Two 19th century incumbents of St Oswald’s parish church at Filey in North Yorkshire, are particularly remembered for their differing eccentricities.
The Rev. Evan Williams was a Perpetual Curate at the church from 1809 to 1833 and lived alone in the Church House. He would not allow any woman into the house and it is said that he would buy just one shilling’s worth of fish for his food, and his milk was delivered to him in a pitcher which he let down on a rope from an upstairs window. Sometimes, soon after commencing a service, he would announce that there would not be a sermon and then he would depart quickly, locking the church door behind him. Instead of the Church Wardens being the choice of one by the parishioners and one by the vicar at St Oswald’s, it had always been customary for both to be selected by the parishioners. This was challenged by the Rev. Williams, but his law suit found favour with the established tradition, at a cost of £90 to the church.
The Rev. A.N Cooper was a much loved vicar of Filey for 55 years (1880 – 1935). He was known as The Walking Parson, and wrote several books about his travels both at home and abroad. He thought nothing of walking from Filey to London after Sunday evensong, returning by train in time for the following Sunday. On Easter Monday 1887, he set off to walk to Rome and, having walked to Hull he took the ferry to Rotterdam and, averaging some 30 miles a day, he completed the journey in one month. During his walks on the continent he reached Budapest, Vienna, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Lourdes, Copenhagen and Stockholm. His only luggage was a small knapsack containing a change of underwear and his bible.
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Photo taken in Filey, North Yorkshire, UK
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