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191 2

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Richard Clay and Sons, Limited,
brunswick street, stamford street, s.e.,



First Edition, 191 1.
Reprinted % 191a.

. •



I ESTEEM it a privilege to give to this book a word
of introduction and benediction. For more than thirty
years I reckoned William Benham among my close
personal friends. In one sense we were all his pupils,
for we were continually learning from him, and that in
different and very unconventional ways. He had, as
everybody who came into contact with him found, a
curiously wide range of miscellaneous knowledge,
and I have always ascribed to the discipline of his
early years of Elementary School work at West
Meon and at Chelsea the power he possessed of
imparting that knowledge in a simple and yet an
original way. His four successive parishes — Adding-
ton, Margate, Marden, and St. Edmund's — are totally
different in character and congregation, but in each
of them he " held " his people, and became in his own
peculiar way the personal friend and confidant of
men, women, and children who had little else in

All the while his pen was never idle, and there was
a freshness of its own in what he wrote, whether it
was exegetical, biographical, archaeological, or
personal. For several years he helped me in com-
piling from an almost unlimited mass of letters and
papers the Biography of Archbishop Tait, and I can
never forget the generous and good-humoured loyalty
with which he used time after time to accept my
decision upon the questions of inclusion or omission
which vex a biographer's soul, even when, as some-
times happened, the decision meant to him the fruit-
lessness of hours or even days of harassing work.

His books and miscellaneous writings speak for
themselves. No one could call him an exact scholar,
but there was a tireless freshness and energy, and



sometimes a real originality of thought in what he
wrote, and these, for the average reader to whom he
appealed, are more valuable gifts by far.

But his originality as a teacher and preacher was, I
had almost said, the least of his gifts. His depth of
simple Evangelical piety, disguised in ordinary social
life by his somewhat brusque humour and his out-
spoken criticism of men and things, made itself felt
at once when he was in touch with sorrow and sick-
ness and sin. As one who has known long illnesses,
I can testify to the value I learned to set upon his
quiet and earnest talk at such times, and no one, I
think, who received the Holy Communion at his
hands in a sick room will forget the inexpressible
solemnity and pathos of his simple ministration.

" Noscitur a sociis" is a familiar saying, and
similarly it may be said that we are entitled to esti-
mate a man's true value by the appreciation in which
he is held by men and women whose opinion in such
matters " counts." It is a striking tribute to William
Benham's worth that he was a trusted friend of men
so widely different as Archbishop Tait, Bishop
Creighton, Alexander Macmillan, Sir Frederick
Maurice, Bishop Potter of New York, and, in a more
general way, of Dean Stanley, Bishop Lightfoot,
Lady Wake, and many more whose appreciation
was worth having. People might or might not
agree with him in opinion. They could hardly fail, if
they knew him well, to respect and even love him as
a man. If the alertness and versatility of his mind
evoked our ceaseless interest, the tender aflectionate-
ness of his spirit and the sterling character of his
Christian life gave him a yet deeper hold upon what
was best and most responsive in our hearts.

Randall Cantuar.

August 4/A, 191 1



Memoir vii

1889. Wantage. Chalfont S. Giles 1

1890. The Meon Valley. Waltham Abbey ... n
1892. Byzantine Fonts. From the East .... 27
1894. Bury St. Edmunds. S. Mark's College . . 175

1896. Sir Christopher Wren. Lambeth Palace . 192

1897. Charterhouse. St. Albans 222

1898. History of London 235

1902. Coronation RourE 247

In Memoriam 271


My father, William Benham, was born in the little
village of Westmeon, Hampshire, on January 15,
183 1. His parents were in humble circumstances, and
had neither the means nor the opportunity of doing
anything for the education of their only child beyond
sending him to the village school. In these days when
scholarships are given away by the hundred it is com-
paratively easy for a boy of exceptional ability or
ambition to rise to the University, and so to qualify
for any profession to which he may be suited, but
there were no such royal roads to learning in those
days, and if young Benham had any consciousness
of the power that was in him, the chance of finding
any scope for that power must have seemed most
remote. The story of those early days is best told in
his own words published in the " Treasury " some
years ago.

" Being an only child and so made much of by the


old folks at home " [his parents had married late in
life]," I was a good deal shut up in myself. I used to
read my grandfather's old books and some that I
borrowed from the slender store of our cottage
neighbours. I remember even now with a thrill of
ecstasy how I read and re-read two thus borrowed,
'The Pilgrim's Progress/ and 'The Old English
Baron.' They are both favourites with me still.
But oh! How shall I tell it — I found in an old
cupboard an ancient black-letter copy of Sir John
Mandeville's travels with rough cuts, and devoured
it. But when I told my mother of the wonders it
disclosed she looked into it for herself, which she had
never done before, and, promptly pronouncing it a
pack of lies, she tore it up and threw it into the fire.
I wonder what a book collector of to-day would have
given for that book ! The Rector of our parish, Dr.
Henry Vincent Baylcy, was a man of profound
classical learning. Porson declared him the best
Greek scholar of his day. I have known two
distinguished Bishops who were his pupils —
Christopher Wordsworth of Lincoln, and his brother
Charles of St. Andrews.

" Our old Rector was a pluralist, holding an arch-
deaconry, a canonry of Westminster and two livings.
When he came to reside here he built a handsome


rectory house and made great improvements in the
church. For example, there had been no vestry ; his
predecessor put on his surplice before the people and
exchanged it in like manner for the black gown at
sermon time. But, what was yet more important, Dr.
Bayley built schools for boys, girls and infants.
The reader will see at once how much this means.
The Rector's school prospered. Neither master nor
mistress was well educated. The mistress in course
of time married in the village, and in after years I
was really startled to find out how little she knew.
The master was the son of a gentleman's butler, but
was industrious and painstaking and really worked
hard, I am sure, to improve himself. He bought
Chambers's 'Information for the People,' Bishop
Davey's little ■ History of England,' (S.P.C.K.), and
Guy's ' Geography ' and as times went he did not
make a bad schoolmaster. To him, then, I was sent,
if I am not mistaken, just about the time of Queen
Victoria's accession ; and with him I remained six
full years. All this while I was pursuing my lonely
career, as I may call it, reading at home and keeping
much to myself. The Bible was our only reading
book at school, and so I have always known the text
of that thoroughly. Besides the books I have named,
friends lent me Goldsmith's Histories of England,


Greece and Rome. Somebody gave me a book on
Ants; and I got my mother's biggest pie-dish, filled
it with earth and settled a colony of Ants
therein, surrounding them with water that they
should not escape. I settled them under a hawthorn
tree in the garden, got for them materials such as the
book described, and spent many an hour watching
them day by day. And the result of all this was that
I got beyond my schoolmaster in all branches of
knowledge, and he knew it, and without confessing
his ignorance he many a time pumped me where he
found himself at fault. And then one day my small
triumphs were yet increased when the Rector brought
Dr. Wordsworth, the Head Master of Harrow, and
his father the ex-Master of Trinity, to the school, and
proceeded to examine us. And I was able to tell
him not only the names of the provinces of ancient
Greece, but the islands of the Archipelago with their
situations. It was an additional recommendation to
them that Wordsworth had just then published his book
on ancient Greece. I believe they were all taken by
surprise. But this was not the end. The old Rector
was rapidly becoming blind, and on April 1 3, 1843 s it
any wonder that I should be particular as to the day ?)
he sent for me to read to him. I went daily from
that time onwards. Sometimes it was the Lessons and


Psalms for the day, sometimes the newspaper. I was
especially charged to look out for anything about Dr.
Pusey, or Mr. Newman. For the old Rector was a
bosom friend of Hugh James Rose, and was one of the
party at the meeting at Hadleigh Rectory in 1833
which was one of the signal events of the Tract Move-
ment. He afterwards backed out of it. I must break
off for another incident that bore fruit. This was the
time of church restoration and the revival of Gothic
architecture, the time which saw the formation of the
Camden and the Ecclesiological Societies. I need not
here repeat what everybody now knows, that the new
architects had to learn their business and made many
mistakes in the course of their education. Our old
church had been cruelly handled in the 18th century'
and it was not strange that Dr. Bayley did not recog-
nise the curious archaeological interest that underlay
the deeds of vandalism. So he commissioned a
young architect just then coming into note, Mr
George Gilbert Scott, to design a new church. It was
done and agreed to by the parishioners and on
August 9, 1843, the old Rector laid the foundation
stone. He was now quite blind and his hand had to
be guided. There is no passage in my life which I
can to-day see more vividly than I see that in the
book of my memory. All this time I was daily by


his bedside or in his study, reading to him or being
instructed by him in curious old lore.

" But a new curiosity was now awakened within me.
There had been a Latin inscription on the foundation
stone. Here it is; I can remember every word of

4 Antiquo Dei jam ruente templo, huncce primum
aedis novae lapidem posuit H. V. Bayley D.D. Rector
cum J. Hicks et W. Moody, aedituis.'

" I pored over that deeply and a few days later
mustered up courage to ask the doctor what it meant.
He bade me sit down while he dictated the translation,
and I can remember, as if it were only yesterday, how
he hesitated over the rendering of ruente, whether it
should be ' becoming ruinous/ or 'falling into decay.'
He chose the latter. And what came of this ? On
August 20 following he bade me go to his study table
and find a book in the rack, Blomfield's Greek
Testament, and there and then he taught me the
letters. I was to turn to the Gospel of St. John and
then he told me each letter, % Ev apyi), etc. As soon
as I could spell it out he taught me how to translate
by the help of the English, by what is called the
Hamiltonian System. The result was that by the end
of the year I could translate my Greek Testament
very fairly. Charles Wordsworth, who was then a


master at Winchester, rode over one day and heard
me read. On another occasion I read to Hallam, the
historian, and Chief Justice Tindal, and some other
friends of the dear old man, who had come down to
visit him."

My father cherished the memory of Westmeon and
its associations all his life, and the Rector, in the
obituary notice that appeared in the parish Magazine
last August, says,

" I well remember receiving a Christmas card from
him shortly after I became Rector, in which he quoted
some familiar lines of the Latin poet, Horace, to the
effect that Westmeon had a closer hold on his heart
than any other corner of the earth, and that if it were
possible he would fain end his days there."

Archdeacon Bayley died in 1844, leaving instruc-
tions that the education of the pupil in whom he had
taken such interest should be carried on, and
accordingly he was entered as one of the first students
at S. Mark's College, Chelsea, recently opened by the
National Society, under the head mastership of the
Rev. Derwent Coleridge, son of the poet. His con-
nexion with S. Mark's lasted for many years, as after
being away for some time teaching in a school, acting
as private tutor to Sir John Sebright, and attending
lectures at King's College (where he came under the


influence of Mr. F. D. Maurice) he returned in 1857
as one of the tutors. His title for Orders was obtained
from S. Mark's, and there he preached his first sermon.
The contemporaries of his student days have all
passed away, but there are several men doing work
for the Church in all parts of the world who recall his
influence and his teaching when they were his pupils.
The following notes are by two of them.

My earliest recollections of Canon Benham are con-
nected with a course of lectures on the Old Testament
delivered at S. Mark's College in the sixties. He
was one of a group of Lecturers under the Principal,
Derwent Coleridge, who in a remarkable degree im-
pressed their individualities upon their pupils.

Canon Benham's lectures were carefully written out
and slowly and even solemnly delivered, as though
from the very heart of his subject, and gave one the
impression, which I have never forgotten, of an
almost aweful reverence for God in History. He
made many of us feel, I think, that as all life is an
unfolding of the One, Eternal Life, so typal lives and
typal national histories are but the underlining of the
revealed will of God in His providential government
of the world.

In private talks he was constantly referring one to
the ' clear strong thoughts ' of Maurice, Trench and
Robertson of Brighton, and later reading, thought
and experience have made me very grateful to him
for this healthy corrective to writings and views of
a different school of thought. Yet he was always


generous and sympathetic to the manysidedness of
truth and its various outward forms of expression, and
whatever success may have blessed my own ministerial
work amongst men of differing qualities, characters
and experience, has I think been largely due to
the influence of the Canon's broad and generous
outlook on truth and his delightfully human and
humorous sympathies.

As I look back over an unbroken guidance and
friendship of forty years, I feel I must often have
been a trial to him, but he never shewed impatience,
and on more than one disciplinary occasion I can
remember a depth of spiritual discernment and
sympathy that made his formal lectures and sermons
very real and made one feel at the time, and realise
afterwards, that he was no mere paper lecturer or
formal priest, but was one who had bought his
freedom at a great price, one who had faced and
fought himself, and was teaching from experience.

" You must read for Holy Orders " said he one day
to me. I answered " I do not feel that I have any
vocation." " Then wait till you have," said he at once,
" but read and pray as if you had."

Years after I remembered his words when the call,
which delighted him, came to me. He at once
offered me his Curacy at Margate where he was
Vicar, but I had decided to accept the call of the first
Day of Intercession for Missions in 1873, and went to
South Africa. Throughout the whole of my 33 years'
work and life his friendship never failed, and I was
always sure of a warm welcome from my old tutor
and Mrs. Benham at Finsbury Square.


On one of my three holidays he gave me a week of
Sermons for my diocese of Mashonaland at S.
Edmund's, Lombard Street, with excellent monetary
results, and on my enforced retirement through ill-
health (now happily restored), shewed the deepest
interest as of old in our anxieties.

As I stood by his grave in Addington Churchyard
I thought of a remark he had solemnly made to me
some forty years before as we walked into Church, " I
always feel when going into Church as if I was going
to judgment."

Underneath his gay and humorous exterior, and
an almost brusque contempt for shams, there was a
childlike reverence for holy things, a manly awe and a
holy fear which made one feel that here was one who,
whilst bowing down before the Majesty of Truth, knew
likewise the sweet personal friendliness of the Love of
God and man.

William Gaul, Bishop.
Formerly Bishop of Mashonaland.

By the death of Canon Benham St. Mark's has been
deprived of one of the most distinguished of her sons.
William Benham commenced at an early age his
connexion with the College when it was quite a
new institution of only four years old, and completed
his training in 1847.

He spent a portion of the next ten years in
Westminster as an assistant in the Blue Coat School,
then a thriving institution under Dr. Waters, and
formed friendships which proved lifelong.

When we first met him he was a young clergyman,


one of our tutors, who had begun his duties and been
ordained in 1857, and admitted to Priest's orders in
1858. The Jubilee of this latter event we were three
years ago, by the initiative and hospitality of the
present Principal, enabled to celebrate at the

We soon discovered that in Mr. Benham we had a
lecturer in Divinity and in English literature of no
ordinary powers or methods ; that besides teaching
and preaching to us he had duties at Queen's College,
and was in touch with the Rev. F. D. Maurice, to
whom some of us had the honour of being introduced.
He used to tell how on one occasion when he had
suddenly been called upon to take a service and
preach for the Professor, he had heard on leaving the
church one gentleman remark, " I thought Maurice
was an older man ; " the other answering, " Well, it
wasn't much of a sermon." One of my few surviving
fellow-students writes, " I have always been interested
in the rapid progress of the little man who used to
traverse the passages and corridors of the dear old
College, despising all sham, and down on all cringing
and insincerity. How many times have I thanked
God for having drawn me for two years' study under
such a noble band of tutors, where character was the
thing aimed at ! " Mr. Benham was always approach-
able and sympathetic, won the confidence of the men
and remained their friend when professional ties had
been severed.

Some of his work he had had to lay aside of late
years, but his keen love of music found him at the
Handel Festival at the Crystal Palace last year



enjoying to the full the massive choruses of " Israel
in Egypt " ; while his love for Archaeology induced
him to come last spring with the St. Paul's Ecclesio-
logical Society to St. Margaret's, Westminster, and
patiently listen to an old pupil's endeavours to tell
the history and associations of that church, and to
instruct him once again by informing him of an
event recorded in the church's registers of which he
had been ignorant. Written in characteristic fashion
the note that followed the visit told how Mrs. Benham
and he had enjoyed their jaunt that afternoon."

Emery Hill's Hospital,

Rochester Row.

He was ordained Priest in 1858, and fifty years
later, 1908, the students of S. Mark's, past and
present, presented him with a beautiful silver bowl
with this inscription — " Presented to Canon Benham
by old friends at S. Mark's on the Jubilee of his
Priesthood, 1 858- 1908."

The next few years were spent in London where
he was engaged in literary rather than in parochial
work. I Ie was for most of this time tutor at S. Mark's,
editorial secretary to the S.P.C.K., and Sunday reader
at S. Lawrence Jewry, during the Rectorship of Dr.
Cowie, afterwards Dean of Manchester. His first
parish was at Addington, the country residence in
those days of the Archbishops of Canterbury. The


family tradition is that Miss Rosamund Longley was
staying at Nun Appleton, Yorkshire, with Sir William
and Lady Georgina Milner, when my father was
acting as locum tenens there for his summer
holiday. She was so much struck by his powers as a
preacher that on her return to London she persuaded
her father, Archbishop Longley, to go and hear him,
with the result that shortly after, when, in 1867,
Addington was made a separate parish instead of
being an offshoot of Shirley, he made my father the
first Vicar. Addington was near enough to London
for him to keep various appointments he had, notably
that of Professor of Modern History at Queen's
College, Harley Street, to which he had been appointed
as successor to Mr. F. D. Maurice in 1866. As Vicar
of Addington he attended Archbishop Longley in his
last illness and was present at his death.

He found life at Addington very interesting, and
enjoyed the opportunity for his literary work, which
was more abundant at that time than for many years
after. He edited the " Globe " edition of Cowper's
works, wrote the " Companion to the Lectionary," and
was responsible for several Commentaries published by
the S.P.C.K. Just before he left Addington Arch-
bishop Tait gave him the Lambeth degree of B.D.,
and made him one of the Six Preachers of Canterbury,

b 2


and this office he held until 1888, when Archbishop
Benson made him instead an Honorary Canon of the
same Cathedral. His life was shadowed there by
the death of my mother, but on the whole it was a
peaceful, happy time.

In 1873 Archbishop Tait appointed him Vicar of
Margate, and thereby the whole tenor of his life was
changed. The fine old Norman Church was badly
in need of restoration, and in many ways there
was ample scope for his energies and powers. He
was much beloved by his parishioners, and this showed
itself in various ways. For instance, there was an
election- for the first School Board, and without any
canvassing or special effort on his part he was returned
at the head of the poll, and acted as Chairman for
many years. The former Vicar, Canon Bateman,had
started a Church Institute in the town, and this under
my father quickly became the centre of all sorts of
literary and parochial interests. He gave courses of
lectures during the winter which were always well
attended by all classes and schools of thought.
lavish visiting in its ordinary sense he was not fond
of. I remember well the look of pathetic appeal he
once gave me when he was called upon, by some old
woman we were visiting together, to taste the medi-
cine which had been sent her by the doctor for some


trifling ailment. But where there was sorrow or
suffering or anything in the way of distress of mind
he was always ready to go, and invariably brought
comfort and relief. It was the sheer force of his sym-
pathy and intense humanity that made him so
universally beloved. The letters that poured in by
the hundred after his death all testified to the
affection in which he was held by all who knew him.
Several were from men and women who had been
boys and girls at school at Margate when he was
Vicar there, some of whom he never knew personally.
But they all spoke of the lessons they had learnt from
him, and how they had all loved him. Speaking of
the letters we had — there was one that touched us very
much. It was from a poor man who sells penny toys
from a little tray outside the Bank of England. "We
poor hawkers," it said, " will miss his cheery kind
face, and we always called him our chaplain." We
wished he could have known of this title, for it
would have been one after his own heart.

While at Margate he edited the Memoirs of Arch-
bishop Tait's wife and son, which were published
under the title of " Catherine and Craufurd Tait."

In 1880 Archbishop Tait gave him the living of
Marden, in Kent, but we only stayed there two and a
half years. In 1882 the Archbishop came to


Marden to consecrate a new Churchyard. No men-

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