Rectors of the Parish

Rectors of Mulbarton with Kenningham

(Further information below on all names marked with an asterisk)

Rectors of Mulbarton

1329 Ralph de St. Omer
1330 Hugh de Wauncy
1339 Will. Hovell
-- Hugh de Wauncy
1352 Adam de Bilokby
1353 Philip Martin
-- Thomas de Blofield
1367 Thomas de Calkehille
1393 Richard de Dunstan
1419 Will. Serjeaunt
1434 John Elyot
-- Stephen Kirkeby

Rectors of Kenningham

1309 Roger Baste of Hasketone
1320 John de Thorpmarket
1349 Will de Strixton
1352 Adam Golle
-- Thomas de Ickworth
1398 Rich. Osteler of Taseburgh
1422 J. Glysse
-- Robert Stratton
1423 Richard Wilby
1426 Richard Howes of Tibenham
1433 Thomas Bradfield
1446 Will. Steynware (or Steynour)
(In 1452 Kenningham was united to Mulbarton)

Any remains of Kenningham Church are in the woodland North of Kenningham Cottages
Any remains of Kenningham Church are in the woodland North of Kenningham Cottages

Rectors of Mulbarton-with-Kenningham

1451 Robert Saunders
1471 Thomas Randoff, S.T.B.
1482 John Jullys
1494 Henry Falk, LL.D
1497 Edmund Davy
1500 Christopher Prentice
1511 Sir Richard Torkington *
1526 Alan Percy, M.A. *
1560 Richard Wolley
1571 William Richardson
1616 Anthony Frere, M.A. *
1660 Henry King, M.A.
1672 Daniel Scargill, B.A. *
1721 George Gay, M.A. *
1728 John Phillips, M.A. *
1737 James Verdon, M.A.
1741 Benjamin Lany *
1766 Peter Foster *
1812 Richard Spurgeon *
1842 Richard Gay Lucas, M.A. *
1891 Herbert Wilson, M.A.
1896 John Carleton Steward
1907 Edward Ewer Ward, B.A.
1931 Andrew Robert Vaughan Daubeney, M.A. *
1933 Charles Benjamin P. Ramsey, M.A.
1944 Alexander St. John Heard, M.A. *
1955 John Edward G. Mosby, DSO, MA, Ph.D. *
1960 Cecil John H. Sanderson *
1978 Geoffrey William Unwin, M.A.
1989 Richard Andrew James, MA, Dip.Th.
1993 Jess William Stubenbord, B.A. *
2014 Adrian Miller


Richard Torkington, Rector 1511-1526

Presented to Mulbarton by Sir Thomas Boleyn, father of Queen Anne Boleyn. He set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem on 20th March 1517, departing from the port of Rye, in Kent. His pilgrimage took 1 year, 5 weeks and 3 days, and he finished it at the shrine of St. Thomas a Beckett in Canterbury. He wrote a remarkable diary, published as "The Oldest Diary of English Travel". He is called 'Sir Richard' because he was a Priest but not a graduate of either University.

Alan Percy, Rector 1526-1560

Also presented to Mulbarton by Sir Thomas Boleyn, by then Earl of Rochester. He was a son of Henry, 4th Earl of Northumberland and brother of the 5th earl, who had wanted to marry Anne Boleyn. Before he became rector of Mulbarton, he was Prebendary of York Minster (1513-17); Rector of St. Anne's, Aldersgate, London (1515-18); Master of St. John's College, Cambridge (1516-18); Rector of St. Mary-at-Hill, London (1521-26). In 1558 he was also Rector of Earsham. A portrait of him was in the Guildhall, Norwich.

William Richardson, Rector 1571-1616

Unlike his two predecessors, he was a resident Rector - the registers describe him as "having lived incumbant of the said Towne over fortie yeares". Father of Sir Thomas Richardson, who became Speaker in 1621 and Lord Chief Justice of England in 1626.
Thomas Richardson was born in Hardwick, Norfolk on 3rd July 1569. As a boy, he must have listened here to his father's sermons in Mulbarton Church, and at age 13 he saw his mother laid to rest. He became a lawyer and then a judge. He became the MP for St. Albans in 1621, and was promptly elected Speaker and knighted on his first appearance at Whitehall. But he continued as a lawyer and judge.
At one trial, someone aimed a flint at his head - but as he was 'leaning low on his elbow in a lazy reckless manner' it only hit his hat. Afterwards he quipped, 'You see, if I had been an upright Judge I had been slain.'
Although he ruled that 'the prisoner ought not to be tortured by the rack, for no such punishment is allowed by law' he could also be very harsh. In his Diary, John Evelyn (whose father was at that time Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex) wrote, 'My father was afterwards most unjustly and spitefully molested by that jeering judge, Richardson, for reprieving the execution of a woman, but out of this he emerged with as much honour as trouble.'
Sir Thomas Richardson married twice - his first wife, Ursula, had 12 children, but his second wife, Elizabeth (a widow) had none. He died 4th February 1635 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Anthony Frere, Rector 1616-60

Married Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Hartstonge, 'sometime a farmer at Mulbarton Hall' (the Old Hall). They had at least 13 children - 9 sons and 4 daughters. Elizabeth died in 1553. He became rector under both Charles I and Charles II. During the Commonwealth he managed to stay in post (unlike the Rector of Swainsthorpe who was ejected with his wife and 3 children), probably because he was so well liked by his parishioners, who ignored various Acts of Parliament about Clergy activities. There is an inscribed slab to both Anthony Frere and his wife on the chancel floor (below), and another to their daughter, Mary, who was the wife of the Rector of Bircham Tofts and died in 1680.

Daniel Scargill, Rector 1672-1721

He became Vicar of Swardeston as well in 1690. He seems to have been heartbroken when his wife, Sarah, died in 1680, and put up the copper memorial to her in the shape of a book, with his poem on the second page (below). In it he also shows his loyalty to King Charles I. He married again, and when his second wife (also Sarah) died in 1718 he wrote 'Second to none' in the Church register.

George Gay, Rector 1721-28

George Gay is notable for building (or adding to) the Old Rectory. On his memorial in the Chancel (in Latin, below) he claims that 'at his own personal charge, and that a great one, he had built up from its foundations the residence of the Rector'. Presumably he added the large Georgian extension to the existing humble farmhouse. He is buried in the sanctuary, along with his wife Elizabeth who died in 1729.

John Phillips, Rector 1728-37

He added the great barn to the Rectory (built at his own expense), according to a slab in the sanctuary, which also shows he was a gentle, humble and friendly man 'whose care it was earnestly to win the good will of his flock and he won it'. He was only 37 when he died of a fever.

Benjamin Lany, Rector 1741-66

Also Rector of Wramplingham, though he lived in Mulbarton. His wife, Mary, lived to be 103; their youngest daughter, Mary, never married and lived to age 95.

Peter Foster, Rector 1766-1812

Lived at Hedenham, where he was also Rector, and appointed Curates to Mulbarton. The stipend for the two benefices was over £1000 a year. During his incumbancy, one curate, Philip Pyle, ministered in Mulbarton for over 30 years.

Richard Spurgeon, Rector 1812-42

Brought the ancient painted glass in the East Window when he moved from Martham, where he was Curate-in-charge. He repaired and beautified the church 'at his own expense' in 1815. He was a great collector - after his death at age 75 in 1842, it took 5 days for an auctioneer to sell the contents of the Rectory. There were 1025 lots and the catalogue was more than 40 pages! It described the contents as 'A magnificent assemblage of fine and rare old carvings, in wood, marble, ivory and bisque; beautiful enamels and miniatures; picturesque marbles, casts and medallions; antique Italian cabinet in marble mosaic; very valuable specimens of ancient painted glass; oil paintings, prints, etchings and drawings; a large collection of splendid Oriental and other China; trinkets and antiquities; capital library of books; grand pianoforte, plated goods, linen, glass; farming stock, carriages, implements, and other effects...'. Lot 142 on day 2 was a 'Roman sepulchral urn or Ossuria and pedestal, dug up at Caister near Norwich by the Rev. Richard Spurgeon, and Roman lamp'. There is an inscribed slab over his grave in the sanctuary, and memorials to both Richard Spurgeon and his wife Mary (who died in 1846), their son Richard who died in 1814 when only 12, and another son, John, and his wife and their two infant sons. The monument 'To the Memory of The Revrd Richard Spurgeon Thirty years Rector of this Parish' (below) includes coats of arms that can also be seen in the East Window he installed (see Church 'virtual tour')

Richard Gay Lucas, J.P., Rector 1842-91

Organised the Victorian 'restoration' of the church in 1875, when the porch was remodelled, the gallery removed, the north aisle and vestry added, the floor of the nave raised to accommodate the heating system, and pews, pulpit and reading-desks added.

Andrew Robert Vaughan Daubeney, M.A., Rector 1931-33

Wrote and published a brief history of Mulbarton with Keningham - on which much of the information here about the church is based.

Charles Benjamin P. Ramsey, M.A., Rector 1933-1942

Charles Ramsey moved to Mulbarton from East Carleton where he had been Rector from 1913 to 1933, apart from serving with the Norfolk Regiment in World War I. He had been involved in a number of Mulbarton activities - including the WW1 Volunteers. When he moved to Mulbarton he organised the alterations to the East end of the church, moving the boards with the Creed, Commandments and Lord's Prayer to the tower in 1937. They were replaced by the carved Reredos of St Mary Magdalen which was given by his wife, Ellen Mary (nee Eaton) and her sister (Alice Margaret Hetherington, nee Eaton, wife of a former Vicar of Swardeston) in memory of their father, Rev William Ray Eaton 1828-1915. (See photo & info. in Church 'tour'.)

2nd from left: Rev Charles Ramsay (when Rector of East Carleton) with the Special Volunteers he helped found.
2nd from left: Rev Charles Ramsay (when Rector of East Carleton) with the Special Volunteers he helped found.

Alexander St John Heard MA, Rector 1944-55

A plaque in the church tower records that he was also President of the Norwich Association of [Bell] Ringers from 1942 to 1955. He features in several of the Choir photos and choir members remember, 'His wife was an invalid so we did not know her, but he was one of the few people who had a private car which he used to drive along the common at about 5mph!' He was also Chairman and Correspondent of the School Managers and the school log book records: 25th Feb 1955 - Rev A St J Heard MA.... died suddenly in Norwich this morning while visiting his invalid wife in Thorpe Road Nursing Home.'

Rev A St John Heard seated centre with the church choir, 1946
Rev A St John Heard seated centre with the church choir, 1946

Dr. John Edward G. Mosby, DSO, MA, Ph.D, Rector 1955-60

An eminent Geographer and author of the 'Norfolk' volume of the 1938 Land Utilisation Survey of Britain. He taught geography at City of Norwich School (now Eaton-CNS) and went into the ordained ministry when he retired from teaching.

Cecil John H Sanderson, Rector 1960-1978

Also a teacher - at Wymondham College, where he was ordained and became College Chaplain, too. Known as Sandy, he was the last incumbent to live in the old rectory in Rectory Lane. Sandy was a prime mover in Mulbarton having a village sign, and its design is largely due to him. He and his wife, Mary, helped put the finishing touches to the current Rectory next to the church and lived there for a short time before retiring to Topcroft.

Rev Cecil J H Sanderson ('Sandy') at the unveiling of the Village Sign, July 1979
Rev Cecil J H Sanderson ('Sandy') at the unveiling of the Village Sign, July 1979

Jess Stubenbord, Rector 1992-2013

Appointed Priest-in-Charge whilst parishes in the area were reorganised, Jess Stubenbord became Rector of Bracon Ash & Hethel, and later of Flordon - parishes which became part of the Mulbarton Group. He visited D R Congo to cement links we already had with the Bukavu and Kindu Dioceses.

Rev Jess Stubenbord with Fidele Drokpa, Archbishop of Congo, and his wife
Rev Jess Stubenbord with Fidele Drokpa, Archbishop of Congo, and his wife