The Reverend Clitheroe

The Reverend Graham William Clitheroe was curate at All Saints from 1908 – 1911.  Ordained deacon in 1908 and priested a year later, All Saints’ was his first parish.

One of his earliest claims to fame was that he was summoned to appear before Mortlake Petty Sessions in April 1911 for allowing his dog to disturb the deer in Richmond Park!!   A pleasant bicycle ride in the company of a young lady had turned a trifle sour when the reverend gentleman’s dog – a wire-haired terrier – somewhat characteristically decided that the deer offered better sport than his master, who, quite probably, had his attentions elsewhere. Once the dog had taken off there was little that could be done for, although small, it could easily outrun a curate on a bike! The incident cost Mr. Clitheroe a fine of 10 shillings, plus a further 9/6d. in costs and, no doubt, more than a little embarrassment!  

He left All Saints for Lewisham (1911-12), S. Cyprian, Brockley (1912-15), Limpsfield, S. Andrew (1915-20), Buckland Brewer (1920-26), All Saints’, Wolverhampton (1926-31), Vicar of Holy Trinity Coventry from 1931 until 1964. Described as a high Anglo-Catholic whilst at Coventry he wrote the book – “Coventry Under Fire”  His church was one of the few buildings of stature that escaped destruction during the bombing raids of the second world war. It was not simply a lucky escape though…. he and a team of fire-fighters bravely averted the danger from the falling incendiaries during the heaviest raid on November 14th 1940. That Holy Trinity survived was largely due to the amazing efforts, preparation and bravery of Rev. Clitheroe. He, along with two or three others, including his curate and one of his sons, defended the church building from incendiaries and explosive devices all night. They had been sleeping in the North Porch to allow them to keep watch during previous raids and Rev Clitheroe had bought hydrants and ladders which they used to stop fires taking hold. They continually extinguished fires around the building and even pushed bombs off the church roof to stop further damage. They also took in exhausted fire crews and let them rest in the North Porch.

Rev. Clitheroe knew what a powerful symbol the church still standing was to a traumatised city and he hung huge signs on the church, stating that “It all depends on us and we depend on God”. Holy Trinity also went on to host the cathedral congregation, Rev Clitheroe sharing sermons with Provost Howard, until 1945.

He married Gladys Margaret who is interred alongside him in Holy Trinity Church, Coventry.

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