Revd. Frederick Thomas Gardner

Rector of Goldhanger and Lt. Totham

from 1893 to 1936

The Reverend Gardner was rector of St. Peter's Church Goldhanger and All Saints Church Little Totham from 1893 to 1936. He was the last rector to hold the Perpetual Advowson of the joint Goldhanger and Little Totham Benefice, and his family were prosperous enough to purchase the Rectory and the surrounding Glebe land in the village. . .

He was a great traveller despite apparently suffering from motor neuron disease for much of his life and was one of the group of Goldhanger residents who went to Spitzbergen several times to prospect for minerals from 1904 onwards. He was a man of strong convictions, preaching from his wheelchair in St Peterís and writing in the parish magazine with great passion. He lost one of his sons in the Great war and was largely responsible for the building what the East Anglian Daily Times referred to in 1939 as  the impressive and noble war memorial  at the front of St Peterís Church. This memorial may perhaps be his most lasting legacy.

The Revd. Gardner was Rector during the Great War and his wide-ranging involvement in the village activities during the period of the war is well recorded in the Parish Magazine articles of the time. He chaired meetings in the school to raise funds for both the war effort and to support the local volunteers, he organised local British Red Cross Society collections, he organised concerts to raise funds in both the school room and on the lawns of the Rectory, and he was a Special Constable for the duration of the war.

Here is a summary of the Rectorʼs life with details and photographs further down this page. . .




Born at Woodcote Wanor, Bromsgrove, youngest son of Thomas Gardner


. . .he had two brothers, both GPs: Dr William Gardner & Dr F. G. Gardner



Went to Peterhouse College, Cambridge and was an acclaimed sportsman



Attended Ely Theological College



was curate at St. Augustineʼs, Wisbech



Appointed Rector of Goldhanger & Lt. Totham



Married Ethel Mary Pocock, from Wisbech



He started a Parish Magazine, which included many article written by him



Went to the Earl of Mortonʼs home in Ardgour in Scotland



The Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, is said to have stayed at the Rectory.


Went to Garmisch in Bavaria for health reasons



Returned to Scotland for a ʼprolonged visitʼ



The Rector presented teacher Lily with a copy of the Goldhanger Woods book



He started a ʼCoal Clubʼ to support the poor of both villages



His fist visit to Spitzbergen as a holiday



2nd Expedition to Spitzbergen



Date of map showing areas of Spitsbergen claimed by Rector and his friends



A small cutters used at Spitzbergen was named Cynthia after his daughter


3rd Expedition to Spitzbergen travelling with the Earl of Morton on his yacht



Dr Salter wrote: Dined at Rectory and heard Gardnerʼs story of Spitzbergen



The Rector bought The Limes in Head St from the Revd. Leighʼs estate



4th Expedition to Spitzbergen with Mrs Gardner



The Rector bought his first car



Visited Biarritz, but returned early due to his sonʼs illness



Ernest Mansfield wrote about ʼThe Parsonʼ in his 1st Novel



toured the Nile in Egypt



wrote a long letter describing the many minerals found on Spitzbergen



many newspaper articles refer to the Rectorʼs Spitzbergen exploits



His son Eustace died of an illness at the age of 18



He renamed The Limes as The Parsonage



built the Parish Room on land adjacent to The Parsonage



his brother from Oxford Dr FG Gardner went to Spitzbergen as company doctor



wrote many articles in the parish magazine about the war effort



During the war joined Earl of Mortonʼs yacht mine sweeping off Scotland



His son Cyril was killed in action in the Somme



He led the fund raising activity to built the War Memorial



The Rector made the largest donation of 200



He installed a new east window in Lt. Totham Church dedicated to his son



He travelled to South Africa ʼto escape the worst of the winter weatherʼ



His daughter Angela was married at Goldhanger



His wife Poppy lost an arm in a accident with a generator at the Rectory



His daughter Cynthia would fly in and land her light plane in a field nearby



On special occasions children would queue for buns at the Rectory



He refused to allow overhead electricity cables in the village



The Revd. Gardner died at the Rectory - there was an obituary in The Times



There was ʼAn Appreciationʼ by the Curate in the Parish Magazine



Two large oil painting from the Rectory were given to St Peterís by his family



A new tenor bell was cast in his memory and still hangs in the tower



Act of Remembrance for The Revd. Gardnerís grandsons Richard & Nigel



The Revd Gardner standing in the doorway of the Rectory.

In the donkey cart are Mrs Gardner and two of their children

with the nanny, Mrs Easter.

The boy is probably a gardener/groom and could be John Buckingham.

      The Revd. Gardnerʼs car outside the Rectory with a chauffeur





Extracts from ʼLittle Totham - the story of a small villageʼ

The Revd. Gardner was also rector of Little Totham for 43 years. In 2005 local historian Lorna Key published ʼLittle Totham - the story of a small villageʼ and her book has a full chapter dedicated to Frederick Gardner. He was clearly as equally popular in Little Totham as he was in Goldhanger. The author has kindly give permission for extracts from the chapter to be used here. . .


Frederick married a beautiful young woman, Ethel Mary Pocock (Poppy), who bore him five children - Cyril, Eustace, Angela, Humphrey and William. Cyril was killed on the Somme at the age of 19. Eustace, who was a diabetic, died early in life. Angela swore she would never marry a parson so she married a young soldier nicknamed ʼChubbyʼ who ironically enough eventually did become a parson. Humphrey had two children and was a bell-ringer at Goldhanger Church and William died a bachelor.


In 1947 Poppy took over the patronage of the two churches and she was succeeded in this by her son Humphrey Boucher Gardner in 1965. Humphreyʼs two sons, Richard and Nigel, remember their grandfather as being spoken of as a stern but gentle old man and always in a wheelchair. During mealtimes in the large, often cold, dining room he was always dominant at the table and everybody was silent.


Being wheelchair bound did not preclude him and his wife from making numerous excursions abroad and to the far north of Scotland. From all of these trips he always remembered his parishioners back home and regaled them through the Parish Magazine. At the turn of the 20th century he bought one of the early motor cars which was quite a sight at the time as he drove through the villages.


He started the magazine in 1895 ʼas some form of useful literature, which will be a welcome companion to your fireside when the dayʼs work is over..nothing will be found more interesting and more useful than the accompanying magazine.ʼ In spite of often rigorous calls to duty and reprimands, his letters always start with ^My dear parishioners.ʼ They end in the early days with ʼyours faithfully,ʼ but more latterly ʼYour faithful friend and pastorʼ or ʼYours affectionately.ʼ


He harangues his parishioners through the magazine in October 1898 when one can sense his irritation. ʼWhere are the men on Sunday mornings? I need not ask. They shuffle in at the fag end of an idle day and think this is fitting to the Lord.ʼ In September 1899 he wrote of the first signs of his illness: ʼMy dear people, I have been amongst you for nearly six years and for the first time within that period I am about to take a prolonged holiday, partly under doctorʼs orders after an acute attack of rheumatism, t am to go as the private chaplain to the Earl of Morton for eight weeks at the seat of Congalen Ardgour in N.W.Scotland.ʼ From there he wrote telling his parishioners about the grandeur and the magnificence of the scenery, the people who attended the services and the highland games, all of which must have seemed part of another world to the people of Little Totham.


In August 1900 he left for Garmisch in Bavaria where he visited Oberammergau among many other places, and ended with a cruise down the Rhine. Afterwards he returned to Scotland for another prolonged visit.


Under his supervision a Coal Club was started when coal was bought in the summer at a cheap rate and distributed in the winter In October 1902 there was a clear description of the festivities associated with the Coronation, listing all the games, food and entertainment during the celebrations at Little Totham Hall meadow. However there was a slight sting in the tale: ʼThe committee would be much obliged to the gentleman who put eight pots of jam into his pocket (by mistake of course)as well as eight flower glasses and a steel sharpener, if he will return them to Totham Hall barn, and he may rest assured of their thanks for his kindly attention in rectifying this little mistake.ʼ


In August 1906 he travelled to Spitzbergen on board the ʼNorth of the Polar Seaʼ, having ʼa rough and somewhat dangerous time.ʼ A lantern slide show was promised on his return. In August 1907 he returned to Spitzbergen with Mrs Gardner, but they never reached it due to the large lumps of floating polar ice which rendered it impossible for the steamer to pass.


By October of this year his condition had worsened and he was ordered to see a consultant in London with a possibility of arresting the complaint. He was in hospital until December and returned to Goldhanger after a period of convalescence in Bournemouth. In April 1908 he returned early from Biarritz in the South of France as his eldest boy had developed a dangerous complaint after pneumonia and measles. He was away at school at the time. Again in July 1908 he visited the baths at Oeynhausen, Germany, for a prolonged cure.


In January 1910 he was to be found 1,000 miles along the River Nile south of Cairo surrounded by the Great Desert. There is a narrow strip of cultivated land on either side of the Nile, he reported. His letter then described in detail the pyramids and the tomb of Pharoah, ending: ʼI have just returned from taking tea with the Canon of Jerusalem.ʼ


The Rev Gardner was one of the first people to own a car in the area. This was his first car, a ten horsepower Speedwell made by the New Speedwell Motor Company of London. The vehicle was registered to him on 4th August, 1906. He kept it until 1909. The Speedwell would, have been a rare sight when it arrived in Goldhanger and Little Totham in that summer of 1908, in its colour of dark blue picked out with yellow. Few other cars were in the area at that time. Registration of vehicles started on January 1st, 1904, when 597 existing vehicles were registered in Essex. ʼFʼ was the only index letter allocated at that time, so when the Rev Gardnerʼs vehicle, F993, was registered it was one of the first thousand. After that he bought a 14 horsepower ʼG Richard Brazierʼ from Edmund Bentall of Maldon on August 1st, 1908.

Revd Gardnerʼs car with his chauffeur probably Sammy Crowlin

In later life he owned an Armstrong Siddley saloon,

one of the earliest automatic cars, which also had a chauffeur.

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The Revd. Gardnerʼs wife Ethel Mary (Poppy)

A newspaper report from 1929. . .

††† ††††††

Poppy as a young lady and in later life

dates unknown



The Revd. Gardnerʼs brothers

The Rector had two brothers, both GPs: Dr F. G. Gardner and. Dr William Gardner. Dr. F. G. Gardner participated in the 1912 Spitzbergen expedition as the company doctor and wrote a report which is reproduced in the NEC prospectus. Seven years later in 1920 Doctor Gardner wrote a letter to The Times extolling the virtues of the Spitsbergen climate and its potential for further exploration. Here is an extract from the obituary of Dr William Gardner given the British Medical Journal which was published in 1932. . .

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The Spitzbergen Expeditions

In 2009 professor John T. Reilly of Leeds university published a book entitled: Greetings from Spitsbergen: Tourists at the Eternal Ice, 1827-1914 (Tapir Academic Press). The book describes the early tourist cruise ships that visited Spitzbergen and has many photos of the ships and the passengers. It has a 5-page description of the Revd. Gardnerʼs first trip to Spitsbergen and has several photos including a group picture of the passengers (on page 49) that clearly shows Poppy Gardner in the group but apparently not the Rector, he was probably prospecting in the hills nearby at the time! The relevant parts of the book can be viewed with a Google Book search for: spitsbergen ʼreverend frederick gardnerʼ Here is a short extract from those pages. . .

English cruises were curtailed in 1901 and 1902 due to the high freight charges associated with the Boer War and the chartering of some Orient vessels to the British Government. As a result the RMS Ophir did not to return to Spitsbergen until 1903, although it was the 1904 cruise which was to play an unexpectedly important role in Spitsbergenʼs early history.

On aboard, was the Rector of Goldhangar[sic], the Reverend Frederick Gardner and his elder daughter[sic, it was actually his young looking wife]. Gardner was one of the last ʼgentlemanʼ rectors, in that he came from a middle class family and was sufficiently well off be able to pursue his interest in travel. He was appointed at the age of twenty-nine and subsequently became good friends with the local doctor, J. Salter and a milling engineer and prospector, Ernest Mansfield. Both men were widely travelled. Salter, for example, was an ardent big game hunter and possessed many hunting trophies from his time in Siberia and Northern Russia, while Mansfield had prospected for minerals worldwide. Listening to his friends romanticised tales, Gardner became excited at the idea of finding gold and decided to use the opportunity of his planned cruise to Spitsbergen to pursue this idea. His mineral prospecting in Recherchefiorden encouraged further visits and led to the establishment of the Northern Exploration Company.


The Goldhanger & Little Totham Parish magazines refer to the Revd. Gardner making four summer trips to Spitzbergen in 1904, 1905, 1906 & 1907. The first two trips just referred to ʼto the far northʼ. . .


There is a page on this website that describes in some detail the adventures of the Goldhanger men who prospected for gold with the rector at. . . Spitzbergen - prospecting for gold. The biography: Ernest Mansfield - Gold or Iʼm a Dutchman written by Susan Barr, David Newman and Greg Nesteroff includes many references to the Revd. Gardnerʼs involvement. It is published in English by Akademika Publishing in Norway, and is available worldwide.


photograph in an NEC Prospectus captioned:

ʼRevd. F T Gardner, Early Pioneerʼ


Ernest Mansfield wrote in his book entitled ASTRIA - The Ice Maiden of the Revd. Gardner:

A few years ago I went to Spitzbergen with an English clergyman. A decent sort, too, he was. My word. he had a heart as strong as a lion. Iʼll never forget it. We had only just landed in the country, when I said: ʼI want to fetch that mountainʼ and I pointed to a snow-covered beggar right at the head of the Advent Dale. . . . It was 14 hours solid walking before we got at its foot, and by that time Mr. Parson was a trifle done up. . . .

. . . Our men were waiting, so I sent them up to bring the parson and his load back, which they did three hours afterwards, the gentleman all in a fume and fret. ʼ It was mean to get away like that,ʼ he said. ʼWe ought to have got back together, considering we were nearly home!ʼ Of course I wasnʼt going to argue. I thought I had done him a good turn, and thatʼs the way he rounded on me! We had been on the go 25 hours. According to my calculations we had done 40 miles there and back, but the parson said it was 60 if it was an inch! Well it was all throʼ this trip, that the present position came about. The parson and I discovered something else in our rambles besides coal.


Dr Salter wrote in his Diary of Reminiscences. . .

One day I asked [Ernest] Mansfield to come to dine with me, and he came, and a parson came with him. This parson was then under my care. I was recommending him to have a rest, and at this dinner-table we were talking of the places he might go to. Among others was a visit by one of Lunnʼs ships to the land of the Midnight Sunóup to Norway. As soon as I mentioned the Midnight Sun Mansfield got excited and said, ʼ I wish youʼd send me there, too, because all the gold that is undiscovered lies around the polar regions, and Iʼm sure thereʼs a lot about the Arctic Circle, just as there is at Klondyke. That is where Iʼd go if I had the money.ʼ The divine warmed up at this, and they talked about it. Mansfield said he would fit the parson up with a minerʼs outfit, which meant a bag or sack containing certain tools adaptable to a man to carry on his back certain distances in prospecting for minerals. He would also tell our mutual friend where to go to make the best use of his time. . .

. . .18 July 1906 Dined at the Goldhanger Rectory and heard Rev. Gardnerʼs story about Spitzbergen, from which he had just returned. His account is wonderful and there seems to be great results looming over all participants, myself included.


There was a long letter in the NEC Prospectus of 1911 apparently written by the Rector - the details of each mineral have been omitted from the shortend version below for brevity. It can be read in full on pages 58-60 in the document at... Gardner letter - in Mansfield articles. ʼNʼ is a pseudonym for Spitsbergen...

Statement by Rev. F.T. GARDNER,

Rector of Goldhanger, Essex.

The Rectory, Goldhanger, Essex,

March 1st, 1911.

Dear Sir.

At your request I very gladly give you a brief Report of my first-hand knowledge of ʼNʼ gathered from expeditions in 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907; I say ʼbriefʼ report because, if the report were as long as the subject of it is important and interesting, it would run into several hundred pages.

I will preface my statement by saying that I have known Mr. Mansfield continually since 1903, when he had a house in the village. His remarkable personality, his wide reputation in British Columbia, New Zealand, Australasia, etc., as a keen and successful prospector and explorer were known to me.

In 1904 I went out to ʼNʼ ostensibly for sport, but, finding the land during my travels there indicated so much mineral wealth in certain parts previously untrodden and unmapped, I became deeply interested in the infinite possibilities of that country.

Before I went out Mansfield had given me certain professional knowledge: what to look for, and where to look for it, and had provided me with a pick, gold-washing pan, etc. I picked up several pieces of quartz, one of which proved to be exceptionally good. The Assayer to the Bank of England said it was ʼthe best piece of water-worn quartz weʼve seen for a long time,ʼ and wondered where it had come from. I believe it assayed 6 dwts.

On my return to England I acquainted Mansfield with my many rich and interesting discoveries. He planned to accompany me in the following year. I took out the first lot of men in 1905, and was in Norway when Mansfield chose the first big gang, though, of course, I am not so well known there as Mansfield.

We discovered :-

I. GOLD. . .

II. COAL. . .



V. GYPSUM. . .



The waterway is very deep and the facilities for working and loading, etc., seem to me to be extraordinary. I donʼt think Mansfield or anyone else has painted a very highly-coloured picture, because there is enough coal there to supply Europe.

With regard to handling work of this kind there is none better, I think, than Mansfield. I know him probably better than anyone, having lived with him under exceptional conditions and circumstances for so long in ʼNʼ and you may place every confidence in him. He is straight beyond question.

ʼNʼ must have a very great future, and it is of first moment to have such an exceptionally strong, resourceful and dependable man as Mansfield as organiser ever this vast undertaking, one who not only knows the land and its treasures, but who knows how to make the best out of both. His intrepidity and experience ensure success, to say nothing of the probability of additional discoveries as the work proceeds.

ʼ Nʼ will open up rapidly; it is already becoming a pet region for tourists. I suggest hotels for a summer health resort - a sort of Davos. The air is unmatched for purity and restorative properties.

F. T. Gardner

From The Register, Adelaide, of September 1911..



In an old-fashioned garden, filled with the scent of many flowers, behind a quaint old house, with pointed gables and high red chimneys in a remote village of Essex, I sat this afternoon (wrote a correspondent of The London Daily Chronicle from Tolleshunt DʼArcy last month), listening to a tale as romantic as Stevensonʼs ʼʼTreasure Island.ʼ It was a tale of a newly discovered gold field in the far desolation of the arctic circle, and of a great coalfield from which Europe may draw its fuel long after its own coal has been exhausted. It was a tale of men who are living a lonely, wild life in the frozen north, where no other human being sets foot, and where only the polar bears roam in the utter solitude. It was a tale of dead menʼs bones.

Across the Essex marshes and the cornfields ready for the harvest, the setting sun was flinging long shadows from the trees, and the air was filled with a glamorous light and with the scent of moist earth after rain showers. Sitting there in the peaceful garden, it seemed to me the strangest thing to hear the story of romance and adventure from one of the chief characters in its plot. There are three principal characters in this new ʼTreasure Islandʼ story of real life. One is the Rev. Mr. Gardner, rector of Goldhanger, a sleepy little village of Essex, whose greatest excitements have been a wedding, a birth, and a death. The second is Dr. Salter, of Tolleshunt DʼArcy, three miles from the rectory of Goldhanger. The third is Mr. Ernest Mansfield, a musician, a man of letters, a great traveller, and a mining engineer, who is the neighbour and friend of the rector and the doctor. Surely Stevenson or Quiller-Couch would have chosen just such men as these to be the characters in a story of gold and dead menʼs bones in a far-off island?

-The Clergymanʼs Discovery-

It was the clergyman who was the cause of the discovery which led these three friends in Essex to share an amazing secret. It seems strange enough that the rector of a rural parish should travel into the arctic regions for a summer holiday, but stranger things than that were to follow. The Rev. Mr. Gardner, acting upon the expert, advice of his engineering friend, brought back from his voyage pieces pf quarts and rock, and specimens of sand, and mud, and shingle from the arctic coast. To him they were meaningless. He smiled as he thought of his strange baggage. But one night there was a thrilling sense of mystery and excitement when the three friends gathered round these little heaps of rubble in the sitting room at the rectory.

Mr. Mansfield pored over these pebbles and bits of rock, held them up to the light, and examined them closely. ʼWell?ʼ said his friends, ʼGoldʼ, he said, ʼor Iʼm a Dutchman.ʼ Gold! It seemed incredible. Here in the little Essex parlour was a secret of amazing possibilities and importance. The specimens were sent to London to be tested. The report that came confirmed Mr. Mansfieldʼs opinion. The sand brought back by the clergyman was what is known as ʼpay gravelʼ, the washing down of a gold deposit. The three friends formed a private syndicate, and Mr. Mansfield went out to Spitzbergen to prospect more closely and take out a claim. He found that a party of Americans were in advance of him, but they entered into friendly relations, and the Americans went further up the desolate coast, where they have pegged out their own claim and have now established a small township engaged in coal digging with good results. The details of what Mr. Mansfield found must still be kept a secret, says Dr. Salter, although it can no longer be hidden that there are the most astonishing indications of gold and an in exhaustible coal supply in this unexplored territory of the frozen north. One great difficulty now faced the village pioneers. From whom were they to get the full right to take possession of minerals in this region? No flag of any nation flies over its barren rock. It is a ʼNo Manʼs Land.ʼ


The 1913 prospectus reveals that the Rev. Gardnerʼs brother, Dr F. G. Gardner, also participated on an NEC expedition in 1912 as the company doctor and wrote a report which is reproduced in the prospectus. Seven years later in 1920 Doctor Gardner wrote a letter to The Times (18.12.1920) extolling the virtues of the Spitsbergen climate and its potential for further exploration.



The death of his son Eustace

A newspaper cutting from December 1912. . .

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Parish Magazine articles

What appears to be a complete set of Parish Magazines in bound form covering all of the period when the Revd. Gardner was Rector are held in the Local Studies section of Colchester Library (ref: E.GOL.1). It is possible that this book belonged to the Rector and was placed there by his family after his death. There are many articles within it clearly written by him, and which reflect his strong personal views. Here are some examples. . .

The Revd. Gardner wrote in the parish magazine in 1895. . .

Where are the men on Sunday mornings? I need not ask. They shuffle in at the fag end of an idle day and think this is fitting to the Lord.

Morbus Sabbaticus, or Sunday sickness, is a disease peculiar to non-Churchgoers. The disease comes on suddenly every Sunday; no symptoms are felt on Saturday night, the patient sleeps well, eats a hearty breakfast, but about church-time the attack comes on, and continues till the services are over for the morning, then the patient feels easy and eats a hearty dinner.

In the afternoon he feels much better and is able to take a walk on the wall and talk politics, but about church-time he gets another attack and stays home. He retires early, sleeps well and wakes up on Monday morning refreshed and able to go to work, and does not have further symptoms of the disease until the next Sunday.


Parish magazine of September 1896:

Great trouble is taken at each choir practice to fix in the minds of the choristers the correct time for each hymn and canticle; and if the congregation will take the lead from the organ and choir, instead of singing faster or slower the music results will be greatly improved; the Church being small, any conflict of opinion on this point is often painful.

The Rector with Lt Totham choir

Parish magazine of September 1915:

We are passing through very difficult and searching times - we feel the strain and stress of it all, her in our little corner, perhaps as much as anyone, with 60 to 70 troops billeted on us for their machine gun training - Goldhanger usually so peaceful and quiet, with its people pursuing their path of Duty to God and to their Neighbour. All is now changed for a season. We are suddenly called upon to entertain a body of men who are shortly going forth to face possibly death and hardships. Let us be faithful in the discharge of our high duty towards them, we must be true to our Manhood and Womanhood in this matter. We must be careful to set before them a high standard of example in all matters of conduct.

Those who are lodging soldiers have no right to let the increase of labour oust God from His place. His claims upon us are the same as before. And then there are such places where no good girl should be seen. Good Mothers will see that their daughters avoid late hours at night, and above all be more than ever careful over the perilous intimacy that arises between those who are ʼKeeping Companyʼ. And lastly - doubtful or loose conversation - look upon it as so much ʼpoisoned gasʼ coming from the ranks of the enemies of God.


Parish magazine of March 1916:

Our Airmen

It falls to the lot of some of us just now to receive into our homes the Kingʼs soldiers and for the moment the Kingʼs airmen. It comes as an opportunity of doing ʼour bitʼ for the men on whom our Countryʼs welfare depends. It carries with it a great responsibility. These men have left their own homes and friends. It becomes our duty to make for each man ʼa home away from homeʼ. We should think what kind of a home we should like our own boy to have if he is in billets, and we must try to give the men with us just what we would wish him to have, viz., the simple homely things - the words of welcome - a cup of tea perhaps at odd times -the drying of clothes on wet days - the friendliness of letting them feel that our fireside is theirs too.

But there is a greater work to be done. Many a soldier thanks God for the woman, who, by a kindly outspoken word, helps him to keep straight and clean in his new life. It is our best men who go to the front. There are two things that give a man a chance of being one of the best - the fear of God and respect for woman - and you can help in this by being the very best kind of woman yourself.

You may be giving these men the last bit of home life they will ever know on earth. In a home where grace is said before and after meals - no bad words, or queer talk allowed because you are not used to it, where the men are encouraged to wait on themselves on Sunday morning because your church and communion calls you. You will be doing your part to help these men, as nothing like the influence of a good woman can, to become purer and better fitted to carry out what their country expects of them. How glad you will be if, when they go out, they can look back on your home (perhaps their last home) with affection and respect.

Parish magazine of July 1919:

A Warning

It has become increasingly the fashion for some years past for a host of ungodly people to come and squat themselves in our midst for the greater part of the summer. They get themselves billeted in the houses of our people, who are expected to wait on them both week day and Sunday. Now for the most part these people have no use for the House of God, nor yet for the sacraments, and moreover they are of small benefit to anyone here.ʼ He then goes on to castigate his parishioners for using all this waiting on the ungodly on Sundays as an excuse for not coming to church. One wonders who these ʼungodlyʼ people were, perhaps casual workers for the harvest and fruit picking. One also wonders why the villagers felt they had to wait on the lodgers all day.

Parish magazine of 1926:

Dear People, I am leaving for South Africa on December 10th, sailing that day from Southampton, and Mrs, Gardner will accompany me, hoping thereby to escape the worst of the winter weather and be where the sun shines, which to me means so much. This involves being away for Christmas and is my chief disappointment. Anyway I am taking every care that all will go on as usual, and below you will see the arrangements that have been made for that happy Festival. I have asked the Rev. O. W. Clements, Deputation Secretary to the London Association for the Blind, to help me while I am away. I have arranged for a Childrenʼs Christmas Tree and I should like to see a Parochial Tea in each Parish the same evening, run in connection with it. Take particular notice of the Christmas services and try to make faithful use of them - an Advent well spent is your best preparation. taking to heart its solemn reminder. May God bless you ail with the joys of a Happy Christmas.

I shall be 6,000 miles away when you make your Christmas Communion, when I know you will bear me in mind before the Altar, as I shall you in mine. I expect to travel another 5,000 miles over land when I reach South Africa, so there will be something to tell you when I get back. I hope to reach the old Country again on February 7th, home in good time for Lent.

Yours ever affectionately,

                F.T. Gardner.



The Goldhanger War Memorial

The Rector lost his son Cyril in the Great war and he was largely responsible for the building the war memorial at the front of St Peterís Church, which the East Anglian Daily Times referred to in 1939 as ʼthe impressive and noble war memorialʼ. The memorial is probably the Rectorʼs most lasting public legacy.


From the Parish magazine in September 1918. . .

War Memorial

The time has arrived when we should be thinking about this all important matter. There is no doubt we shall all want to do our best. All will feel that no sacrifice we can make will be a sufficient compensation to commemorate the noble lives laid down from this parish in the Greatest War the world has known and for the most righteous cause. Our Memorial is to commemorate the greatest event in history. It will be our proud privilege here to bear witness through our memorial to generations yet unborn, to the pride as well as the gratitude our brave sons have called forth by their wonderful sacrifices and their glorious deeds which have saved the world. A preliminary Public Meeting will shortly be held at which it is hoped everyone will be present.


In January 1919 seventy residents attended the first War Memorial meeting. A target of ₤400 (=₤13,000 today) was set by the Rector and he gave the first & largest donation of ₤100. There were about 200 subscribers in total. They were all named in the PM with the amounts they gave. The smallest amount was one shilling (=₤1.50 today). The second largest amount was ₤20 from a Mrs Armstrong (probably the mother of pilot Sidney Armstrong). ʼMrs Gardnerʼ (presumably the Rectors wife or mother) paid the final ₤20 to reach the ₤400 target.

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The East Window in Lt. Totham Church dedicated to the Rectorʼs son Cyril


The window is inscribed:

To the Glory of God & sacred to the beloved memory of Cyril Gower Gardner Lieut. Grenadier Guards

born July 30th 1897, who fell in the Great War at the battle of the Somme on Sep 15th 1916

and was buried on the battlefield at Morval France.

Elder surviving son of the Revd Fredk Gardner Rector of this parish.

ʼGreater love hath no man than thisʼ




The Parsonage and Parish Room at Goldhanger

In 1912 the Rector had the Parish Room built on land adjacent to the Parsonage, which he owned. Initially it had just one room, a second room was added later.

The Parsonage and Parish Rooms in Head St owned by the Rector

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Influential friends

Two friends of the Rector who probably had a major influence on his Spitzbergen gold prospecting involvement have been identified. They are the Earl of Morton and the Revd. Honourable Byron, who was Rector of Langford in the early 1900s who a relative of the famous poet Lord Byron. From a parish magazine article we know that in 1898 Frederick went to the Earl of Mortonʼs home in Ardgour in Scotland for a holiday or to convalesce, and we know that his 3rd Expedition to Spitzbergen in 1906 was with the Earl of Morton on his yacht. There are photographs of the Rector with the earl on the yacht in...


The Revd. Hon. F.C. Byronʼs name appears on a map of Spitsbergen signed by Ernest Mansfield and dated 1905, alongside ʼthe ʼGardner areaʼ, the J H Salter area, the Hon. Douglasʼs area and the Earl of Mortonʼs area. . .


Presentation of a book to ʼTeacher Lilyʼ

As Rector he always had a major involvement with the village Church of England School, which was built by his predecessor the Revd C B Leigh. In 1900 he presented popular ʼTeacher Lilyʼ (Miss Clark) with a copy of the childrenʼs smuggling story book entitled: ʼGoldhanger Woodsʼ the book with the inscription remains with a member of Teacher Lilyʼs family. . .


cover the actual book and inscription on the inside cover,

together with a school photo of the Rector with his dog, teacher Lily on the left and the headmistress on the right

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The Rectorʼs daughter Angela

A newspaper report from 1927. . .




More memories of the Rector and his family

In the 1930s the Revd. Gardner daughter Cynthia had a pilots licence and used a grass airstrip alongside The Avenue/DʼArcy Rd (now part of Maldon Rd).

On special occasions in the early 1930s, when the Revd Gardner was incumbent at the Rectory (now Goldhanger House), he would give out buns at the front door of the Rectory. Schoolchildren would queue for their bun then run around the house, through the bushed and re-join the queue for a second bun.

In the 1930s Revd. Gardner refused to allow overhead electricity cables to be used around the village or cross his land, so underground cables had to be installed at much greater expense, and today the village still benefits from this. However, an overhead cable does cross the front of the Churchyard, presumably to avoid disturbing the graves.

In later life, when the Revd. Gardner was more severely affected by motor neuron disease, he spent much of his time in a wheelchair. People remember him being pushed in a wheelchair down Church St. from the Rectory to the Church by his man-servant (probably John Buckingham), and the locals would stand and doff there caps as he passed. He frequently conducted services and gave sermons while seated in the wheelchair.

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The Revd. Gardnerʼs obituary in The Times of 1936. . .



From the Parish magazine in 1936:

The Rev. F. T. Gardner - An Appreciation

When I left Goldhanger for a short holiday, leaving the Rector in better health than he enjoyed when I first came, I little thought that I should be recalled so suddenly because of his illness, and that I should not see him alive again. I had known hint for a very short time, namely, six months, but in that time I had become very attached to him, and learned to appreciate his many sterling qualities. Perhaps nearly everybody in our two Parishes know him better than I did, and after his death it was very touching to hear the many tributes that were paid to him by people whose houses I visited. Most of these related to the late Rectorʼs great kindness to those in trouble, distress or sickness. It is quite certain that his good and charitable works were done for the most part in secrecy - in fact, many people whom he had helped have told me that they were asked by him not to say anything about his assistance. Even the members of his own family did not know one half of his generosity.

He was a man of strong character - he knew exactly what he wanted, and he had strong and definite convictions about almost everything. In this present age, which is so indefinite about most things, and which lacks real leaders, these were noteworthy qualities - although they were not perhaps recognised by all as such. It is quite certain that no man who does his duty will please everyone, or will avoid hurting the feelings od some. The greatest saint or archangel could not please everyone and do the work of God at the same time. For many years the late Rector has suffered, and he had suffered the sufferings of his family. All this he bore without complaint , nd indeed, in this he was a true Priest and disciple of Christ, taking up his cross.

For forty-three years he was Rector of the Parishes of Goldhanger and Little Totham. Thin is a good piece of oneʼs life. Probably the majority of people in the two Parishes have never know any other Rector in these places. For them it will be hard to realise that he is no longer with them in the flesh. There is no need to record in full the details of the funeral because this has been so ably done by the East Anglian Press.

I to thank all those who tank part in the all night watch, and showed their appreciation of the late Rector in this way, and also those who attended the Requiem on the day of burial. The Bishops of Chelmsford and Barking officiated at the burial at Goldhanger, assisted by the Rev. J. Timmins, Canon I. L. Seymour, and the Rev. N. Hudson. In the Church, the Bishop of Chelmsford, in a very concise address, paid a moving tribute to the outstanding qualities of the late Rector.

It cannot be stressed too clearly that the Rev. F. T. Gardner was not in Church matters a ʼparty man.ʼ He believed with all his heart that the Church of England was the true Catholic Church of Christ in England, as indeed we all profess when we recite the Creed. Such unfortunate terms as ʼ high Churchmanʼ or ʼAnglo-Catholicʼ were misnomers when applied to him. He claimed to be a loyal Churchman, and he had a deep attachment to the Prayer Book and its services, and to the teaching of the Church Catechism. He strove to be loyal to his Bishops and to the teaching of the Church of England, as expounded in its official formularies.

            N. HUDSON.

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The paintings in St Peterís Church

These two large oil painting hang in St Peterís are dedicated to memory the Revd Gardner. They were known to hang in the Rectory up until the Rectorʼs death and were subsequently donated by his family to the church.

There is more about these... Paintings in the church

These are digitally enhanced low resolution versions.. . .





The Tenor bell in St Peterís Church

In 1951 when the belltower was restored, a new 8cwt tenor bell was cast in memory of the Rector and his wife Ethel Mary who had been Patron of the Church. The bell is still in regular use. . .



Act of Remembrance and Thanksgiving

An act of Remembrance and Thanksgiving was held on Sunday the 9th September 2018 for the lives of Revd. Gardnerís grandsons Richard and Nigel Gardner, both of whom sadly passed away earlier in the year...

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Revd. Gardner holding his Grandson††††††††††††††††††† Richard Gardner†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Nigel Gardner

A short service was held in St. Peterís churchyard beside the grave of the Rector and his immediate family. Members of the current family from around the world attended the ceremony.



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