Arthur Fraser Walter was the second son of John Walter III, and on the tragic early death of his brother John Walter IV on Christmas Eve 1870, he became next in line to inherit the Bearwood Estate, which he did in 1894.
On his own death, the 'Reading Mercury' of February 26th 1910 published a long Obituary that recorded the impact he made both locally and nationally:
DEATH OF MR. WALTER, OF BEARWOOD.
With very sincere regret we have to announce that Berkshire has lost yet another of its well known and representative men, who was also one of the largest land-owners. After but a few days’ illness, Mr. Arthur Fraser Walter expired on the evening of Tuesday last at his stately residence, Bear Wood, near Wokingham. The tidings of his death has called forth a deep feeling of sorrow as well as sympathy with his widow and family; and a keen sense of loss is felt throughout the county, and especially in his own neighbourhood.
Less than three weeks ago Mr. Walter was taken ill with an attack of influenza, but he apparently did not realise the gravity of the attack, and when feeling and looking far from well he was out shooting with friends. Whether he then took a chill, or thereby aggravated the attack, is not known; however, from some cause pneumonia supervened, followed by complications, and notwithstanding the best of nursing and the most careful medical treatment, his condition became very serious, and he fell into a comatose state, in which condition he remained for several days, until he passed peacefully away shortly after nine o’clock on Tuesday evening, at the age of 64.
Though Mr. Walter did not take any very prominent part in county affairs, beyond those which generally fall to the lot of a country gentleman and an owner of a large estate, yet the Walter family have for so many years been honourable and prominently connected with Berkshire that it was only natural that a keen sense of sorrow should be felt at the tidings of his unexpected death.
Mr. Arthur Fraser Walter was a County Magistrate for Berkshire, also a Deputy-Lieutenant of the County, High Steward of the town of Wokingham, and a member of the Berks County Council. He was also formerly Lieut.-Colonel and Hon. Colonel Commandant of the 1st Volunteer Battalion Royal Berks Regiment, in which he served for several years. He was also a member of the Berkshire Territorial Force Association from its commencement. In his younger days he took very great interest in the Volunteer Movement, and for many years regularly attended the Annual Camp of his battalion. The town of Wokingham is indebted to him for the splendid Drill Hall and Armoury, which he erected there when he commanded the Wokingham Company, with which his name will ever be associated. He also did all in his power to encourage a high standard of rifle shooting amongst his men by attending their practices and shooting with them.
Mr. Arthur Fraser Walter was the second and eldest surviving son of Mr. John Walter, of Bear Wood, for several years M.P. for Berkshire. He was born at Waterloo House, near Wokingham, on September 12th 1846. He was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1870 and M.A. in 1875. He took a first class in Classical Moderations, but was only placed in the Third Class in the Final Classical School, partly because he had no great inclination for the studies and subjects which gain distinction in that school and possibly because he was devoted to cricket.
Mr. Walter played for Eton against Harrow in 1864 and 1865. He also got his Blue for cricket at Oxford and in the 1869 match bowled effectively.
Mr. Walter married in 1872 Henrietta Maria, eldest daughter of the Rev. T. A. Anson, of Langford Rectory, Derbyshire. His widow and four children – two sons and two daughters – survive him. He is succeeded by his elder son John, who was born in 1873, and married in 1903 Charlotte Hilda, daughter of Colonel C. E. Foster, of Buckley Hall.
The Walter family have always been closely connected with The Times newspaper, which was founded by the first John Walter in 1785 as the Daily Universal Register and renamed The Times at the beginning of 1788. Mr. Arthur Walter, on the death of his father in 1894, became manager and chief proprietor of The Times. About two years ago a limited company was formed, and at the time of his death Mr. Walter was Chairman of The Times Publishing Company (Limited).
The Times of Wednesday last published a lengthy memoir of the deceased, and in giving a sketch of his life the writer says:-
As the second son, it was understood that Arthur Walter would adopt a definite profession. But the idea was abandoned when his elder brother, John Balston Walter, was drowned in the lake at Bear Wood on Christmas-eve, 1870, while attempting to rescue one of his brothers and a cousin, who had fallen through the ice. By the untimely death of his brother, young Arthur Walter became, while he was still an undergraduate at Oxford, the destined successor to his father in the management and chief proprietorship of The Times – a position which had always been held by the head of the family. Arthur Walter accordingly entered Lincoln’s In and was called to the Bar by that society in 1875, but he never practised. In fact, shortly after taking his degree he became associated with his father in the management of The Times, and in 1880 he was formally appointed joint manager. From that time forward, and indeed from an earlier date his whole life was given to The Times.
On the death of his father in 1894 he became in his turn manager and chief proprietor, and retained that position until two years ago, when he exchanged it for that of Chairman of The Times Publishing Company, Limited. That company was formed with a capital of £750,000, and Mr. Walter was chosen Chairman.
Mr. Arthur Walter’s life offers very little material for public record. His father was an eminent and respected Member of Parliament and his name was for that reason consistently before the public. Mr. Arthur Walter, on the contrary, rarely came before the public at all. To his neighbours in Berkshire he was a country gentleman whom private affairs frequently called to London. He was a Justice of the Peace, a Deputy-Lieutenant, High Steward of the town of Wokingham, and some years ago he became a director of the London and South-Western Railway. Mr. Walter took a great interest in landscape gardening on a large scale, and was often actively engaged in carrying out his ideas. He inherited a taste for bricks and mortar from his father, and set a very high standard of building for workmen’s cottages on his estate.
The writer of the memoir thus concludes:-
It was only to those who were associated with him that the real interest and work of Mr. Walter’s life was known. To his colleagues and subordinates he was known as a firm friend, a generous employer, a just man, a kindly gentleman. He held strong opinions, but he knew how to trust his colleagues, his heart was warm, his integrity was inflexible, and none ever appealed to his kindness in vain.
THE BEAR WOOD ESTATE.
Bear Wood is a fine and well-known Estate, about 2½ miles from Wokingham, and five from Reading. It was formerly an outlying part of Windsor Forest, and still retains some of its primitive wildness. Its name is supposed to have been derived from the Saxon word "bere", signifying a farmyard in a wood. It is noted for its fine rhododendron walks, its extensive flower and kitchen gardens, and its finely timbered pleasure rounds. Also for the magnificent Lake of some 40 acres in extent, containing several islands; there is also an upper lake covering about three acres.
The Mansion was rebuilt by the late Mr. John Walter between 1865 and 1869. It is a stately and imposing edifice of red brick, with Mansfield stone dressings, and contains a handsome suite of reception rooms and a spacious picture gallery; and some 90 bedrooms. Mr. Walter took great interest in improving the gardens and grounds – and also in the Estate generally.
The Sindlesham Schools were built by the late Mr. John Walter and enlarged in 1896; and are now capable of accommodating 250 children. The picturesque and substantially built houses on the road to Bear Wood Church were also erected by Mr. Walter.
In the passing of Mr. Arthur Walter we lose the representative of a great name in English journalism (remarks the Pall Mall Gazette). What the Walters have done to uphold the dignity and the influence of the Press is less known to the public than it is to journalists themselves, and by them it is freely recognised and acknowledged. For a century the Times has stood as the criterion of the English newspaper, and its imitators and competitors have never achieved quite the same position or influence. There could be, in fact, only one Times; this has been a tradition, and a proud one in the Walter family, and none held closer to it than the able and amiable English gentleman who has just passed away. We hope, for the sake of English journalism as a cult, that t he tradition will be continued by those who come after him in the exercise of authority at Printing House-square.
Speaking at the Daily Newspaper Proprietors’ dinner in London on Wednesday, Mr. E. H. Johnstone referred sympathetically to the death of Mr. Walter. The Times, he said, had probably done more to establish the reputation of the newspaper Press and profession than any other newspaper. He thought they might with great advantage send a message of sympathy to Mrs. Walter and members of the family, and he moved accordingly. Mr. A. R. Byles seconded the motion, which was carried in silence, all present standing. The Hon. Harry Lawson, M.P., replying to a toast later in the evening, also referred to the late Mr. Walter, and said the Walters had been the greatest dynasty in the realm of journalism. They could not find a finer type of English gentleman than Mr. Walter, in the best meaning of those words. He was worthy in every respect of those he succeeded, and, of course, he came into a great inheritance. The Walters had occupied the highest place it was possible in British journalism, and for a long time they were the presiding directors of The Times when it stood almost alone for the influence of the Press among British journals. It would be a long period before they found a man more straightforward and more honourable in his life than the late Mr. Arthur Walter.
The late Mr. A. F. Walter’s powers of judjment were good and sound. A crowning proof of this is the fact – that as he himself told the writer – (of "Office Window Notes" in the Daily Chronicle) – that both he and Mr. Buckle, editor of the "Times", were decidedly opposed to the publication of the Pigott letters, though they were overruled by Mr. John Walter and Mr. MacDonald, the then manager, both of whom may be said to have been killed by the results of their mistake of judgment. Mr. Arthur Walter on the same occasion added that the Parnell case, from first to last, had cost the "Times", in money alone, something like £150,000.
The funeral of Mr. Walter will take place at St. Catherine’s, Bear Wood, to-day (Saturday), at 2.30 p.m. For the convenience of those wishing to attend it a special train will leave Waterloo for Wokingham at 1 o’clock, returning at 3.45. Conveyance from Wokingham Station to the church and back will be provided.
The 'Reading Mercury' of March 5th carried several articles on Arthur Walter's funeral and of several tributes:
From Page 2:
THE LATE MR. WALTER OF BEAR WOOD.
THE FUNERAL AT BEAR WOOD.
With marked simplicity the ashes of the late ARTHUR FRASER WALTER, the Squire of Bear Wood, were laid to rest on Saturday afternoon in the beautiful God’s acre of St. Catherine’s, Bear Wood, a church erected opposite one of the gates of the Park and one of the many standing proofs of the public munificence and wise prescience of his revered father, the late Mr. John Walter.
The ceremony – the more impressive and dignified by its total freedom from "pomp and circumstance" – was attended by a notable concourse of personages in the front ranks of society and literature, as well as by very many county gentlemen and representatives of the working classes of the neighbourhood, all assembled to show their honour to the memory of one truly respected and greatly esteemed not only for the important position he filled in the public life of the country and county but for his personal qualities, and also to show their deep sympathy with the bereaved relatives.
Following on a fortnight of storm and gloom [the 'Mercury' had reported hurricanes in parts of Berkshire], the weather on Saturday afternoon was brilliantly fine, which was fortunate for the hundreds of sorrowing friends and dependents who stood reverently outside the church on account of its limited seating capacity. There were no signs of conventional mourning in the ordinary sense, but the Union Jack and the St. George’s Cross floated at half-mast from the mansion and the church respectively.
The remains of Mr. Walter had been cremated on the previous day at Woking, and subsequently the urn containing the ashes was placed on a stand covered with a piece of Eastern embroidery in the chancel of St. Catherine’s Church, where it was watched through the night by employés on the estate. In front of it was a cross of white flowers sent by General Sir Herbert Chermside, while at the foot of the pedestal, upon the floor of the chancel, lay an open book worked in flowers, the gift of The Times Companionship. This beautiful offering, the covers of which were worked in magnolia leaves, was composed of white stocks edged with Parma violets. Roses, lilies of the valley, heather, and orchids, all of pure white, were introduced into the open pages of the book, which were divided by a ribbon of mauve-coloured silk bearing, in letters of gold, two brief words: "At Rest". The members of the clerical and mechanical departments of The Times had subscribed for this striking emblem, which they offered as a token of respect.
A few other wreaths and floral tributes were sent by members of the family and intimate friends, but the number was not large, as an intimation had been given that no flowers were desired. These were placed along the Communion rail. On the Holy Table were vases of white flowers, and the font was also beautifully decorated, while on the other side of the chancel steps the head gardener (Mr. W. Barnes) had arranged a group of palms and white flower.
Miss Jeacock, the organist, softly played selections from Spohr’s "Last Judgment", and also Smart’s "Offertoire", and "I know that my Redeemer liveth", "But the Lord is mindful of His own", during the assembling of the congregation, and "O rest in the Lord" as the funeral urn was borne from the church.
The service was taken by the Rev. W. V. Vickers, the Rector of St. Catherine’s, Bear Wood, who read the opening prayers, the Rev. C. A. Whittuck (late Rector of St. Catherine’s and now Vicar of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford), who read the Lesson, and the Rev. Dr. Warre, Provost of Eton, who said the committal prayers. The urn was borne from the appointed moment placed in the grave by Mr. Barnes, the head gardener and forester on the estate. At the conclusion of the service Sergt. Hawkins, a "Times" commissionaire, sounded the "Last Post" on his bugle – an appropriate tribute to the memory of one whose uncle, Sir Edward Walter, founded the Corps, which is now commanded by Major Walter, and who was always greatly interested in its well-being.
The urn was deposited in a circular sunken bed, beautifully situated, and lined with moss, studded with lilies of the valley, white azaleas and aetus tulips, and bordered with white narcissi and purple burberis. [NOTE: The circular memorial is now in stone, as seen here:]
The mourners were:-
Mrs. Walter (the widow),
Colonel R. Walter (cousin, of Bournemouth), brought a wreath to place on the grave of his father, Sir Edward Walter, founder and first Commandant of the Corps of Commissionaires, the anniversary of whose death fell on Saturday.
Among those who sent wreaths or other floral emblems were Lady Wantage, Sir Julius and Lady Wernher, Mrs. Stephen Walter, the Rector of St. Catherine’s, Bear Wood, Mr. and Mrs. Hautenville Cope, Mr. William Simonds, the Rev. Walter H. E. Welby, Mrs. H. Reeves (Helen Mathers), Mr. and Mrs. S. B. Joel, Mr. Hugh Chisholm, Mr. Horace E. Hooper and the staff of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica", Sir George and Lady Faudel-Phillips, Mrs. W. Smith, and Mr. and Mrs. S. Sinauer de Stein.
Among those in the Church and at the graveside were:- the Lord Lieutenant of Berks (Mr. J. Herbert Benyon), the High Sheriff of Berks (Mr. W. Dockar Drysdale), Mr. Justice Bigham, Lord and Lady Pirrie, Lord George Pratt, Sir Donald C. Macnabb, Mr. J. W. Macnabb, Viscount Barrington, the Hon, Derek Keppel, Lord Faber, Lieut.-General Sir Henry MacKinnon, Lord Wenlock, Colonel Henry G. L. Crichton, Colonel Lonsdale A. Hale, Admiral the Hon. Sir e. R. Fremantle, Sir Anthony Cope, Bart., Mr. Pembroke S. Stephens (Treasurer Lincoln’s Inn), Mr. Rufus D. Isaacs, K.C., M.P., Mr. Henniker Heaton, M.P., Mr. C. F. Gill, K.C., Mrs. Bruce (Arborfield Court), Mr. St. John (West Court), Sir John Watson, V.C., Mr. Geo. A. Watson, Captain Grogan, M.P., Colonel C. E. Foster, Brig.-General Wilson (Staff College, Sandhurst), Sir Gilbert Clayton East, Bart., Mr. M. J. Sutton, General Sterling, Major St. John, D..S.O., Admiral Sir Cyprian Bridge, Mr. E. C. Austen Leigh (Eton), Miss Wedderburn, Colonel Godfrey Fawssett, Major Godfrey Fawssett, Mr. A. K. Loyd, K.C., Mr. John Simonds, Mr. T.A. Marshall, Mr. S. A. Hankey, Colonel F. F. Mackenzie, Colonel Bridge, Mr. Humphry Ward, Captain Stuart Rickman, R.N., mr. Philip Wroughton, Mr. Vere Allfrey, Mr. J. W. Rhodes, Mr. H. F. Nicholl, Mr. E. M. Sturges, Major Bulkeley, D.S.O., Mr. Barry, Mr. T. Ellison, the Rev. H. Salwey, Mr. St. George Littledale, Mr. V. S. Clair Mackenzie, Mr. Adolphus Liddell, C.V., Mr. S. S. Melville, Mr. Bishop Vaisey, Mr. Farrer, Mr. Hugh Chisholm, Mr. Cornwallis H. Smith, Colonel A. Jones, V.C., M.I.C.E., the Rev. R. Tomlinson, the Rev. P. H. Ditchfield, Captain J. St. L. Wheble, Major Tristram Wheble, Captain J. F. Coston, Sir Fredk. Heygate, Mr. A. J. Mackey, Mr. H. B. Blandy, Major Arthur F. Poulton (Chief Constable of Berks), Mr. and Mrs. Edward Godsall, the Rev. B. Long, the Rev. L. S. and Miss Wright, Commander Robinson, R.N., the Rev. E. Broome, the Rev. H. M. West, Mr. W. Howard Palme, Colonel O. P. Serocold (commanding), Colonel A. F. Ewen, and Major J. H. Cooper (representing the 4th Batt. Royal Berkshire Regiment), Mrs. George Warre, Mr. Braunstein, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Grove, Dr. W. Knowsley Sibley, Mr. R. Brinsley-Richards (Board of Trade), General Stirling, Colonel Lonsdale Hale, Colonel Repington, Mr. Alfred Gilbey, Mr. O’Brien, Captain Tyler (Staff College), Mr. J. H. T. Roupell, Mr. Lloyd Evans, Mr. Lionel james, Mr. J. Thursfield, the Rev. G. H. Pearse, the Rev. J. A. Anderson, Mr. Wiggett, Mr. Flanagan, Mr. Carmichael Thomas (Chairman of the "Graphic", representing the Newspaper Society), Mr. J. C. Soames, Mr. J. Bune, Major Harris (Army Remount Depôt), Mr. C. J. Hegan, Mr. Arthur Pollen, Mr. J. Holden, Mr. Charles B. Wilson, Mr. J. H. Walters, Mr. Walter Finch, Mr. Peter Finch, Dr. Hetherington, Mr. Hugh Drummond, Mr. C. E. Salmon (agent to the Bear Wood estate), Mr. Dean (estate clerk), Messrs. J. T. A. Howkins, F. W. Albury, A. Callas, J. E. Allnatt, F. R. Hall (Oxford), H. Powell, junr. (Wokingham), Lush, T. Neve, C. Bowyer, H. F. Simmons, Ford, Pither, Allright, Blake, Brooks, Allen (representing the Barkham C.C. of which deceased was President), Luker (4 years at the Times office), Geo. Luffman, Messrs. C. Gowing, W. Holland, C. Gibbs, S. Drake, R. Ratcliffe, G. Drake (Finchampstead), &c.
A special train conveyed some 200 mourners from and back to London by the South-Western Railway, of which Mr. Walter was a director. The members of the staff of The Times included the Editor, the Managing Director, the assistant editors, the leader writers, representatives of the Imperial and Foreign department, the news editors, the sub-editors, the Paris Correspondent, the Art Critic, the Military Correspondent, the head of the Parliamentary Staff, the reporters, the chief of the mechanical department, the night printer, the day printer, the head reader, the Press overseer, the foundry overseer, the engineer, the foreman and representatives of the advertisement, cashier’s, contributors’, and publishing departments, and the messengers. The number of employés of the mechanical department attending was about 150.
The chairman and directors of the London and South-Western Railway Company travelled by the same train, including Sir Chas. Scotter (chairman), Mr. Hugh Drummond (deputy-chairman), Sir Wm. Portal, Mr. W. Grant, and Colonel the Hon. H. G. L. Crichton, with them being Mr. Godfrey Knight (secretary), and Mr. D. Drummond (locomotive superintendent).
The Corporation of Wokingham (of which Borough the deceased was High Steward), attended in a body, the mace and other emblems of office being draped in crape. The members able to be present were Ald. D. N. Heron (Mayor), Aldermen T. M. Wescott, G. T. Phillips, and J. Seaward; Councillors H. C. Mylne (Deputy Mayor), E. C. Hughes, T. E. Ellison, P. Sale, J. J. Evans, A. T. Heelas, T. Dowsett, J. Headington, and M. Blake, with the Town Clerk (Mr. J. May), the Borough Surveyor (Mr. E. J. King), the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. L. C. Ducrocq), the Medical Officer of Health (Dr. A. Ashby), the Borough Auditor (Mr. J. H. Byard), the Sergeant-at-Mace (Mr. W. Chambers), the four Honorary Constables (Messrs. G. Butler, J. Bosher, W. Higgs, and E. W. Hawkins), and the Town Crier (Mr. J. Taylor).
The members of the Wokingham Fire Brigade, under their captain, the Marquis of Downshire, were present in uniform.
A large number of messages of condolence were received, among them being one from the King of Spain. Messages of sympathy were also sent by Prince and Princess Christian, the Chilian Minister, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Northcliffe, Lord Faber, Mr. John Burns, M.P., the Mayor and Corporation of Wokingham, Lady Wantage, the proprietors and editors of the Tokio Asahi, and Mr. Kennedy Jones, together with innumerable others from friends and acquaintances all over the world.
Letters of sympathy with The Times in the loss occasioned by the death of Mr. Walter have been received from among others, the Duke of Abercorn, Sir George Birdwood, and Mr. Alfred de Rothschild.
Several members of the Berkshire Constabulary, under Supt. Charles Goddard, of Wokingham, were on duty.
The Rector of Bear Wood (the Rev. W. V. Vickers) preached on Sunday morning to a large congregation. Taking as his text the words: "David, after he had served his own generation, fell on Sleep", he showed how the ideal life is to serve one’ generation, either as in the case of the great ones of earth, in public; or, in the case of all, in private. Mr. Walter might be said to have done both.
For 16 years he was responsible for the conduct of the premier Newspaper of the world, guiding public opinion in the soundest paths, in support of Church and State – yet entirely effacing his own personality. "But we, in Bear Wood (the preacher went on to say), had to do with his private life. Naturally reserved as he was, we had, if we wanted to see him, as a rule, to go to him. But then, the very grip of his hand, told us in a moment of the welcome that was ours, and of the warmth of his heart. If we went merely for the pleasure of a general chat, we came away feeling the better for it. If we went in some difficulty, seeking advice, we came away feeling instinctively, that we had had the very best, leaving us in no doubt as to how we ought to act. He was thoroughly downright, sacrificing not one iota of duty for the sake of popularity. And yet, of his popularity, amongst all sorts and conditions of men, we had the very amplest proof, in the crowds who attended his funeral yesterday.
"Of all the many testimonies which have appeared of his sterling worth, it is worthy of notice that the highest and truest to life come from those who have been most closely associated with him either as colleagues or subordinates". After quoting two of these, the Rector concluded: "And now that life on earth is closed! Owing to the high position which Mr. Walter held in the country as a public man, and in the country as owner of many broad acres, his life was, necessarily, loaded at times with the cares and anxieties, inseparable from positions of responsibility. And yet his love of games, and his youthful – he might say boyish – spirits helped him marvellously to throw them off. A keen lover of animals, the antics of his favourite dog were sufficient to draw from him, at any moment, a hearty laugh. Thus in the stern business of life, in its relaxations, and last, but not least, in the observance of religious duties, Arthur Fraser Walter has left us a worthy example, and now he "has fallen on sleep". It is remarkable how often the Bible speaks of death as "sleep". As he lay there, in the wonderful beauty of that peaceful sleep, the thought was forced upon one, how, (as we sing in one of our Psalms to-day) "God giveth His beloved sleep". Yes! That sleep is God’s gift – His last gift to him – His last gift to us.
At the opening of the Reading County Divisional Court on Saturday Captain Cobham, the Chairman, referred to the decease of Major Thoyts; and proceeded to say that the County had also to regret the loss by death of another prominent Magistrate, who had been a member of the Magistracy of the County during the greater part of his valuable life, and who had died at a comparatively early age.
Mr. Arthur Walter was a member of the neighbouring Bench of the Wokingham Division, and he devoted all the time he could spare from his many very important pre-occupations to the business of the County. He was a member of and a regular attendant at the meetings of the County Council, and was always ready to take his part in anything for the benefit of the County at large. He was sure they would wish to convey their condolences and sympathy to Mrs. Walter and the other members of the family. The resolution was carried sub silensio.
From Page 4, the Rev. Peter Ditchfield, Rector of Barkham, gave the sermon at his church:
THE LATE MR. WALTER.
Much regret has been felt in the village on account of the death of Mr. Walter, the squire of the parish. On Sunday a muffled peal was rung both at the morning and evening services. The hymns "Brief life is here our portion" and "The Sower went forth sowing" were sung, and at the close of each service the "Dead March" in "Saul" was played by the organist, Mr. Stanley Perkins, the congregation standing.
In the morning the Rector preached and dwelt upon the great loss which the village had sustained, and asked for the prayers of the congregation for the widow and children of the late squire.
The Rector said – It is my duty to say a word to you this morning with regard to the loss we have sustained by the passing away of the squire of this parish. We have at the request of his family been praying for him during the last two weeks, and the knowledge that your prayers have been ascending to God for him has been a great comfort to them during these sad days. God has called him to rest from the many anxieties that pressed hardly on him during his earthly life; to-day we pray for those whom he has left behind – they need our prayers still, that God will comfort them in their sadness, their loneliness, and bereavement. Death that knocks equally at the door of palace and cottage has removed from them one they dearly loved. We will think and pray for them to-day, and ask God to comfort their desolate hearts.
The Rector continued – Mr. Walker, the Squire of this parish, comes of a family that has done great service for this country. They founded and conducted the greatest Newspaper in the world, which has become a national institution, a Paper remarkable for its fearlessness and the free expression of unbiased political opinions. But we are concerned more with the private life, rather than the public services of the family.
Less than 100 years ago (1830) the second Mr. John Walter bought from the Crown some land at Bear Wood, and built for himself a house. The prosperity of the family increased; Mr. John Walter 3rd built the mansion we know so well. In 1874 he bought this Barkham estate, and became its Squire. All over this district we see buildings erected by him; churches, schools, rectories, farms, cottages. The chancel of this church, the rectory, were built by him and everyone recognised him as a great benefactor, a man with a large heart and wide sympathies, who took a keen personal interest in the welfare of the parishes on his estate, performing many acts of pure and personal kindness which have long endeared his memory.
And he, who has just passed away, mourned by so many yesterday in Bear Wood Churchyard, tried to follow in his father’s footsteps. You will have read the tributes paid to his memory by many writers, his colleagues in the Press, his friends, but he shone most, I think, in his home life, when outside worries could for a time be shut out, and surrounded by the affection of his family he was at peace. May he rest in peace now, life’s trouble o’er:-
Now upon the further shore
The soul is independent of these our bodies wherein for a time it dwells. It matters not whet happens to our body, whether it be slain in battle, lost at sea, reduced at once to the dust and ashes whence it came, or laid quietly in the grave, as our usual custom is to bury. The soul is independent of such accidents, and the teaching of science blends with the belief of our holy faith.
We believe in the Communion of Saints, and this a great scientist defines as "a fellowship of all the beings who help and love each other, some of them known to us, others at present unknown. Some of these are on the earth, others are not, but friendship and faculty will survive bodily death, and affection bridge the chasm. Death is a natural step of transition from a more to a less material stage of existence, and should be neither hastened nor feared. It can result in actual enlargement of memory and personal consciouances" [sic]. We are glad to have that testimony from one of the world’s greatest thinkers.
What kind of memorial would you like to leave behind you, when the few years of this fitful life are ended? Everyone can leave behind a record of good works, of duty faithfully performed, of work conscientiously done. Sometimes we grow weary in well-doing. We lose heart, cease to try, and give up. And so we need refreshing. God gives us His Grace in order to refresh us, to infuse new strength into our souls. We come to Holy Communion; we receive that Grace, and then start afresh, boldly onward, and try again to do our duty more perfectly . . . .
What can we do for our Lord, Who has done all for us? We can show a consistent witness for Jesus. We can try to break up all false notions and traditions. Remember you have a field for work, for service, in your home, your work, in the wider field of His Church. Lay your life down before the altar, and say "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? Teach me to do Thy will, to spread the knowledge of Thee, to show my love for Thee?" And then be not weary. We are so tired sometimes, when things do not turn out well, and we are discouraged, and people are stupid and foolish, and quarrelsome and tiresome. Never mind; God knows that quite as well as you do.
Do not let us give up. Some young Oxford men were spending a summer vacation in a reading party in the country, and they resolved to have a race across country. One man was left far behind, and long after the others had come in, and they had forgotten all about the race, an ungainly poor runner was seen plodding along and running as hard as he could. That man is now a Bishop, one of the foremost leaders of the Church, a leader in judgment and power, a leader amongst leaders. He has gone on plodding away, and that has led him to what he is to-day. So do not let us give up. "Be not weary in well-doing, for in due time we shall reap if we faint not".
In the evening the sermon was preached by the Rev. E. Lyddekker, curate of All Saints’, Wokingham.
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