Rev. John Burdon by John Right


Meeting 11th February 2010

Rev. John Burdon – a Man of Many Parts a talk by John Bright.

John Burdon was an enterprising and entertaining man, who was rector of English Bicknor from 1844 to 1877, at which time the parish numbered only 400. He became good friends with the influential Machen family; and was responsible for building several churches back home in the north, as well as Lydbrook in 1851 (although it was agreed between John and the audience that others helped including the Machens) and Welsh Bicknor; plus the renovation of Ruardean, Christchurch, Coleford, Drybrook and English Bicknor churches.

John regaled us with a series of episodes as recounted by Rev. Burdon’s daughter.

Rev. Burdon had his own way of dealing with issues. Revellers at the pub opposite the rectory (presumably The Bear) were constantly causing problems late at night; he lay in wait for one particular re-offender, took off his coat and challenged him to settle it. There was no more trouble. A similar story was told of him in the House of Commons, when he had challenged three reprobates from Joyford who were disturbing a sermon.

He had enjoyed keeping records of odd names; one of the favourites was the well known local Jordan family who named a child River.

He had a cupboard full of potions for those who could not afford a doctor. A parishioner who swallowed a pin was given a choice of remedy – either a large dose of medicine or a large meal (which he offered to provide). The meal was chosen, and the patient survived.

Even at 60 he was still in great physical shape – one day his wife asked him where he had been, and was told he’d been up the church steeple to fix the cockerel weather vane.

Reminders of this ‘man of many parts’ include the east window of the church and the Burdon Oak (it was noted that the signage and approach for the Oak need some attention ).