Henry Thorold (1921-2000)
THe Rev Henry Croyland Thorold (which he insisted was pronounced ‘Thorough’) was born into a landed family rooted in Lincolnshire since the reign of Edward III and ended his days as an eccentric country squire.
From an early age, he developed an interest in medieval ecclesiastical architecture, which was grew when he went to Eton. There, the college chapel and then, as an undergraduate, the twelfth-century cathedral of Christ Church, Oxford, influenced his religious views and appealed to his aesthetic sense.
Thorold’s branch of the family had produced generations of clergy and, by nature a traditionalist, he prepared for holy orders at Cuddesdon. He was ordained into the Scottish Episcopal Church during the war and became personal chaplain to the Bishop of Brechin.
Thorold’s national service was spent as a naval chaplain, first in the cruiser HMS Leander and then the depot ship HMS Forth, based in Malta, where he organised trips ashore for the ratings (and himself) to explore the island’s architecture.
On demobolisation, he was appointed chaplain at Lancing College in 1949. He also taught classics and was a somewhat unorthodox, though very popular, housemaster until retirement in 1968.
Driving a Rolls Royce impressed the boys, particularly his ability to put it into fourth gear at Lancing and drive all the way from the South Downs to Lincolnshire without once changing gear.
On leaving Lancing he spent seven years as chaplain at Summer Fields, his old prep school, until in 1975 school life was finally exchanged for that of a Lincolnshire squire in the family home, Marston Hall, to the north of Grantham which his father had taken over from his cousin, the 14th baronet, head of the Thorolds in the 1920s.
In Thorold’s lifetime both house and garden were often opened to the public in aid of the Lincolnshire Historic Churches Trust, of which he was a leading light and chairman for almost 50 years.
He was also involved with the Historic Churches Preservation Trust and the Fabric Committee of Southwell Minster where he often attended matins or evensong, driving the 1951 Bentley that had replaced the Rolls.
Very well known in the county he conducted services throughout Lincolnshire in the grand manner, always using the 1662 prayerbook.
An authoritative and elegant writer and, like his friend John Betjeman, a lover of the picturesque in landscape and the eccentric in architecture, he produced five of the best Shell Guides: Lincolnshire, Durham, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and the prize-winning Nottinghamshire, as well as a survey of the ecclesiastical architecture of his native county, Lincolnshire Churches Revisited, and, shortly before his death he published a study of Lincolnshire Houses.