The influence of Rev Thomas F R Read
was not only huge in the village during his tenure in office from 1845 to 1865, but it is still in evidence today in bricks, mortar, stone, wood and slate!
Thomas was born in 1811, educated at Oxford University, and was ordained on 6th December 1835 at Bishopthorpe Parish Church. On the same date he was appointed as a Curate at
Everingham, his patron being William Alderson, the Vicar of Everingham. In the book, A Brief History of Winterton and the Surrounding Villages, author William Andrew tells us that in “1835 The
perpetual advowson of this living was sold by auction to the Rev J C Rudstone Reed [sic] of Frickley Hall, near Doncaster, for £6,050.” The exact relationship between the Rev JC Rudstone Reed, and
Thomas Rudston Read, isn’t known at present, but perhaps it was no coincidence that these events all happened in the same year.
There were other Rev Rudston Reeds too!
Could this be Thomas F R Read?
This much-enlarged enlarged part of the photograph of Winteringham Church by Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) reveals three figures.
We do not know for certain who they are ... but could the man on the right be Thomas FR Read ... with Louisa his first wife in the middle?
1845 was a momentous year for Winteringham, and possibly more for Thomas. He became the vicar at Winteringham - the first Rector to live in
the village since Thomas Adam, and on 21st May 1845, he married Louisa Lucy Erskine, the second daughter of Henry David Erskine, and Dean of Ripon. Her mother had been the Lady
Mary Harriet Dawson, who in turn was the daughter of John Dawson the First Earl of Portarlington. Her father was the son of Sir Thomas Erskine, the First Baron of Restormel Castle. She
was therefore very well connected, which is important at a later stage in the story of the Rudston Reads at Winteringham.
Thomas ensured that the building and opening of Winteringham National School, continued apace. Remember that
being a National School, it was very much a Church of England foundation, and the Rector was the prime influence in its building and day to day running. According to Rex Russell’s “A History of Schools and Education in Lindsey,
Lincolnshire, 1800-1902, Part 3” the National Society made a grant of £25 to Winteringham in 1846, and the school
also received a government building grant £80 in the same year, gaining a second grant in 1855 of £50.
The School opened on 17th November 1845, and the day before it did so, Thomas wrote the following information regarding its opening:
“Winteringham National School
The above school will be open for the reception of boys tomorrow morning, November 17th at 9 o’clock. No girls can
be accepted until the new schools are fit for use.
All the children who attend the day school will be expected to attend on Sunday.
No children will be allowed to remain in school unless they have been baptized and christened, or are anxious to be so the first opportunity.
It is particularly requested that the children will be sent to school punctually at 9 o’clock.
Until the new schools are opened the charges for instruction will be as follows; namely for the children of the poor 2d a week, and for those of farmers and tradespeople 3d. When more than two attend from one poor family 1d a week will be charged for the third.
All payments will be payed in advance every Monday morning. Each child will have to pay threepence for coals for the intervening between now and Christmas.
November 16th 1845
T F R Read, Rector
Note: It is understood that at the time of the writing of this letter, baptising and Christening were not one and the same thing (as we would now regard them). One was a private ceremony in the home soon after the birth, whilst the other was a public ceremony in Church.
By 1855, the School’s returns, showed that it was supported by £50 in subscriptions and donations, and by £29 in
“school pence” - an important source of income until 1891. We have no more information, but the “subscriptions and donations” were frequently substantially from the Rector.
Back to the first year of Thomas tenure, the first year of his marriage, and the first year of the National School in
Winteringham, and at about this time Mrs Rudston Read gave the happy news that she was pregnant, and in 1846 a
boy called Lionel was welcomed into the family. Tragedy struck however, with the infant Lionel dying. His
monumental inscription can be found in the churchyard - a low sandstone monument with a horizontal cross on top: “L.R.R. MDCCCXLVI”.
Tragic though the death of their son was, this did nothing to restrict the energy of Thomas in his improvements to the
life of the village. The Church building was still as it appears on the Home Page of this website. In 1846, the vestry
minute book stated that immediate repairs were required to the Church tower and belfry, and in 1847 a proposal for repairing and enlarging the church was made.
In 1847, the old Tudor Rectory, which had been the home of Edward Boteler, Thomas Adam, Lorenzo Grainger, and
for a short while Henry Kirke White the poet, was replaced by a new one to the west designed by York architect
George T Andrews. This had outbuildings, large gardens, an orchard, barn and stables. In the Census of 1851, there
were three servants living in the Rectory too - Ann Chadwick, the cook, Honor Pratt the housemaid, and Jonathan
Foster the groom. By the time of the next census in 1861, there were even more servants - five - though the census doesn’t detail their exact duties beyond “domestic servant” in each case.
The complete restoration of the Church occurred between 1849 and 1851, with George Andrews being the architect
responsible for the work, following his designs for the new Rectory. Local stone mason John Otter - who also
produced many of the churchyard headstones, and employed 6 men at the time - was the local foreman.
The chancel, aisles, and the transept were rebuilt, and the flatter roofs visible on the picture on the home page, were
replaced with steeply pitched ones, using slate, now available from the Welsh slate mines because of the advent of
the railways. The previous roofline is still visible if you stand in the body of the church and look up at the eastern wall of the tower.
New pews, flooring, stained glass windows at the eastern end, and in the south transept (restored in 2003) were
incorporated, and outside the porch, the wall round the churchyard and new gates.
So in 6 years as Rector, Thomas had overseen the building of the National School, a new Rectory, and extensive
alterations to the church building - all of which are still part of the village landscape today! Mr Otter the stonemason,
and Mr Reynolds the village carpenter had been paid a total of £1,150-2s-7d for their work.
The great day arrived when the church was to be re-opened, and Thomas, and Louisa were joined in the celebrations
by The Bishop of Ripon, and the Dean of Ripon - Louisa’s father. There were 30 other clergymen and the whole
village declared a holiday. A tent in the Rectory grounds was used to serve a public dinner for the inhabitants of the
village, served by Mrs Bell from the Bay Horse, and later in the afternoon Louisa provided the teas, along with other
ladies of the village. At evensong, Louisa’s father preached the sermon to a very large congregation and over £45 was collected towards the restoration costs.
The remainder of the decade seems to have been relatively quiet for the Rudston Reads after the flurry of activity in
their first 6 years in the village. However, it would appear that one of Louisa’s sisters married in Winteringham in September 1859. According to the diary of Alkborough man Thomas Harris, “There has been a wedding at
Winteringham Church this week. Miss Erskine, daughter of the late Dean of Ripon, was married to a Mr Fowler, who has been divorced, his wife having run off with a Duke’s son.”
In September 1863, Charles Dodgson, very shortly before he was to become world-famous as author Lewis Carroll of
Alice in Wonderland, visited the Reads with his sister Fanny. Charles Dodgson had been brought up in a vicarage
close to Ripon, and must have known Louisa as Miss Erskine at that time. It is thought that the “Gryphon” and the
rabbit diving down a hole, were inspired by a carving in Ripon Cathedral. An account of this is given on a separate page of this website, here. He took photographs of Rev Read and Henry Mitchell, who was the Curate of
Winteringham, on September 7th. Later in the week he took more photographs - of Louisa, the Rectory, the Church,
a child of the Curate from Alkborough and Whitton, and one or more of the school children from the National School. Only the photographs of the Church and of Louisa are known to still exist.
However, Louisa still had ‘connections’ and Charles Dodgson was keen to gain her help in being introduced to influential people so that he may photograph them also.
Early in 1865, the Reads left the village “for the sake of Mrs Read” and shortly before they were due to return, she
died on 12th April. Thomas was offered a similar position in the pretty Sussex village of Withyham, but he first
returned to Winteringham for the summer of 1865, selling his farm and then preparing for his new post.
The lectern in Winteringham Church is dedicated to Louisa.
Thomas remarried in 1867, to a lady by the name of Barbara Louise Fell, nee Thompson, and died in 1892. For more
information on Thomas’ life after Winteringham, visit the “Weald” site by clicking here.