Reverend Edward Stevens (1832 – 1898)

The Reverend Edward Thomas Stevens was Vicar of Sibford Gower and Sibford Ferris from 1874 until his death on 15 October 1898. He was born on 24 October 1832 in Ipswich, Suffolk, where he received his early education.

He obtained his BA in 1871 and MA in 1875 at Worcester College, Oxford. He was ordained in 1871 and was Curate in Sandford-on-Thames, 1871 – 1874, and Chaplain at New College, Oxford, 1873 – 1874.

On 22 December 1853 he married Isabella Hannah Cooper (“Bell”) in Halifax, Yorkshire, stating his occupation as “Schoolmaster”. They had four children:

  • Isabella Rosa, baptised on 23 January 1855;
  • Harry, born 12 September 1859 who, after what appears to have been a difficult childhood eventually became a vicar and presided at Stevens’s funeral in Sibford;
  • William, born three months prematurely in 1871, who survived just one day;
  • Frank, born on 30 July 1875, was theatrical in childhood and eventually changed his name to Frank Lascelles and became a well known Pageant Master. When not travelling around the world staging pageants, Frank lived in some style in Sibford Gower where he converted a few dwellings and a barn into what he named The Manor House.

From 1875 the family lived in the property now known as The Old Rectory, opposite the pond in Sibford Gower. Edward Stevens and his wife are buried in Sibford Churchyard. Their son Frank Lascelles sculpted a statue of a bronze angel in 1928 and placed it on their grave as a memorial. This statue, known by villagers as the Spirit of Sibford, was stolen from the Churchyard in 1999 but fortunately recovered in 2000 and replaced in its original position.

The diary

Stevens maintained a handwritten diary in small 200-page notebooks, over the years 1871 to 1897. Some of these volumes have been lost; however, eight are in the possession of the Sibfords History Society, together with some typed (occasionally handwritten) transcripts of selections from the lost volumes that were made in the 1970s by Leslie Baily.

All diary entries from the available originals, plus those copied by Leslie Baily, have been transcribed onto this website – over 3000 in all. Some notes about the transcriptions:

  • To make the transcriptions easier to read, we have freely expanded many of Stevens’s abbreviations and modified his punctuation.
  • In some places the handwriting is hard to decipher. We have used question marks to indicate places where we are uncertain. If you can fill in the missing parts, or wish to correct what you think is a transcription error, please let us know.
  • Each transcription is accompanied by an image of the corresponding source document, whether it be the handwritten diary or Leslie Baily’s transcript. Click on the date to view it.

The video below records a presentation given to the Sibfords History Society on 17 September 2020. The event was run under COVID restrictions, with a limited audience in Sibford Village Hall and others watching online via Zoom, in which the recording was made. There are occasional stalls and distortions, but most of it can be followed easily enough. Note that an eighth volume of the diaries (May 1894 – March 1895) was added to the SHS collection in March 2023, after this presentation.