ARTHUR GEORGE HARPUR HOLLINGSWOTH
Hollingworth was born in 1802 and was baptised on 26th May at Hackney Middlesex, the son of Samuel and Martha Elizabeth nee Kerr. His father thought to be originally from Cheshire was a clergyman but may have taken orders in later life. Hollingsworth in his tells us that his father had served in the royal navy and had been Colonial Secretary in the island of Guadaloupe.
At some time before 1820 the family settled in Ireland and Samuel Hollingsworth became rector of Cove (now Cobh) in County Cork. Arthur Hollingsworth entered Trinity College Dublin in October 1820 aged 18.
After Arthur had taken his degree at Trinity College he was instituted as Curate of Monkstown County Cork on the 13th August 1825. Monkstown was part of his father’s parish of Cove. In 1825 he married Margaret Selby Montfort at Cove Church on 25th June.
Monkstown at that time had no Protestant church of its own but one was built here during the time of Hollingsworth’s incumbency. Hollingsworth is shown to have been a driving force in the fund raising necessary for the venture. This was significant when we look at Hollingsworth’s time in Stowmarket when he raised funds for Stowupland another parish without its own church.
Monkstown church is described thus:
“standing on a picturesque elevation, is a cruciform edifice in the early English style, with a tower and spire, 70 feet high…. it was built of hewn limestone, in 1832, at an expense of £950, raised by subscriptions from the patrons and others; S. Hollingsworth, contributed £350, and the noble proprietors of the estate £100. The bell has on it this inscription: “Monkstown Protestant church, erected by voluntary contributions, collected in Ireland and England by Gerrard Callaghan, Esq., M. P. for Cork, and the Rev. A. G. H. Hollingsworth. The first Protestant church erected since the Reformation. A. G. H. Hollingsworth, the first Protestant incumbent; William Hill, of Cork, architect. The church completed March 1832.”
Soon after this Arthur Hollingsworth saw his future career in England. His father purchased the advowson (the right to nominate a parish priest) of the parish of Stowmarket with a view to his son becoming vicar here when the vacancy arose.
The Reverend William Aldrich was at that time Vicar of Stowmarket, In October 1807 he moved to Boyton near Woodbridge where he was appointed rector. It was possible to hold two or more sometimes distant livings in the church at that time. He had taken this smaller parish and resided there for the rest of his life, preferring to employ curates to look after his other larger parish, rarely returning here himself.
During the thirty years Stowmarket was without a resident vicar a series of curates of varying popularity came and went. The last was Reverend John Bull from 1821 until his death 1835.
Hollingsworth now took over as curate of Stowmarket and Stowupland. On 29th June he took his first marriage service. Hollingsworth continued to serve as curate until Aldrich’s death on 23rd July 1837 aged 74. When Hollingsworth was appointed the town had its resident vicar for 30 years.
A report in The Ipswich Journal painted a picture of his time in Ireland,
“Mr. Hollingsworth had held the vicarage of Monkstown…where he…had the sincere happiness to conciliate the esteem of his parishioners both Protestant, and Roman Catholic.
On his departure from Monkstown Mr. Hollingsworth was presented…with a Piece of Plate and an address expressing deep regret at his departure”. Gratitude was also expressed for his “unwearied exertions during the awful visitation of the cholera and his readiness at all times to alleviate the sufferings of the sick and the destitute. Mr Hollingsworth largely assisted in building a new church at Monkstown, and in collecting funds for that purpose in England – he succeeded by his appeals from the pulpit in obtaining contributions to the amount of £600.”
In Hollingsworth’s reply to the address he told how he had lived “at peace and goodwill with his Roman Catholic neighbours” and that his relationship with the Roman Catholic priest had been that of “gentleman and fellow Christian … without any unnecessary hostile feeling”
After so long without a resident vicar and with curates unwilling to take responsibility for any major work there had been some neglect of Stowmarket church and vicarage. When Hollingsworth took up residence at the Stowmarket Vicarage (now Milton House) the new vicar found it had been neglected in Reverend Aldrich’s time and was much dilapidated. He set about making several repairs employing local builders Daniel Revett and Ephraim Rednall to modernise the mainly 17th century building. More work was done in 1850 adding a large ornate extension to the south front big enough for meetings and gatherings. Work was also initiated in the church removing “many unsightly incumbrances” as Hollingsworth described them. The old box pews were removed and the church re-seated. New galleries were inserted, and the pulpit moved into the centre of the nave. Some £1000 was expended on the work and the seating increased from 800 to accommodate about 1400 people. For Hollingsworth’s part in founding of Stowupland Church see seperate page.
On the completion of a parish church in Stowupland Hollingworth continued to serve both parishes until the Reverend Robert Willan Smith was appointed for Stowupland.
Reverend Hollingsworth must have been an energetic and dynamic character as well as an innovative fund-raiser and publicist. At the same time as he was engaged in the Stowupland Church project he was also preparing to publish his “History of Stowmarket” which appeared the following year. He may not have enjoyed good health and he retired to Felixstowe in the 1850s where he bought land from John Cobbold the Ipswich brewer. He had a house built on the site named Langer House. He also built a house nearby, Tower Cottage, for his mother.
Arthur Hollingsworth died at Felixstowe at the age of 56. It is significant that he chose to be buried in the churchyard of the church he did so much to bring into existence at Stowupland on 8th January 1859. His grave is marked by a Celtic Cross on a plinth, the inscription now sadly difficult to read.