A 'new broom' at Empingham
J.E. Swaby in his History of Empingham AD500-AD1900 observes that when Thomas’s predecessor at Empingham, a
somewhat cantankerous chap, died in 1892, the Bishop of Peterborough
exercised patronage of the benefice for the first
time in offering it to Thomas.
Swaby also notes that,
The Rev. T.W. Owen seems to have started regular collections for Church expenses soon after
his arrival, this on top of the usual collections made after the services. By 1893 he had instigated a Church Council though
such councils were not to become compulsory until 1919. Amongst other early reforms he may also have instigated evening
services, as there are payments in 1892 and 1893 to Thomas Bland for trimming and lighting the lamps. With regard to the oil
lamps, a couple of elderly residents of Empingham recalled Thomas
going into the Church one day and not returning home
when expected. When a search was made the Rector was found lying unconscious. One of the oil lamps suspended by a chain
from the roof had fallen on him and knocked him out.
Thomas was responsible for adding a sixth bell to the existing five at the church. It bears the inscription,
he that cometh in the name of the Lord, Ancaster 1895. Thomas William Owen, Rector. Robert Barrand and William Thomas
According to Ernest Mills in his Empingham Remembered: Recollections, (1984), from which the above description of Thomas’s accident was taken:
The Church bells played a large part pre 1939. A full peal was rung at 6 a.m. on Christmas Day to herald the birth of Christ, in addition to ringing before morning and evening service throughout the year. On the passing of the old year the tenor bell would be tolled mournfully for 10 minutes or so to midnight and then the full peal would ring in the new year. ....