Local History Society

 Families: Harry Vincent

Deaths in Wartime

Plans to modernise St. Bartholomew's Church,  Arborfield, 1935 onwards

Vincents of Arborfield were the local wheelwrights and makers of wagons and carts in the 19th Century, but moved to Reading to make their fortune with the coming of the motor car (the 'Reading Forum' web-site carried a lot of reminiscences about the company).

Vincent's advertisement in 'Reading Mercury' from August 10th 1940

Vincent's Horse Box from 1937


(above) Vincent's advertisement from August 1940.

(left) Vincent's Horse Box from 1937

(photos copyright 'Reading Mercury'; used by permission)



However, the family maintained strong links with Arborfield, as the following news articles about Harry Vincent from the 'Reading Mercury' make clear. Harry Ernest Reed Vincent was baptised at Arborfield on September 29th 1878, the son of William and Sarah Jane Vincent. In the 1901 Census, Harry was described as a 'Coachbuilder's Assistant' at the business in Arborfield Cross.

Note the description of the village and its church in the article on the Memorial Service.

From January 11th 1941:

‘Mr. Harry Vincent, head of the well-known Reading business, who died on Saturday’Photo caption: ‘Mr. Harry Vincent, head of the well-known Reading business, who died on Saturday’.

Two-column article on Mr. Vincent’s death, mentioning the family’s links with Arborfield before moving to Reading. It stated ‘The funeral took place privately at Arborfield Parish Church on Tuesday, with which the Vincent family have long and close association.’

From January 18th:

Memorial Service for Mr. Harry Vincent

[The service was taken by Canon Anderson on Sunday morning, January 12th. More than 100 employees plus members of the Vincent family were present. This article explained that the employees could not attend the funeral – the previous Tuesday – because of war work].

Prior to the service, two employees whose joint years of service in the employ of Vincents of Reading totalled 79 years, laid a wreath upon the grave, and in silence, with evident grief, all the employees slowly and reverently filed past the grave on their way to the church.


At the conclusion of the service, the organist played ‘The Holy City’ while the whole congregation remained standing. Never has this music been heard to better effect, although for more than 50 years it has been sung, played and heard by millions in all parts of the world. Whether it was by request, or the organist’s choice, the writer knows not, but as the strains of this age-long music floated up, filling the whole church with solemnity and grandeur, in a setting in the heart of the country, where stillness and quiet reigned The inside of St. Bartholomew's, Arborfield as it was in 1942supreme, and where the noise and turbulence of the outside world was forgotten; where the promise of spring – jasmine in full bloom – was to be seen; where modern electricity was lacking, and paraffin lamps hung from the old oak beams; where week by week the yeomen of England find joy in simple worship; where freedom abounds and unspoilt is the landscape, the triumphant climax of ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem lift up your voice and sing’, brought to a close a memorial service which all who attended will long remember.

Mr. J. H. Simonds read the lessons, and amongst those present were Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Vincent, Miss Z. Vincent, Miss M. Vincent, Miss Hickmott, and a large number of Arborfield and district residents.

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