The Rector of Caistor during the First and Second World Wars was the Reverend John Corbould-Warren (d. 1944). He was the “Squarson” –the  squire and a substantial landowner of Caistor, and the living was in his gift; he gave it to himself. Not every living was in the gift of a local worthy; many belonged to Oxford or Cambridge colleges, but not Caistor. He had become parson in 1914, when the livings was still in the gift of  an individual or organisation; this is no longer the case.

The founder of the fortunes of this family was John Corbould  (died 1801), an extremely rich businessman, a native of Brooke in Norfolk. His shop was in Dove Lane, Norwich, and he bought a country estate at Bracon Ash. He retired in about 1789 to live in his town house at 65, St Giles in Norwich, when not at his country home.  He had made his money as a hatter. His son, another John, became curate of Weston Longville in 1795, where he served under the diarist James Woodforde. He married Elizabeth Warren, laying the basis for the double barrelled Corbould-Warren family. The “Squarson”  remembered by my sister (when my family was living in a railway carriage in Markshall to escape the bombs in Norwich) was the great great grandson of the rich hatter.

In the 1950s an elderly (or so he seemed to me as a child) bachelor Canon Thomas Backhouse was the Rector of Caistor (1945- 70).  He lived in the Old Rectory, the large Georgian building on the road towards Norwich. He must have been lost in such a building, with no family to use the spare rooms. In earlier centuries there would have been servants to occupy the space, but this was post-war England, and domestic servants were very scarce. I don’t suppose he could have afforded servants on a grand scale; he did however have a housekeeper called Winifred. He  had an elegant car, a pale blue Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire which he used for his pastoral visiting.

My sister Christine, who has lived in Canada since 1959, and retired around 2008 as Professor of Rhetoric at Calgary University, was one of the congregation at Caistor during her university vacations in the late 50s. This meant that we received visits from the Rector of Caistor, although we lived just across the parish boundary into Poringland. On one memorable occasion I remember Canon Backhouse’s Armstrong Siddeley drawing up in our drive and the parson getting out. As he was ushered into the living room for a cup of tea our tortoise, which I was carrying at the time, decided to urinate all over me. I had to sit moistly indoors until our visitor had gone, when I was able to change my clothes. Nowadays we would say what had happened, but in the 1950s one was much more inhibited.

Parson Woodforde

Armstrong Siddeley cars

Professor Christine Mason Sutherland




One response

  1. Bruce and Linda Breaden | Reply

    I remember Canon Backhouse with affection….I believe that one of my aunts worked for him.
    Canon Backhouse I remember would come to Luton where I lived . He would arrive in his big car and pick my father, me and my sister Nina up and then drive us to Caister St Edmunds. Some of this is a bit sketchy, I do have a picture somewhere of dad posing along side Canon Backhouses car.
    My sister and I would stay in his house, I think it was so as we could see my aunt.
    I remember being in his big room and this was where his collections were and he kindly gave me a fishing rod which I later realised was an antique.
    Opposite the house across the drive was a pasture where my sister and I would pick mushrooms and on one occasion we ran for our life when a bull charged us and we leapt over the fence, we believed that it was a bull at the time.
    We now live in Norwich …..


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