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Vicars and Rectors of the Parish

(A complete ‘rogues gallery’ hangs in the vestry!) 

1846 Charles Cameron 

Charles Cameron was educated at Queen's College, Oxford where he had received his B.A. in 1834. He had been in charge of the old Worsley School, later known as St Mark's School, which had been licensed for Divine Worship since 1838. He was an Evangelical type of clergyman with decided views on the bringing up of children and was a prolific writer of religious articles, tracts and parochial sermons. He left to take up a position at Oxhey, in Herts 


Henry Francis Beesley, Bolton Waller Johnstone, George Young Osborne 


Little is known of these three clergymen who appear to have been at St Mark for very short periods 


1850 Canon St Vincent Beechey  

One of the 21 children of the court painter to Queen Charlotte (wife of George III), and a godson of Lord Nelson, after whose exploits at the Battle of Cape St Vincent he was named. One of the founders of Rossall School in Fleetwood, he had a keen interest in education and helped form the Worsley Literary Institute, which had over 200 members. He was also a keen photographer and astronomer. He was 66 when he left St Mark’s, but served for a further 23 years as Rector of Hilgay in Norfolk and died in 1899 aged 93. His memorial stands in the churchyard of St mark, underneath the east window 


1872 The Earl of Mulgrave  

Constantine Charles Henry Phipps, son of the Marquis of Normanby and brother of the Countess of Ellesmere, was the second Vicar. A bachelor, he was a dedicated and progressive priest who introduced – against initial opposition - choral services, a robed choir and a new organ into the newly-embellished chancel. (The organist from 1872 to 1925 was Reginald Froude Coules, a pupil of Dr John Stainer and grandson-in-law of Beechey.) Choristers were taken to stay at the family home, Mulgrave Castle near Whitby. He formed a team of parish workers. He was a keen supporter of the temperance movement and established a local ‘Coffee Palace & Restaurant’, later known as the Lady Ellesmere Coffee Tavern, in the Old Mill at the bottom of Mill Brow. Allegedly for health reasons, from 1884 he spent the winters as chaplain of the English church of All Saints, San Remo, and moved there full-time when he inherited his father’s title – but lived on to the age of 86 


1890 Frederick Karslake Hodgkinson  

A southerner, and only 28 on his appointment, it took time for him to win people’s confidence, but he was a hard worker and continued the programme of alterations and improvements, and in 1902 opened the mission church in Winton before moving south again to become vicar of Stanway in Essex 


1907 Thomas Harrison  

He came from a parish in Dewsbury, and was a lecturer for the Palestine Exploration Fund, with a great knowledge of the Bible lands. During his brief stay, the Education Act increased the financial burden on the parish. After just three years he too went south to become vicar of Margate 


1910 Campbell Blethyn Hulton  

A Lancastrian and barrister before ordination, he came from a parish in Bedfordshire and was remembered as a ‘refreshing and robust Christian’ of broad-minded views, with a strong sense of humour. The First World War (during which he drove the tractor plough ‘Pretty Polly’, and served for a time in France) changed attitudes to religion and parish life, and he moved on, first to Southport and then to Emberton, Bucks, where he died in 1947 


1918 Canon Harry William Thorne  

Like others who returned to parishes after serving as chaplains in the First World War, he came with shocking experiences of suffering and a deep sense of the importance of prayer for the departed; they also realised as never before the ignorance and alienation from the church of ‘ordinary’ men. This was a time of social change. Women got the vote – and a say in the councils of the churches too. Locally, his ministry saw the separation of the new parish of St Mary Magdalen Winton, and the departure of the Ellesmeres – both with heavy financial implications. Father Thorne (as he asked to be called) introduced a controversial high church style which divided the parish. He left to become Director of Religious Education in Rochester Diocese, later becoming an Honorary Canon of Rochester Cathedral, Rector of Leybourne in Kent, and a Proctor of Convocation. He died in 1948 


1930 Canon Isaac Renshaw  

A ‘broad churchman’ who reversed the trend of his predecessor – it’s rumoured that he buried vestments in opened graves! He was a great fundraiser (which proved necessary for major work on spire and bells) and introduced popular services, such as the Good Night Service on Sundays in Lent, directed at young people. These were reported in the local and national press and occasionally broadcast. He suffered from bad health which culminated in him leaving the parish to move to South Croyden. He died in 1957, 10 years after leaving Worsley 


1947 Canon Colin Lamont  

The church was now a hundred years old, and he faced many repair and restoration projects, for which his time in the new estates at Wythenshawe, creating the new parish of St Luke Benchill, stood him in good stead. It was a tribute to his infectious energy and goodwill that such difficulties were overcome. He moved in 1952 to the ancient parish church of St Michael, Ashton-under-Lyne, from where he retired in 1969 at the age of 70 


1953 Tom Billington  

There are still many tales told about Tom Billington – some of them linked to his regular place in the local pubs! Educated in Manchester, he had served in four parishes in the Manchester area before coming to Worsley and was its second longest-serving incumbent when he retired to Yorkshire in 1972. His widow Flo, who was a tower of strength in the parish and involved with the Mothers’ Union at a national level, visited the parish regularly until her death on the first day of the new millennium. His artist son Nigel was involved in decorating the chancel roof 


1972 Canon Peter Samuel Griswold Cameron  

Like Colin Lamont, Peter Cameron came from establishing a ‘new’ church – in Davyhulme; previously he had served in St Alban’s, Bristol and Cambridge, and returned to Ely diocese after his ministry here, eventually going to Grantchester as non-stipendiary priest-in-charge. He tackled the overgrown portion of the old churchyard with a major scheme for its closure and landscaping, for which we remain in his debt. He died in July 2000, just a few days after being made an honorary Canon 


1980 The Venerable Dr Mark Dalby  

Mark was born in Southport, and as a keen family historian delighted in tracing and visiting relatives all over the world. He served in Oxford and Birmingham dioceses before holding a national post as a selector for ordination training – an interest he maintained when he moved to Worsley. In his time the Team Ministry was created, and he became the first Team Rector. He became Archdeacon of Rochdale in 1991 – maintaining his links with the parish where he was much-loved – and ‘retired’ to a pastoral ministry in Malvern in 1999.  He died in February 2013 at the age of 75. 


1994 Canon Michael Ainsworth  

Michael came from a south Manchester parish, before which he worked in ordination training and in a church college of education. Michael became an honorary Canon of Manchester Cathedral in 2005. He moved in 2007 to become Rector at St George in the East, London, following his wife's promotion to the prestigious position of Chief Education Officer of the Church of England 


2008 Geoffrey Turner 

Geoffrey took up the post of Team Rector in July 2008.  Before coming to St Mark's, Geoffrey was Team Rector of Heywood, having previously served as a Team Vicar in the same parish, following a curacy at St James, East Crompton.  Before ordination, Geoffrey spent eighteen years teaching Classics and doing pastoral work in comprehensive schools in Manchester and Salford.  Geoffrey retired from the clergy in October 2016.

2017 Mark Williams


Mark came to be Team Rector in October 2017 having been a Vicar in Burnley and a Team Vicar in Barnet.  Before that, he was Curate in Bishop's Stortford and before ordination in 2000 a teacher in Blackburn.  He moved in October 2019 to become Rector of the Benefice of Bowland in the Diocese of Blackburn.


2021 Adam Whittle


Revd Adam Whittle is the first Rector to be Team Rector of the Worsley Team and incumbent of Holy Rood, Swinton held in plurality. Adam hails from Bolton, he first started to sense God's call to ordination all the way back to 2012.  He was Curate at Christ Church in Pennington from 2018 to 2021.  Before ordination he worked for HMRC.  He is married to Laura and has two small children, Sebastian and Hannah.

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