Henry Whitehead (1825-1896)

The vicar responsible for the building of St. Martin's, He was born in Ramsgate, Kent, and educated at Lincoln College, Oxford. In 1859 he was curate of St Luke's, Berwick Street,Soho, when a disastrous cholera epidemic occurred. Within ten days 700 people died within a circuit of 250 yards radius. When Dr. John Snow suggested that water was the agent of infection, Whitehead did not believe him and set out to disprove the theory. The result was a conclusive proof that Snow was right, and for this proof Whitehead takes his place in medical history, as was recorded by S.P.W.Chave in 1958.

As vicar of St. John's, Limehouse, he became a well-known Broad Churchman, but in 1874, at the invitation of George Howard, he was appointed vicar of Brampton.

He found a very poor Georgian church with appropriated pews, and set about having a new church built.

He had a reconciling personality, and healed deep divisions caused by his predecessor's reforming zeal, and won the confidence of non-conformists.

In Brampton he took up the study of local history, and his post-humously published book, "Brampton in the Olden Times", included some of his researches. He was a pioneer in recording church silver, plate and bells. He was committed to achieving a set of Morris windows, and vetoed a suggestion of going to a cheaper maker.

As the vicarage was well out of town, the Naworth estate had Green Lane house built to Webb's design for the vicar to live in.

He left Brampton in 1888 and was at first vicar of Newlands, and then of Newton Reigny, and in 1890 returned to the neighbourhood as vicar of Lanercost. He died there in 1896 and was buried at Brampton Old Church. To commemorate him his wife gave the round window in the south-west corner, of souls received into Paradise, and the parish the windows in the baptistry. In 1906 the tower was completed in his memory, and the figure of St. Martin by the west door added.

Canon H.D.Rawnsley published a biography in 1898, and Peter Burn added his reminiscences of him as a 'Non-conformist's Tribute' soon afterwards.


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