Fundenhall – St. Nicholas’s Church (Gerard Barton)

This memorial tablet commemorating the life of the Reverend Gerard Barton is located on the wall of St. Nicholas’s Church in Fundenhall.

The tablet usefully explains the significance of Gerard’s contribution towards the church, namely that:

“As a layman, in the absence of a resident minister, he was a father to the people, restored this church and for fourteen years was a bright example of truth, uprightness and charity to all around”.

Gerard was born on 19 September 1834 in Stoughton, Sussex, the son of John Barton and Frances Barton. He married Elizabeth Hazard in 1856 and they had twelve children between the years of 1858 and 1879. The youngest, Conrad Barton, was born at Freiburg in Baden where Gerard was serving as a Chaplain. He returned back to Fundenhall where he continued to live in The Grange (a building which is still standing today) and the family clearly retained some wealth given that they had six servants at the property at the 1881 census.

The church was in the 1850s crumbling and in risk of collapse if nothing was done about it. Barton was the main funder of the entire project and it was he who commissioned Richard Phipson to undertake the repair and restoration work. It was only in the last fifteen years that another restoration project was necessary, thanks to the funding that he provided back in the 1860s.

Gerard died at his house at 10A Kirkley Cliff in Lowestoft on 6 October 1889, at the age of 55. As an aside, one of his daughters, Madeline Barton, married William Horace Lascelles (1868-1949) and his half-brother was Henry Lascelles, whose son married Princess Mary, who was the daughter of King George V.