James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Life in Empingham

Ernest Mills in his Empingham Remembered: Recollections, (1984) continues:

Another aspect of village life which attracted attention was the death and burial of any villager, rich or poor. The verger and sexton of the church for as long as I can remember was Mr. Harry Sneath, … He worked as a gardener at the Rectory …. So he was always available to ring the so-called Death Bell. This I think was the sixth and largest bell in the Church and he would be summoned as soon as the death was confirmed (except between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m.) to dong the bell three times for a male and twice for a female and then once for every year of the deceased’s life. Pretty hard on him when an octogenarian passed on. ....

The burial party would be met at the North gate by the Vicar, who would carefully examine some paper presented to him by the undertaker who always preceded the coffin.

Thomas's other duties included visiting the local school to give religious instruction twice a week in 15 - 20 minute sessions. Every three years, in February, the children took a day off school and helped distribute bread to the needy, this paid for by a bequest to the church made in 1835. There was also an annual event called 'Feast Sunday' – similar to a large village fete - when a collection was made towards the annual choir outing to Skegness; the funds were augmented by a whist drive and a dance in the Audit Hall in the winter. For the outing the choristers would have to cycle to Stamford in the early morning and back again in the evening. Though the choir was already established by the time Thomas arrived, it may have been he who organized surplices for its members; the evidence - 25 surplices cost 15s to launder in October 1893.