The Revd Frederick H.J. Newton
The Reverend F.H.J. Newton came to the village of Ashwell from Blackheath, a much larger parish in London.
It may be that he saw Ashwell as his 'retirement' parish.
He followed a rather free and easy Rector -. Panajotti Webb but Father Newton, as he liked to be called, was a high churchman and he introduced a sung Eucharist at 9 o'clock on Sunday mornings. For this service he had his own specially printed service books and at first he was regarded by the village with some trepidation.
However, he had a more human side after all. He entered a competition run by Bovril and won a cash prize for his slogan 'BOVRIL PUTS BEEF INTO YOU'. But he preferred beer to Bovril and ordered it by the cask from Fordham's brewery. He occasionally varied this with Simpson's beer which he collected from the 'jug and bottle' at the Three Tuns in two of his own quart bottles.
Father Newton was described as having an 'angelic' face with a twinkle in his eye. As was fashionable in those days he used a holder to smoke his cigarettes and he also had a noisy, rather fast car. One of his other noticeable eccentricities was that he wore soft black leather shoes with large silver buckles for services.
One anecdote about him comes from the book 'A Different World' by Albert Sheldrick. Apparently, Father Newton was in a hurry to conclude the funeral service in church one day and he gave the signal rather early to the undertaker, Fred Bray, to carry the coffin out of the church. As Father Newton followed the mourners down the chancel aisle, he suddenly stopped and said' I have forgotten the two hymns!' Fred instantly replied 'Just carry on, we can't go back now'!
Another anecdote from this book is about Mrs Newton. She ran a local school for young ladies but it also seemed appropriate that she should be asked to take part in some church activities. However, when invited to preside over the Mothers' Union she politely refused with the reply "Like the Holy Ghost, I shall look on".