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Monica Jones on the Life and Times of Rev. Craddock Glascott

[Marian Southwick] (0:00 – 0:32)

Today is the 26th of March 2024. I am Marian Southwick interviewing Monica Jones, Secretary of the Local History Society on the life and times of Craddock Glasgow. The recording is taking place in the Old Schools and forms part of the Heritage Lottery funded project to preserve and record heritage relating to St John the Baptist Church in Hatherleigh. For much of this interview Monica is reading from her notes gleaned from the History Society archives. Thank you Monica.

[Monica Jones] (0:32 – 9:25)

Thank you. Craddock Glasgow was born in Wales in 1742 and after finishing at school he went up to Jesus College Oxford where he took an arts degree.

His parents were close friends of John and Charles Wesley and other well-known figures of the 18th century Evangelical revival. Craddock from an early age knew many of the outstanding Christians of the day and it came as no surprise that at the age of 22 he himself was converted. John Wesley wrote to Craddock in May of 1764 giving him his blessing and wishing him well on his chosen path.

However his first posting as a curate to the vicar of Cheveley in Berkshire did not go well. Being a Welshman Craddock had a way with words but his preaching was not appreciated by this vicar. Many of the parish were converted to a Christian life in the two years he was curate but he found himself turned out of the curacy as the vicar couldn’t stand the young man’s Christian fervour.

Craddock went to London to be ordained as a priest and whilst there called on George Whitefield a silver-haired silver-tongued preacher who gave him his gown or clerical dress to wear when being presented to the bishop.
The bishop paid Craddock marked attention for there were very few other candidates who had bothered to dress appropriately. The others the bishop remarked were lax and lifeless as was the condition of the Anglican church at the time.

Craddock Glasgow was not sure how he was going to live with no curacy or how he was going to do any good but luckily he was introduced to a great Christian lady Selina Countess of Huntingdon who with her considerable fortune urged forward the evangelical revival. Craddock was made one of her chaplains and she paid his salary as he travelled all over the country for 14 years preaching in chapels and churches and open-air events. As was the case in those times Craddock’s reception varied from a warm welcome to antagonism and including actual physical violence.

As he rode towards a town in the north he was set upon by a who pulled him from his horse and a man arrived with a bucket of blood from the local slaughter house nearby and tipped it over Craddock’s head to a cry from the mob of baptise him. They left him to ride on into their town which he did quite undisturbed by what had happened. In other towns he preached to as many as 2,000 in a crowd and even recorded in his journal in 1781 a congregation of 5,000 in Nottingham.

As he approached his 40th birthday he was offered the parish of Hatherleigh. The living of Hatherleigh had belonged to the Yeo family who owned Fishley but had been sold to James Ireland of Brislington Hall Bristol and it was he who presented it to Craddock Glasgow. Much to the annoyance of the Countess of Huntingdon Craddock gave up the life of the wandering preacher and settled for almost 50 years in the parish.

Craddock Glasgow was instituted to the vicarage of Hatherleigh on the 7th of December 1781, a parish of great poverty and depression. It had declined greatly since the more prosperous days of the wool trade. He stirred things up with his zealous preaching and met with lots of opposition.

The choir resigned and some parishioners complained to the Bishop of Exeter of this methodistic person that brought doctrines that they were unaccustomed to hearing. The Bishop replied that he was glad to have an energetic man of God in the parish. Soon after coming to Hatherleigh Craddock Glasgow married a widow from Bath, Mary Arthur, and they went on to have five children. The youngest daughter, Selina, named after the Countess, died at the age of two having fallen out of the vicarage window and been killed. For 20 years after having won Lady Huntington’s forgiveness Craddock would preach for six years every summer in her chapels in London and Bath. Craddock Glasgow was strong and healthy and was never prevented from taking services by illness the whole time he was in Hatherleigh. Always dressed in the costume of the time, shoes, stockings, buckles, knee breeches, open cutaway coat and shovel hat, the people would see him walking about the parish a weeding iron in hand. He farmed his own glebe and was said to be an enemy of all weeds, literal and figurative. At first sight some said he looked stern but he was also known for his sweet smile and noble bearing, a man people respected.

His interest in spreading the word of God far and wide led him to opening the first branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1824. The parish sent five pounds per annum for six years to the Church Missionary Society for the education and training of an African youth in Sierra Leone and he was named after Craddock. He also set up a school for poor children in Hatherleigh open on Sundays and weekdays and this was the beginning of one of the first Sunday schools in the land. When Craddock first came to Hatherleigh he discovered an unseemly rebel took place on Ascension Day at Lua which was on the edge of the town. Near this place was a coppice called Holy Well Wood and the well was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This is now known as St Mary’s Well and is a small pool of water and quite hard to find in the undergrowth that surrounds it.

It was said whoever washed their eyes and hands in the well water on this day would be cured of diseases that affected these parts of the body. Another folk tale was that a love token of a posy of flowers laid there would find a person true love. Unfortunately with the sale of ale and buns and lots of wrestling, dancing and frolicking it degenerated into an orgy.

So to stop this rebel Craddock started the tradition which Hatherleigh still celebrates of a procession with banners around the town, games and a free tea followed by a service completed by the congregation girdling the church in a great circle holding hands and whilst an appropriate hymn was sung. Because of Craddock Glasgow’s popularity additional room had to be found in the church and this was provided by the erection of galleries. The singer’s gallery was at the west end of the middle aisle in front of the tower.

In 1812 a new gallery was added by subscription at the west end of the north aisle and this was put up at the expense of the schoolmaster Thomas Roberts to accommodate his 80 to 100 boarders. Still more room was needed and another gallery was built outside the north wall, the ground being high enough to build a much-needed vestry underneath the gallery. Up until then the east end of the south aisle had previously served this purpose.

The Sunday preceding his death Craddock Glasgow preached with his usual energy to the people of Hatherleigh. He had occupied the pulpit three times every Sunday and had preached 7,500 sermons in his time as a vicar. He died at the age of 89 on August the 11th 1831 and a week later he was buried in the chancel before a packed congregation.

A monument to his memory was later fixed over the chancel door. Craddock Glasgow once said I desire to have all my affairs in such a state that when my master sends his chariot to the door I may have nothing to do but step in and from all accounts it was a wish abundantly fulfilled.

[Marian Southwick] (9:25 – 9:28)

Thank you for collating that information Monica.

[Monica Jones] (9:28 – 9:29)

Thank you.