Reverend Benjamin Legge Symonds

The Reverend Symonds standing outside Haversham Rectory holding a sackbut.

Perhaps the most unusual relic of the 17th century is an instrument which was dug up in the churchyard in 1857. What its history is, or why it was buried out of sight, no one can say. Sheahan, in his History of Buckinghamshire of 1862, says that it is a sackbut, and that it was formerly used in the services of the Church, suggesting the use of the “sackbut, psaltery and all kinds of music” in the days when the village choir requisitioned every possible aid to the making of a joyful noise.

It is now thought that it would be more accurate to describe it as a singer’s trumpet, or vamping trumpet. It was used in the singers’ gallery, where the chantry chapel had previously been, so that it might augment the voices of the singers. The large end of the trumpet would be rested on the front of the gallery, while the other was held in the hand, and the bass of the tune hummed through it. The effect of singing or humming in this way was to give a depth and power to the voice.

Perhaps at one time these instruments were fairly common in the Midland counties, though very few of them are know to have survived; not more than five or six.

The one at Haversham is constructed of sheet iron, and is in two pieces, measuring 4 feet 4½ inches in length, though it must have been a little longer as the mouth piece is missing. The bell-mouth is 15 inches in diameter.

Northampton Mercury 16 August 1929


The Rev. B. L. Symonds, Rector of Haversham for 40 years, concluded his active ministry on Sunday evening, when he conducted evensong at the Parish Church. A large congregation attended.
Mr. Symonds spoke feelingly of his regret in leaving Haversham, and said he was indebted to everyone for the kindness and help they had all extended to him and his wife. He would look forward to the occasions when he would re-visit the parish to take temporary duty. The closing hymn was “God be with you till we meet again."
A communion service followed, at which the Rector was the celebrant. The communicants numbered 40. The service concluded with the hymn. “At even ere the sun was set," used at the Rector’s own request, as it was appropriate that his ministry in the parish should conclude with the hymn sung at his induction service there 40 years ago.
The congregation adjourned to the schoolroom, where a presentation took place. The building was crowded. Col. E. F. Pickwoad, C.M.G., the Lord of the Manor, presided. A bouquet of roses was presented to Mrs. Symonds by Miss M. Warner, and addresses were given the Chairman, Mr. J. Baugh, and Mr, F, Nicholls (the organist). Col. Pickwoad presented to the Rector a cheque for £15, which had been subscribed by residents end former residents of the village. Accompanying the cheque was an illuminated album containing the names of the 114 subscribers.
The Rector, returning thanks, said that and Mrs. Symonds were deeply moved to see so many present. He assured them they would find an open door for anyone who liked to call upon them at Castlethorpe, where he and his wife would spend their retirement. Thanks to the Chairman were expressed Messrs. T. Hollis and W. Cave. The arrangements for the presentation were made by a committee, consisting of Mesdames Hollis, W. Cave, T. Frost, and Backlog (hon. secretary).

Northampton Mercury 13 November 1936


THE DEATH has occurred at Castlethorpe of the Rev. B. L. Symons, patron of the living of Haversham and rector for over 40 years. He obtained his B.A. degree in 1884 and M.A. 1888, and was ordained deacon in 1885 and priest in 1886. Four years ago he resigned his duties as rector on account of ill-health and advancing age, and went to live in retirement at Castlethorpe. The funeral has been fixed for to-day at Haversham.