, 1917, states:
Thomas Inniss Farrar, Devon. R.
gallantry and devotion to duty. Although wounded in two places,
he remained on duty and took his guns up to the captured trench,
where he behaved with the utmost gallantry, although he was
again wounded in the hand.
At the end of the war,
Thomas held the rank of Captain.
Thomas married Lady
Sidney Mary Catherine Anne Hobart-Hampden-Mercer Henderson
daughter of Sidney Carr Hobart-Hampden-Mercer-Henderson (1860–1930),
7th Earl of Buckinghamshire, and Georgiana Wilhelmina
Haldane-Duncan-Mercer-Henderson (1873–1937), Countess of
Buckinghamshire, on June 14th, 1924. They were married at St.
George’s Church, Hanover Square, London. Thomas and Lady Sidney
emigrated to Kenya where they owned a farm in Mau Summit, about
seventy miles north of Nairobi. Thomas, in failing health because of
having being gassed during the war, died on October 21st,
1934. During World War II, Lady Sidney served with the East African
Women’s Territorial Service in East Africa and the Middle East,
achieving the rank of Major. She was mentioned in despatches and for
her military service was awarded the M.B.E. (Military Division).
After Thomas died, Lady Sidney remained in Kenya with her son, where
she continued to farm and took an active part in local politics,
being elected to the Legislative Council in 1938 and serving until
1942. Known as a kindly but firm employer who stood no nonsense, she
was an active indomitable champion of settler values and showed no
fear of the Mau-Mau terror campaign when she was known to be on a
list of intended victims.
First World War,
Harper and Collins, p.260.
Marriage press report -
Press Article 9 February 1924
of Captain Thomas Farrar to Lady Sidney Mercer-Henderson
St. George's Church, Hanover
Square, Mayfair on 14 January 1924
Family Connections to Frederic Farrar, Dean of Canterbury
This brings us to the interesting
question whether Walter Farrar is in any way related to the Very Rev. Frederic
William Farrar, DD, (1831–1903) dean of Canterbury.
Very Rev. Frederic William Farrar, DD, (1831–1903) Dean of
Memorial in Canterbury Cathedral placed there by his son Eric (of
Eric, or Little by Little fame)
Although the 1916 Who’s Who claims that Walter is a son of the dean of Canterbury, in Kelly's Handbook of the same year states that Walter is the son of archdeacon Thomas
Via the Oxford and Cambridge Alumni
we have discovered 4 of the sons of Frederic William Farrar
Reginald Anstruther F. first
son. He went to Keble, Oxford, and matriculated 19 Oct 1880, aged 19
Eric Maurice F. b Jan 12 1866;
Frederic Percival F.; b Oct 11
1871. Pembroke, Cambridge.
Ivor Granville F. Youngest son;
b Sep 14 1874. Pembroke, Cambridge.
The fifth son was a mystery until
Richard Farrar, who with Helen Nedham and Tim Smellie have helped immeasurably
with the research on this web page, found the missing name for us (Cyril
Lytton Farrar) and confirmed the names of the Dean's ten children in order of
Reginald Anstruther Farrar
Evelyn Lucy Farrar
Hilda Cardew Farrar
Maud Farrar [who married Bishop
Sir Henry Hutchinson Montgomery (1847 –1932) and their son, Field-Marshal
Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, K.G., G.C.B., D.S.O. (1887–1976), was the
renowned World War II British army commander]
Rev Eric Maurice Farrar
Cyril Lytton Farrar
Rev. Percival Farrar
Rev. Ivor Grenville Farrar
So the remaining question was whether
Walter’s father the Ven. Archdeacon Thomas Farrar B.D. son of James Farrar (from
Leeds) was in any way connected to the Very Rev. Frederic William Farrar, DD,
dean of Canterbury and son of Charles Pinhorn Farrar?
Farrar was baptised on 12th Feb. 1799 at All Saints, Wakefield, and his father
was John Farrar. So far no direct (blood line) link has been identified between the families of
James (Leeds) and John (Wakefield).
However, Helen Nedham has very
kindly identified a connection involving Walter's sister in law Edith Celia
Packard, wife of his younger brother Alfred Farrar, whose grandfather Walton
Turner had a sister Caroline Turner, mother of Frederick William Farrar, the
famous Dean! If this is all a little complicated the family connection is shown
below with Walter and the Dean highlighted in red (click picture for a
Research into possible direct blood-links between the two Farrar families will
no doubt continue! For the time being Richard Farrar and Helen Nedham have
recorded the following statement in the latest update of their book:
Some members of the family, past and present, have
claimed that Frederic William Farrar, D.D., F.R.S., (1831–1903) [Archdeacon
of Westminster, Dean of Canterbury from 1895–1903, Chaplain in Ordinary to
Queen Victoria, author (The Life of Christ; The Life and Works of St.
Paul; Early Days of Christianity; Julian Home, A Tale of College Life;
the schoolboy story of Eric, or Little by Little, and others)] and
Archdeacon Thomas Farrar are related because of their Yorkshire roots.
Although such claims may have merit, no proof of any direct blood link has
yet been discovered. However, we now know that there is an indirect
connection between the two families arising from the marriage of Edith Celia
Packard (1871–1962) and ALFRED FARRAR. Celia Packard’s mother, Lady
Ellen Packard (née Turner), (d. 1927) had an aunt named Caroline
Turner, who married the Reverend Charles Pinhorn Farrar (1799–1877). Charles
Pinhorn Farrar was the father of Dean Farrar, as he is generally known. Dean
Farrar’s daughter, Maud Farrar (1865 –1949), married Bishop Sir Henry
Hutchinson Montgomery (1847–1932) and their son, Field-Marshal Viscount
Montgomery of Alamein, K.G., G.C.B., D.S.O. (1887–1976), was the renowned
World War II British army commander.
If anyone has any information that could link the two Farrar families
please let us know.
Links with Guiana
One surprise discovery when we
cleared all the weeds around Walter’s grave plot was that the grave adjoining the Alice
Beatie (daughter of the bishop) grave, and
looking at the graves the grave to the left, was that of Emma Louisa Piercy
Stevenson who died on April 19th 1932 aged 71 years. She was the daughter of
Francis James Wyatt, Archdeacon of Demerara and wife of Philip Arthur Stevenson,
Canon of St. George’s Cathedral, British Guiana.
Emma Louisa Piercy Stevenson plot 1977
Francis James Wyatt (left) with daughter Emma L (seated) and
husband Philip Arthur Stevenson (standing); the boy behind is FJW's son Tom;
lady at front left FJW's other daughter Marie; lady at front right is nanny
Martha with Emma's children Francis and William, taken in Demerara, BG about
Photograph kindly provided by Brodnax Moore (Great Grandson of Emma Stevenson) via Michael Grace
A copy of an obituary for Emma
Stevenson dated 25th April, 1932 has been kindly provided by Richard Farrar:
25th April, 1932 -The death
occurred at Bognor Regis on Tuesday of Mrs. Stevenson, widow of Canon Philip
Arthur Stevenson, of Demerara. She was the eldest daughter of the late Ven.
Francis J. Wyatt, B.D., Archdeacon of Demerara, was married to Canon
Stevenson in 1881, and was with him in Demerara for the greater part of his
long ministry there. Later Canon Stevenson did duty in various English
parishes, including Redbourn, Stoke Poges, and Sidcup. Mrs. Stevenson, like
her husband, lived a life of true unselfishness and was beloved by all who
knew her. Her eldest son, Mr. F.P. Stevenson, is a housemaster at Redley
college, while her eldest daughter ("Lassie") is married to Commander Norman
C. Moore, D.S.O., M.V.O., R.N.
The 1913 Crockford’s Clerical
Directory shows that Philip Arthur Stevenson was rector of St. Paul’s, Demerara
from 1884-1908 and it will be noted that the 6 youngest children of Walter’s
parents starting with his brother Piercy (b 1873) through to his youngest sister
Edith (b 1882) were all born at the same St. Paul’s rectory, Sparendaam (Plaisance), on
the Demerara coast (approximately 5 miles east of Georgetown - see the map
St. Paul's Church, Plaisance, East Coast, Demerara
Mr. Richard Farrar has advised us that according to
Archdeacon Thomas Farrar’s book Notes on the History of the Church in Guiana,
Rev Philip Arthur Stevenson (later Canon) was Rector of St. Paul’s, in 1884 and
succeeded Thomas Farrar in that position after Thomas was appointed one of the
first Canons of St George’s Cathedral.
It would seem therefore that the two families would
have known each other very well. This might explain how Philip's wife (just 4 years older than
Walter) being buried alongside the Farrar graves in Bognor Regis 16
years after Walter’s death came about and possibly the result of action by
Walter's widow Alice.
Mr Tim Smellie has also been able
to clarify that though not actually related, it seems that the Wyatt and Austin
families knew each other well. Charles Guy Austin Wyatt, doubtless a son of Ven.
Francis Wyatt, was given Austin as a forename. Also Francis’ daughter, Emma had
a forename of Piercy, the surname of Bishop Austin’s mother.
Tim has been able to provide the following wedding details of Emma to Philip:
“STEVENSON-WYATT.- On the 6th October, 1881, at the ProCathedral,
Georgetown, Demerara, by the Rev. W.G.G. Austin, M.A. , Chaplain to the
Bishop of Guiana, the Rev. Philip Stevenson, M.A., examining Chaplain to the
late Bishop of Worcester and Hon. Canon of Worcester Cathedral, to Emma
Louisa Piercy, eldest daughter of the Ven. Francis J. Wyatt, B.D., Rector of
St George’s, Georgetown, and Archdeacon of Demerara.”
St George’s Pro-Cathedral 1877-92
The temporary Pro-Cathedral erected in the grounds of the Deanery at
the north-west corner of the Church and Carmichael Streets,
Georgetown, 1877-92. The previous St. George's Cathedral [1842-1877]
foundations were inadequate for the brick structure and the building
was condemned as unsafe in 1877 and dismantled. The Pro-Cathedral
was in use until the present St. George’s Cathedral was opened in
Clearly St. George's Cathedral
features prominently in this remarkable story emanating from Guiana and the new
St. George's Cathedral that was opened in 1892 to replace the pro-Cathedral has
a most surprising link with Bognor besides the association of both places with
Walter Farrar - St. John's Church that Walter was vicar of and the new St.
George's Cathedral were designed by the same celebrated architect
Sir. Arthur William Blomfield (1829-1899) - just six years after
St. John's church was consecrated (1886).
The Present St George's Cathedral, Georgetown,
‘The foundation-stone of the building, which was designed by Sir A.
Blomfield, was laid in 1889, and in 1892 Bishop Austin, Primate of
the West Indies, celebrated his jubilee as a bishop and officiated
in the Cathedral for the first time. A special feature of the fabric
is its immense height, which is well calculated to show off to
advantage the magnificent timber of the colony of which it is
constructed. The altar rails were the gift of Professor Austin of
Salt Lake City. The lectern was given by the Church of Barbados on
the occasion of Bishop Austin’s jubilee. The Gothic Shrine made of
carved oak in the north-west transept was dedicated in 1930 to the
memory of Bishop William Piercy Austin and his successor, as Bishop
of Guiana, Bishop W. P. Swaby.’
[Source: ‘The Pocket Guide to the West
Indies’ by Sir Algernon Aspinall., C.M.G., C.B.E., published by
Sifton, Praed & Co., Ltd., London, New & Revised Edition 1931, First
Published in 1907]
Tim Smellie kindly provided an
article about the new cathedral which included a section about the architect:
and designs were invited and those of Mr F.J. Cockerill for a building after
the Italian style were almost accepted, but he died before approval was
given. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge introduced Mr Arthur
Blomfield (later Sir Arthur Blomfield, a gold medalist of the Royal
Institute of British Architects). His first plans were for a building in
stone with a central tower and two western towers, but these were rejected
because of the weight and the expense. Blomfield sent out a soil architect
to advise on the foundations, but his findings were not respected by the
Colony's leading engineers and the Vestry. Blomfield himself never visited
British Guiana. If he had experienced tropical rain, it is doubtful whether
he would have created so many gulleys in the roof structure, the cause of
many problems. Finally his drawings for a wooden Cathedral were accepted and
some of his original working drawings dated 1888 are still in existence.
Sir Arthur Blomfield's designs were
just two years after St. John's was consecrated but the article above confirms
that he never actually visited British Guiana (the reference to rain
problems with the roof suggests that he should!) and as he died in 1899,
sixteen years before Walter Farrar moved to Bognor, it seems improbable that
Walter was aware of the Cathedral architect's earlier project at the church
where he ended his days as vicar.
Why the Parish of Bognor?
So why did Walter Farrar resign his
bishopric of Bishop of British Hondurus and Central America in 1915 and come to
England to end his much travelled and illustrious ecclesiastical career as vicar
of the Parish of Bognor ? It may be that by 1915 he was very aware of his
failing health and if there was a vacancy at Bognor this would have been
attractive as the seaside town was known for its therapeutic sea-air qualities - a quality that led
in 1928 to king George V's convalescence at Craigweil House, Aldwick, Bognor and which resulted in the Regis title on the king's
After spending a great deal
of his life in the West Indies it would not have been unusual in those
days for him to have contracted a tropical disease but his death certificate
records that he died of liver cancer and exhaustion.
Of one thing we can be fairly sure,
it is very unlikely that the Parish will ever again have to record a vicar with
such an interesting and travelled career and it is a great pity that his tenure
was so short. As the Rev. H. Crawford Hunter recorded at his passing -
'A great man has left us, but his
life and influence will remain with us. He died on the Feast of St. Nicholas,
Bishop, the Patron Saint of Children. We in Bognor must try to be worthy of one
who was indeed a Father in God to us'
John Hawkins and
Another interesting find during the Hawthorn Rd. cemetery visit to Walter
Farrar's grave was to learn that the grave immediately to the right of Walter’s
grave is that of Rev.
(plot 1973) who died on 8th August 1915 and was vicar of Bognor from
1913 – 1915.