Article by Douglas Ashby, transcribed by John Meads

Ronald Williamson Sharpley:

Ronald Williamson Sharpley, Rector 1937-1967

In 1937, at the age of 39, Mr. Sharpley, a bachelor, exchanged livings with the then Rector, Revd. H. T. A. Edwards, and came to Burton Latimer from Cropredy near Banbury. (To read about his ministry at Cropredy, click here.)

The Rectory in those days was a large 18th century house with many rooms and extensive grounds with tennis courts and kitchen gardens.

Early in the 1939-1945 war, much of the rectory was occupied by the military. Mr. Sharpley moved out and took rooms in the School House where Mrs. Doris Smith, Headmistress of the Church Infants School lived. However, he eventually moved back into the rectory where the large drawing room was partitioned off as his living quarters.

After the war, Mr. Sharpley opened up the house again and the large 19th century Victorian wing was demolished leaving the original Georgian building.

Mr. Sharpley's mother came from the distinguished family of Lamplugh. An ancestor, Thomas, was Archbishop of York in the 1660's and Mr. Sharpley's brother, Norman became Bishop of Southampton, taking the name of Lamplugh.

The Lamplugh family home was the Old Court House at Hampton Court which had been the home of Sir Christopher Wren and this is where Mr. Sharpley spent much of his childhood. His grandfather was a cousin of the Duke of Hamilton and they also had a villa in Italy near Florence and a seaside house at Hove.

After the death of an uncle, Mr. Sharpley inherited numerous antiques and works of art which he brought to Burton Latimer and the rectory was richly furnished. A 16th century suit of armour, which he named "Horace", stood on an angle of the 18th century walnut staircase. In the drawing room a lifesize figure of a Regency lady occupied a sedan chair. She was known as "Araminta". The same room contained a 17th century Mortlake tapestry and display cabinets held Nelson's shaving mirror, a lock of Bonnie Prince Charlie's hair in a silver casket, a ring holding the diamond from Disraeli's Order of the Garter and a tea service which once belonged to Madam Tussaud.

In the study was a portrait of Thomas Lamplugh, Archbishop of York 1660 and other treasures too numerous to mention.

Mr. Sharpley did not enjoy good health; he served in the First World War and had been gassed. About 1964 he purchased the old Rectory at Little Oakley for when he retired. Sadly the contents of the rectory began to be broken up and disposed of at auctions.

At Easter 1969, after only two years at Little Oakley, Mr. Sharpley died aged 71 and was buried in our lower churchyard.

Knowing the large old rectory at Burton Latimer would not be occupied by his successor, the Revd. Derek Hole, the diocese put the property on the market, but attempts to sell failed and after much vandalism and deterioration the house was demolished in 1971. The houses in Church View now occupy the site.

To read about the Reverend Sharpley's death, click here.