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1939: The Passing of Reverend T.G. Wyatt - "A lovable old gentleman, and one who loved us."

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 23 May 1939



The Man who nobly served the Church and his generation

Parishioners of St Wilfrid’s in particular and residents of Haywards Heath in general Will be grieved to hear that the rev T. G. Wyatt, for 27 years Vicar of Haywards Heath, died at his residence, Little Haywards, on Friday. He was 85 on May 4 last. Heart trouble had occasioned him anxiety for some time, and he took to his bed before Christmas. He was unconscious for three days prior to his death.

Mr Wyatt was the son of the first vicar of Haywards Heath, the Rev R. E. Wyatt, and succeeded him as Vicar in 1891. The living was in the gift of the Vicar of Cuckfield then Canon Cooper. Mr Wyatt and his father between them had charge of the parish for 62 years. As a boy of nine, Mr Wyatt was present when the corner stone of st Wilfrid's Church was laid 75 years ago and up to the last he had a vivid recollection of this.


The Rev T. G. Wyatt “fathered” his flock, and during his years as vicar he not only ministered unsparingly to both the spiritual and material needs of the parishioners, but set out, often at personal sacrifice to himself, to ensure the future well-being of the parish.

He was a man with a wonderful executive force and a genius for organisation, and, what was more, he had vision. Combined with a fluent tongue was a keen sense of humour, and this made him everybody's friend.


His last public appearance at Haywards Heath was on September fifth 1937, when he laid the foundation stone of the new St Richards Church, on a site which he had given (incidentally, the vicarage is also the outcome of his generosity).

Outlining the history of the Church building in the town in 81 years, mr Wyatt said” the Church has always tried to keep pace with the continued development and growth of Haywards Heath.” He did not mention however, how much he had done to achieve this end.

Originally, Mr Wyatt intended to become a barrister, but being assured by an oral surgeon that the deafness which troubled him would increase as he grew older, he decided to enter the church. Educated at Lancing College and at Trinity College, Oxford he took his B. A. in 1877. He was ordained in 1878, and appointed curate of Christ Church, West Bromwich. After a year there he came to St Wilfrid’s, Haywards Heath, as curate to his father, the Rev R. E. Wyatt. He took his M. A. Degree in 1880, and became vicar of Haywards Heath on his father’s death in 1891.


were full and fruitful ones. The first achievement of note was the completion in 1892, of the endowment fund raised as a memorial to Mr Wyatt's father, who worked for 35 years in Haywards Heath. This fund amounted to £2030. The income of the living was raised by £60 80s annually. During that year, the parish room, which had been built next to the vicarage, was opened.

In 1894, as a result of an anonymous gift, I fund for providing part of the stipend of a second curate was established. It was then that part of Wivelsfield, known as the asylum corner, and part of Keymer on the opposite side of the road well formally transferred to the ecclesiastical parish of St Wilfrid’s.

In 1895 the chapel of the Ascension in the asylum twitten (now replaced by St Edmunds Church in Wivelsfield road) was opened to meet the needs of the newly added corner. A new infant school was opened in the same year. This had accommodation for 240 children, and was the gift of the Misses Otter.

The following year a field below the churchyard which had been bought by the vicar was made over to the ecclesiastical commissioners, the larger part to be an addition to the churchyard and the smaller part and addition to the vicarage garden. This step postponed the need of a cemetery for a number of years.

The chapel of the holy spirit, in Sydney Road, which later became known as St Richards (the conventional district of St Richard’s was formed in 1916), was erected in 1897 to meet the needs of the increased population at the north end of St Wilfrid's Parish. Built as a temporary church, the “tin tabernacle” had to do duty for 40 years. Also in 1897 the permanent Church of the presentation, in New England Road, was opened, this being the gift of Miss Mary Otter.

Church of the Presentation

Following the formation of the St Wilfrid's company of the church lads brigade, the C. L. B. Hall, in Gower Road, was opened in 1898.

And so into the next century this


went steadily on, and with Haywards Heath increasing in importance and with the vicar devoting himself as assiduously to furthering its civic progress as he did to ministering to the spiritual needs of its inhabitants.

It was at the Easter vestry meeting in April, 1918, that Mr Wyatt announced that he was resigning at michaelmas on account of increasing deafness. He preached his farewell sermon on September 29th.

On October 23, at St Wilfrid's Parish room, he was publicly presented by the late Miss Otter with a cheque for £251 and an album containing a list of the names of over 800 subscribers.

Thanking the parishioners for their gift, mr Wyatt mentioned that during the last 55 years Haywards Heath had grown from a little country place with about 200 people to greater Haywards Heath with a population of over 6000, and during all that time of its rise and development his family had been associated with it.

It was a great wrench for Mr Wyatt, whose wife, a daughter of the late admiral the honourable T. A. Pakenham passed away on June 2, 1922 to leave Haywards Heath, for he loved the place and its people. Every part of the town that was dear to him, and his flock returned his affection for them. He chose Horley Beyond three bridges as the place in which to end his days, and he named his house “Little Haywards”. “faithful jack”, as mr J. E. Shirley was familiarly called colour continued in his service as gardener, a position he has held for 46 years.

Mr Wyatt did not sever all his associations with Haywards Heath, however. Keenly interested in church schools and religious education, he was actively connected with the mid Sussex Branch of the church managers and teachers Association for 58 years, resigning Office as honorary Treasurer only as recently as last March. He was also honorary secretary for a number of years, and was the chief vitalising force of the branch to use the words of the Rev W. Loveland, the former president. He had been chairman of the St Wilfrid's school managers, and he also served on the Haywood sees group of council school managers.


found in Mr Wyatt a staunch supporter. Before the Haywards Heath cricket club was formed, a working men's club was run in connection with St Wilfrid's Church, and he was honorary treasurer. The ground was in a meadow on Little haywards Farm.

He was also greatly interested in horticultural matters, and acted as honorary Treasurer of the Haywards Heath and Mid Sussex horticultural society when it was established in 1889. He resigned the office in 1906, since when he has been a vice president. He was a regular visitor to the shows in Victoria park when his health permitted. The Brighton Hove and Sussex horticultural society also had his support, and he frequently figured in the prize lists at these shows.

When he retired in 1918, mr Wyatt said “wherever my home is, it will be a home with garden,” and little Haywards was that home. In the twilight of his life he loved to wander and contemplate in his garden, finding there the peace he had so richly earned.

And when he took to his bed for the last time mr Wyatt still had a cheery words for those who came to see him and a kindly thought for his old friends at Haywards Heath.

The funeral Will be at Haywards Heath this (Tuesday) afternoon. The first part of the service Will be held at St Wilfrid's Church at 2:30 PM. The Bishop of Lewes has promised to attend. The interment will be at the cemetery.


Tribute the memory of the Rev. T. G. Wyatt was paid in Heath Parish Church at Sung Eucharist on Sunday morning and also at Evensong. The Eucharist, which was sung to Harwood's setting in A Flat, was preceded by a rendering on the organ of the "Dead March” in "Saul" (Handel) by Mr, Brian D. Hildyard. The service included the singing of the hymn "Peace. Perfect Peace." The Vicar (the Rev. H. A. Thomas) appropriately chose the subject of his sermon "The expediency of the Ascension." He mentioned how the Ascension of our Lord sanctified all partings, and went on to speak of Mr. Wyatt's devotion to the festival, of how the older people in the parish would remember that it was always very strongly marked during his vicariate and of how it had been Mr. Wyatt's wish, which was granted, that he should have just lived over the festival. The Vicar particularly referred Mr. Wyatt’s type of churchmanship and to the fact that he was one who faithfully carried out the spiritual ideals of the Oxford Movement, and taught the Faith in its fullness without the introduction of the points of ritual which most people identified with that movement. He spoke, too, of how Mr. Wyatt laid the firm foundations of the Christian life in the parish and by his example endeared himself to his people. “Now the Labourer's Task is over” was a special hymn sung during Evensong, at which the Vicar again preached. His text was “Moreover it is required in stewards that man be found faithful,” and concluding his discourse said they were all thinking about the passing of the Rev. T. G. Wyatt, to whom the phrase


could truly be applied. Mr. Wyatt served the parish from 1879 to 1891 as curate and from 1891 to as Vicar- practically forty years. Whether he was ever offered preferment they did not know, but. if he was. they knew that he preferred to stay St. Wilfrid's. The outstanding quality of his work was faithfulness to the stewardship to which he had been called. He put first his work for the Kingdom of God in this place. The centre of his life was St. Wilfrid’s. The Vicar recalled how it was largely owing to Mr. Wyatt's exertions and generosity that the endowment was built up, and how he gave the Easter offerings to the fund. He also spoke of his great devotion the children and the school, and of the large part played in the development of the town many directions. Mr. Wyatt remained in touch with St. Wilfrid's until the end of his life, and continually prayed for its people. On the last occasion which (the Vicar) saw him. Mr. Wyatt mentioned several names, asking if they still came to church and adding “ I pray for them every night." After the Blessing had been pronounced, the Dead March in "Saul" was again played by the organist.


Preaching at St, Richard's Church on Sunday evening, the Vicar (the Rev. W. P. Wyley) said: "I think that it right that before our prayers, I should refer to the great loss which the whole of Haywards Heath has sustained in the death of the Rev. T.G. Wyatt. the second Vicar of St. Wilfrid's. And his loss is especially felt at St. Richard's because it was due to his foresight and energy that we exist to-day as a separate parish with our own permanent church. His father was largely the founder, and the first Vicar of St. Wilfrid's Church. Mr. Wyatt foresaw as long as forty-two years ago the development that would take place, and the need for a new church and parish at the other end of the town. It was due to him that the original Mission Chapel of the Holy Spirit was built and opened in 1897: also that in 1916 the Conventional District of St. Richard was made, with the Rev. K. F. W, Eliot as first Priest-in-charge. Mr. Wyatt gave, as


the present Vicarage and its grounds, which include the ground upon which this church is built. He always took the keenest interest in the progress of St. Richard's, and it was one of the greatest joys of his declining years that he was able to come over himself and lay the foundation stone of our beautiful church. He lived also to see his dream come true in the assignment of a separate legal parish and the appointment of the first Vicar. There are many of you who are older residents of Haywards Heath, or who grew here as children, who will remember with love and gratitude his ministry here and his character. I am but a newcomer, but the first few days of ministry here I received a most encouraging and sympathetic letter from him. and the occasions when I visited him I received the greatest kindness and friendliness. To all who knew him. however slightly, he gave the impression of a gracious, kindly. Christian priest - a lovable old gentleman, and one who loved us.”


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