MossValley: Chap 7, Fifty Years of Sheffield Church Life 1866-1916, by Rev William Odom
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Continuing the transcript of

Fifty Years of Sheffield Church Life

The Rev. W. Odom

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Hon. Canon of Sheffield

or see full chapter list with descriptions, and illustrations

Chapter VII


All round the room my silent servants wait. –
My friends in every season, bright and dim.

After the joys of religion and the blessings of friendship, the greatest pleasures of my life have been found in books and travel. Few things, if any, can equal these in giving enlarged views of men and the world.

Concerning books, which I have loved from earliest years, it may truly be said with an old Bishop of Durham*, who lived before the age of printing, that "these are the masters who instruct us without rods and ferules, without hard words and anger, without clothes or money. If you approach them, they are not asleep; if you interrogate them, they conceal nothing; if you mistake them, they never grumble; if you are ignorant, they cannot laugh at you. The library, therefore, of wisdom is more precious than all riches; and nothing that can be wished for is worthy to be compared with it." Another learned Bishop who lived in later times, Dr. Isaac Barrow, says, "He that loveth a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counsellor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter."

[ * FootnoteRichard de Bury, 1281-1345. ]

Books have always been to me a source of delight. As a child I read again and again, the Swiss Family Robinson, Sandford and Merton, and Robinson Crusoe. Uncle Tom's Cabin made a deep impression, but the book which interested me most was the Pilgrim's Progress. Ever since, I have retained a vivid memory of the Pilgrim's journey to the City of God, his dangers and conflicts, his helpers and hinderers; his passing from the doomed city, by the Slough of Despond, through the Wicket Gate, up the Hill Difficulty, past the lions, at the Palace Beautiful, through Vanity Fair, in Doubting Castle, on the Delectable Mountains! How true to life! But all was well at the last: the Christian Pilgrim passed through the gates, into the City.

Biography has been for me a favourite subject. Before reaching ten I had picked out and read many of the biographies from the volumes of Charles Knight's Penny Cyclopaedia. About the same time I read, with keen delight, the weekly numbers of Cassell's Illustrated History of England. Later a book which greatly influenced me was Smiles' Self-Help, a work which to-day some superior persons seek to disparage. My friend Mr. Arthur Thomas advised me to read Dean Goulburn's Personal Religion, a book not so much appreciated now as it deserves to be. My favourite magazine was Good Words, edited by Norman Macleod, amongst the contributors to which were many of the foremost writers of the time. On my shelves there are thirty-five volumes, a treasury of some of the best things written during the latter part of the Victorian age on religion, science, biography, travel, and social matters, not to speak of fiction and poetry. Beyond the works of Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens I have read few novels, except those which appeared in Good Words. What a pity such an excellent magazine should have ceased to be!

My collection of books, fairly large and varied, not only includes those on Scripture and theology, history (especially Church history) and biography, but also many topographical and illustrated works of much interest.

In my boyhood there was in Norfolk Row a tobacconist's shop, at which one day I bought a cigar. I began to smoke it, and then it nearly finished me. It was my first and last cigar, and, as I tell my friends, it proved the best investment I ever made. Had my money gone in smoke I should not have had the company of the books which it is now my pleasure to possess.

Limitations of space do not allow me to name the writers from whom I have derived special help, but I cannot forbear to name Bishops Lightfoot, Westcott , and Handley Moule. Moreover, what abounding knowledge of the Church, its work and its workers, one gathers from reading the lives of Archbishops Tait and Benson, Bishops S. Wilberforce, Hannington, and Patteson; Dean Hook, Charles Kingsley, Thomas Arnold, and a host of others. Should a minister need a tonic he cannot do better than read John Wesley's Journal, which has often refreshed me at the close of a hard day's work. But great as the temptation is I must not dwell longer on these matters.

For more than thirty years I have been the Sheffield correspondent of the Record, my contributions to which would fill three good-sized volumes. My first essays in this direction were sent to an attractive penny weekly called Church Bells – some extremists called it the "Tinkling Cymbal". Each week it had a portrait of a Church dignitary or else a view of some cathedral or noted church. It was started by Canon Erskine Clark, well known as the editor of Chatterbox and other popular magazines for children. It was very neatly printed and for some time was edited by Mr. Eugene Stock, who tells us that it was intended to appeal "to moderate Churchpeople who cared neither for the Church Times nor the Rock". It numbered among its writers W. D. Maclagan, afterwards Archbishop of York, W. Walsham How, afterwards Bishop of Wakefield, S. T. Stone, author of "The Church's One Foundation", Dr. A. Weir, and Evans Daniel, principal of the Battersea Training College, who contributed to it a long series of papers which afterwards formed the main body of his well-known work on the Prayer Book. It is interesting to note that the familiar hymn by Archbishop Maclagan, "The Saints of God! their conflict past", first appeared in Church Bells. This excellent paper, of which I have a few volumes, expired some years ago.

For many years I have been a reader of the Record, the Guardian, and the Church Times, extracting what honey I could from each. So far as the two last-named papers are concerned, the city of Sheffield with its forty-seven parishes might have no existence, inasmuch as the work of the Church there is rarely noticed. From the first weekly number to the present time – thirty years – I have been a subscriber to the British Weekly, edited by Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, in my opinion the ablest of the Nonconformist papers. The "Correspondence of Claudius Clear", Rambling Remarks by "A Man of Kent", the letters of Professor Smith, and the article on the first page are as a rule excellent. For some months it gave extracts weekly from my Prayer and Praise volumes. It is well that the clergy should know something of the principles, work, and aims of Nonconformity, and for this they can have nothing better than the British Weekly. At times it has rubbed me the wrong way, but there have been ample compensations.

My own literary attempts, a list of which is given at the close of this chapter, owe very much to my revered and much-valued friend, the late Rev. Charles Bullock, B.D., so widely known as the originator and editor of Home Words and other periodicals. Several of my papers appeared in Home Words and his other publications, and we were regular correspondents for many years, during which he gave me much wise and kind counsel. Mr. Bullock's long life of continuous authorship and editorial work bore abundant fruit. The Church of England has had few more diligent servants, and yet the only honour he received was from Archbishop Tait, who conferred on him the Lambeth degree of B.D., "in special recognition of his literary labours for the Church". His writings, especially his letters, show his incisive style, and no small amount of rich humour. He was deeply attached to the evangelical and protestant principles of the Church which he served so long and so faithfully. His motto was, "The printing-press is the Church's lever – what is read in the home is second only in importance to what is heard in the pulpit". Many of Miss Ridley Havergal's poems first appeared in his publications. I have happy memories of two pleasant visits to "Coomrith", his beautiful home at Eastbourne, the talks and walks we had together, and the great kindness which Mrs. Bullock and he manifested to my dear wife and myself. Mr. Bullock introduced me to his friend, Philip B. Power, so well known as a writer of tracts, which have a delightfully quaint and attractive touch of the humorous. It was pleasant to meet one whose popular little book, The Oiled Feather, I had read when a boy. To Mr. Bullock the Church owes an unspeakable debt of gratitude for the constant and devoted labours of a lifetime in the cause of sound and pure literature. It is interesting to note that early in his ministry he was curate of Rotherham. He succeeded William Henry Havergal, father of Francis Ridley Havergal, as rector of St. Nicholas, Worcester, which he resigned in 1874 in order to devote himself entirely to literary work. He passed to his reward in September, 1911, at the age of 82 years. In the words of one his friends:

His only rest was work, the larger share
Of labours that could have no earthly close.
Bending and fragile as a bruised reed,
And yet firm-rooted in the great rock's sure hold,
Our blessed Church and its eternal Creed
Within Christ's fold.

A clerical friend said to me one day, "How do you find time with your large parish to write all those books and tracts?" When I promised to let him into the secret, he exclaimed, "Don't, don't!" The fact is that, after the manner of John Wesley, it has been done by using up odd minutes. I venture to hope that the work of Church and parish has not suffered in the least, but rather gained. My pen has been my recreation and my hobby. At the time the Bishop of Sheffield was good enough to invite me to be editor of the Diocesan Calendar I referred to the work of my large parish, when he said, "If anything special has to be done we always go to a busy man".

Referring to my list of publications I would say that I deemed it a great honour to be entrusted with the preparation of the Life of Archdeacon Blakeney. My book on Mary Stuart: Queen of Scots, grew out of a lecture, with constantly accumulating notes. Owing to her long captivity in Sheffield and the proximity of her abode to the parish of Heeley, I had made it a sort of hobby to visit as far as possible all the places connected with her pathetic and tragic history, from Linlithgow, near Edinburgh, where she was born, to Fotheringay, where she was beheaded.

My little book on Scripture Typology, Gospel Types and Shadows, was first printed in St. Simon's Parish Magazine as a series of Sunday school lessons. Revised and enlarged, it was warmly commended by Bishop Wordsworth of Lincoln and Mr. Spurgeon, with the result that a fourth thousand was called for. It has been translated into Telugu, Bengali, and Chinese.

The third enlarged edition of my Church of England: its Principles, Ministry, and Sacraments, which Archbishop Thomson kindly allowed me to dedicate to him, has for several years been out of print. Of this Dr. Perowne, Bishop of Worcester, was good enough to say, "It is just what was wanted – a concise and popular manual dealing with all the main points at issue; fair, comprehensive, and true". It is often being asked for, and I have been invited to bring it up to date and republish it, but other important work has hitherto prevented this being done. It may be that after the war this may be practicable.

It is fitting that I should acknowledge my obligations to those who have reviewed my books and pamphlets in the Press. They have invariably been most generous. Nothing, indeed, is more welcome to a writer than honest criticism in which errors and omissions are pointed out.

My little volumes of Prayer and Praise for morning and eventide have been to me a source of much quiet joy in the many kind letters of appreciation received from those who have found them helpful.

Letters to the Sheffield Telegraph written by me during the past fifty years would fill a good-sized volume. They have been mostly controversial, on topics of current interest, as Church history, Church and State, Romanizing in the Church of England, Sunday observance, Temperance, and other subjects. Nothing has been written, I hope, to transgress the bounds of Christian charity, and throughout my ministry I have been careful to sign each letter with my proper name.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

My opportunities of travel have been limited by the constant claims of large city parishes; nevertheless I have sought to make the best possible use of such opportunities. Need it be said that the pleasures and advantages of travel last through life. "It may well be doubted," writes Lord Avebury, "which is more delightful – to start for a holiday fully earned, or to return home from one which has been thoroughly enjoyed; to find oneself, with renewed vigour, with a fresh store of memories and ideas, back once more by one's own fireside, with one's family, friends, and books."

During my annual holiday of three or four weeks, and during preaching or speaking engagements from home I have sought to visit historic places. Some of these visits have been made whilst taking holiday duty, as at Canterbury, York, and Bath. Several times I have taken duty in Wales; at other times I have travelled to Scotland, Hexham, and other places in the North; at others I have gone to the South, as the Isle of Wight, Winchester, Salisbury, Southampton, Stonehenge, and the New Forest. I have seen nearly all the English cathedrals, and have been fond of going to churches associated with well-known names in Church history, as Epworth, connected with John Wesley; Elstow, with John Bunyan; Olney, with Cowper; and so on.

Such visits have been followed, not only with lantern lectures to my people, but also with holiday papers, several of which appeared in the Sheffield Telegraph, as "On the South Coast" (Hastings, Eastbourne, &c.); "In North Wales" (Northop, Hawarden, the Gladstone Library, &c.); "Days in Edinburgh"; "A visit to Tennyson Land"; "The Haven under the Hill" (Aberdovey); "Cromer and Poppy Land"; "Derbyshire Dales and Vales"; "Days in Borderland" (Hexham, Berwick-on-Tweed, and Kelso); "Days in Lakeland"; and so on.

My crowning bit of travel, however, was in 1907, when a month was spent in Italy. Before starting I carefully studied the map, read up the places we proposed to visit, secured apartments, and planned a programme. Entirely unfettered by excursion agencies, I was the personal conductor of our small party of three, namely, my dear wife, our niece, and myself. Favoured with glorious weather we visited Rome, Venice, and Florence. We saw St. Peter's, the vast Coliseum with its tragic memories, the ancient Egyptian obelisks, the massive Pantheon, the ruins of the Forum, the triumphal arches of Titus and Constantine, the treasures of the Vatican, and the turbid Tiber, in Rome; the Church of St. Mark, the Palace of the Doges, the Grand Canal, and the ancient churches of Venice; the Duomo (Cathedral), Giotti's magnificent Campanile, Michael Angelo's colossal statue of David, the grand picture galleries of the Uffizi and Pitti, the churches and palaces, and the clear, swift-flowing waters of the Arno, at Florence, the "City of Flowers". A short stay in Milan enabled us to visit the magnificent cathedral, the largest Gothic church in the world, with its wealth of statuary; we also went to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie to see Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, "The Last Supper", which occupies wall space in the refectory 28 feet in length, the figures being larger than life. All these remain clearly pictured on the tablet of memory. What we saw and did during these memorable days was related in seven papers, written abroad, which appeared in the Sheffield Telegraph. I will only add that memories of those enjoyable days, with others spent in Switzerland, recur again and again with ever-refreshing fragrance.


1. * Memories of the Life and Work of John Edward Blakeney, D.D., Vicar and Archdeacon of Sheffield. With Introductory Note by Bishop Boyd-Carpenter. Portraits and Illustrations. 306 pages. Second Edition. 7/6. Home Words Office.

2. * Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots: Her Friends and her Foes . A Review of her Life and Times, including fourteen years Captivity in Sheffield. Portraits and Illustrations. 232 pages. 7/6. George Bell and Sons; J. W. Northend.

3. Gospel Types and Shadows of the Old Testament. Being Fifty-two Short Studies on the Typical Persons, Places, and Things of the Old Testament. Fourth Thousand. 1/-. Jas. Nisbet and Co.

4. * The Church of England: Its Principles, Ministry, and Sacraments . 230 pages. Third Thousand. 2/6. Enlarged. Jas. Nisbet & Co.

5. Morning Prayer and Praise. Seventy-six Morning Hymns, with Prayers for a Month. 100 pages. Cloth, 1/- net. Home Words Office.

6. Prayer and Praise for Eventide. Prayers, Collects, with seventy-two Evening Hymns, for Four Weeks, Sacred Seasons, and Special Occasions. Third Thousand. 100 pages. Cloth, 1/- net. Home Words Office.

7. * John Wyclif: His Times and His Work. 28 pages. Tenth Thousand. One Penny. Jas. Nisbet & Co.

8. * The Case against Disestablishment. 44 pages. Tenth thousand. Twopence. Home Words Office.

9. * God and Caesar: Their Relative Claims. A Sermon preached in the Parish Church, Sheffield, on "Corporation Sunday", November, 1887. 12 pages. (Reprinted in this volume).

10. * Nonconformity in Poor Parishes. 14 pages. Twopence. Church Defence Institution.

11. "The Voice Divine." 24 pages. Tenth Thousand. One Penny. Home Words Office.

12. * Why I am a Churchman. 24 pages. Sixteenth Thousand. One Penny. Home Words Office.

13. Romanizing Literature in the Church of England. 20 pages. Third Thousand. One Penny. Home Words Office.

14. * Catholic or Protestant: Which or Both? 8 pages. National Church League.

15. * What manner of Child shall this be? Friendly Words to a Mother. 16 pages. Tenth Thousand. One Penny. Home Words Office.

16. * The Sheffield Churchman's Handbook. Fifth Thousand. Threepence. J. W. Northend.

[ * Footnote – These are now out of print. ]

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Beginning of this chapter

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Full Contents


Sheffield in the 'Sixties
The author's reminiscences of 'Old Sheffield' and its inhabitants.


The Church in Sheffield, 1866-1916
Brief history of the church in Sheffield and its development, timetable of subjects and tutors from an Educational Institute Class List of 1866, clergy names, benefactors, details of churches/parishes, etc — this chapter has been split into two pages, the link taking you to the first of these.


Memories of St. Simon's, 1877-1888
Details of this parish in one of the most densely-populated areas of Sheffield, anecdotes, names, etc.


Christ Church, Heeley, 1888-1916
History, descriptions and anecdotes of Heeley before it became developed, names of residents, and a comprehensive account of the author's incumbency, including details of the church extensions, building of the Sunday Schools, fundraising, collections and expenditure, a little about Nonconformists, names of curates/scripture readers/deaconesses/churchwardens etc, and the author's eventual retirement — this chapter has been split into two pages, the link taking you to the first of these.


Heeley and the War
Names of congregation members fallen in the Great War, including one VC (Sgt-Maj J C Raynes, Royal Artillery, with citation given), together with extracts from letters written by servicemen giving accounts of conditions at the front (France, Belgium, Egypt), their experiences in battle, and thoughts of home; also an account from a survivor of the sinking of the hospital ship 'Anglia' in the Channel.


Recollections – Men and Things
Many names and anecdotes of clergy, laymen and others known and befriended during the author's ministry — this chapter has been split into two pages, the link taking you to the first of these.


THIS PAGE: Books and Travel.


In Memoriam – Mary Odom
A very personal tribute from the author to his wife, Mary, who died in 1913.


"God and Caesar." A Sermon preached before the Mayor and Corporation.
Text of a sermon preached at Sheffield Parish Church in 1887.


"Public Worship – its Methods." A Paper read at the Islington Clerical Meeting, London, 1903.
Text includes the author's observations on the principles established at the time of the Reformation, the dangers of a return to 'mediaevalism', and public worship as laid out in the Book of Common Prayer.

Names of Subscribers
(the names of over 250 subscribers listed alphabetically by surname, of interest to those who may be "ancestor hunting" (in many cases only initials are given, not christian names).
Please note these are only the names of pre-publication subscribers as printed in the book, but many more individuals are mentioned in the text whose names have not been indexed. Throughout this transcript most names have been highlighted in bold at least once (not necessarily if they are repeated). If searching for specific surnames, place names or any other information through the various chapters, make use of the Find or Search facility in your browser while on each page.

Illustrations from the book — click thumbnails for enlargement in a new window
(for chapters and contents, see list above)

Interior of Sheffield Cathedral - click for enlargement

Interior of Sheffield Cathedral Church
(St Peter & St Paul)

Leonard Hedley Burrows, Bishop of Sheffield - click for enlargement

The Bishop of Sheffield, Leonard Hedley Burrows, D.D.,
to whom the book is dedicated

St Simon's Church, Sheffield - click for enlargement

St. Simon's Church, Sheffield (covered in Chapter III)

Exterior of Christ Church, Heeley - click for enlargement

Christ Church, Heeley: exterior
(the author's time at Heeley is covered in Chapter IV)

Interior of Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Heeley Church: Interior

Floor plan of Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Floor plan of Heeley Church,
dating the various extensions

Whit-Monday at Heeley - click for enlargement

Whit-Monday at Heeley
(no date given, but possibly ca. 1916/1917)

Heeley Vicarage - click for enlargement

Heeley Vicarage
The individuals are not named, but could well be Rev and Mrs Odom

Rev. Canon William Odom - click for enlargement

The author,
Rev. Canon William Odom

Memorial Cross, Heeley Churchyard - click for enlargement

Memorial Cross for Mary Odom,
Heeley Churchyard (see Chapter VIII)

Memorial Window, Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Memorial and Commemoration Window, Heeley Church

Dedication - click for enlargement

This copy of the book includes a handwritten dedication
from the author to the Bishop of Sheffield, 1917

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