Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

September 2008

This months News



Village History – Whatcote

Rev. James Gorle, 1806-1884

My son William has alerted me to the fact that there are, in the recesses of Cambridge University Library, publications of the mid nineteenth century by the Rev James Gorle, Rector of Whatcote.

With help from June Wreford, who supplied some information from the Whatcote Parish Registers, I have traced his life history.  Born in Tewkesbury in 1806, he was educated at Cambridge, where he won prizes for his scholarship.  He became Rector of Whatcote in 1842, remaining till his death in 1884.  Beside the memorial crosses to himself, and his wife Hannah in the churchyard, there is a poignant third, dedicated to three of their children who died in childhood or young adulthood.  His youngest son, William, followed him as Rector of Whatcote in 1884 but only for a year and a few years later (though he was still young and I cannot trace his death) he disappears from clerical records.

James Gorle was first and foremost a scholar, and his works are mainly analysis of the works of earlier theologians, (often with examination questions), varied only by a work of sacred poetry, one of versified fables, and a contribution to a book of sermons on the subject “Every good gift from above”.  (The date of this is right for it to have been preached from the Whatcote pulpit).

I do wonder whether such an academic man would have established much rapport with his parishioners, at a time when the Church was distancing itself from much of its flock by becoming more High Church, and Whatcote like Oxhill had a growing Methodist movement.  On his deathbed, Gorle dictated a message for his parishioners, (now displayed inside Whatcote Church) which does I think hint at some distance between them.  He asks pardon for his failings as a Minister, but also asks his flock - by my interpretation - to pull their socks up.  Such stern paternalism was however fairly typical of a Victorian Rector, so maybe he was just doing his job!

Ann Hale


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Last modified: September 03, 2008