Belfry News May 2018
A Wrangle at Whaplode
In a recently purchased book, "Aspects of Spalding Villages" my attention was drawn to an extract from a local newspaper concerning a dispute between the Rev. John Collin, Vicar of Whaplode and the ringers of Whaplode Parish Church. The latter wanted to ring "a muffled peal" in memory of a deceased parishioner but the vicar objected. The ringers persisted and as a result were summoned by the vicar for "riotous, violent and indecent behaviour in the church". The vicar was then summoned for "assaulting one of the ringers". Well, on reading this my imagination took flight with a mental picture of Rev. Collin perhaps landing a haymaker on that recalcitrant ringer. I know that the practice of fisticuffs is not normally associated with men of the cloth, but like us all, they do have human feelings which at times can become a little strained. So what really happened on that long gone day of more than one hundred years ago?
A visit to Spalding Library and a trawl through the microfiche revealed that these events occurred on Sunday, January 12th 1896, in the church and between 12.00 and 1.00pm, the defendants being George Henry Scott, a gardeners son, John Thomas Downs, a publicans son and Frederick Barker, a cottagers son. The altercation continued in the churchyard later in the day between Rev. Collin, Downs and Barker and it was here that Rev. Collin was said to have assaulted Downs. All was reported in the Spalding Guardian of Saturday February 8th, 1896 when on the previous Tuesday the case was heard at the Sessions House, Spalding presided over by Rev. J.R. Jackson, M.A. and thirteen other magistrates plus a crowded courtroom-some publicity! Happily all was resolved with apologies all round, cases withdrawn,and defendants paying their own costs. But who was "the deceased parishioner" and why did Rev. Collin object? I imagine we shall never know.