Rev Cheales and his family

Alan Benjamin CHEALES, perpetual curate of Brockham 1859-68, was born in 1828.

He went to Christ's College, Cambridge, BA 1850, Travelling Bachelor 1850-53, MA 1853; deacon by the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol 1853.

He was curate of Lechlade 1853-59, perpetual curate of Brockham 1859-68 (pop'n 923), and simultaneously curate of Shiplake, Oxford, 1861-65, and of Wargrave, Berkshire, 1865-70.

He became the first vicar of Brockham 1868-1892, and was chaplain to Lord Dynevor 1870-78.

He retired in 1892 to Reading, writing (Lord) Saye and Sele, from Conquest to Commonwealth; Proverbial Folklore, Reading Abbey,. The Martyr of Reading; Winceby Fight.

He died in 1910.

(Reproduced with the kind permission of Tony Hines)

In the spring of 1859 Alan Benjamin Cheales became the third perpetual curate of Christ Church Brockham Green. He became the first Vicar of Brockham Parish in 1868, retired in 1892 and died in Reading in 1910.

He and his wife Fanny were to become an integral part of BrockhamVillage, blessed with two daughters and two sons. This is the story of their daughters, Sophia and Edith Cheales.

Sophia Mary Francis Cheales was born in Wargrave, Berks, onthe 4th July 1858. Her father was curate of Lechdale until the appointment in Brockham in the spring of 1859.

Edith Bellingham Cheales was born at Brockham Vicarage onthe 11th October 1859. There the twenty-two summers of her short and almost unclouded life were passed. Before the winter set in of the year 1881, she was safely garnered into the "paradise of God" (1).

Sophia, although not born in Brockham, it was the home of her life from infancy to the grave; excepting for that short lived period when, her wedding tour over, she entered upon what proved to be the only, and, from a human point of view, the too brief sojourn of her married life. (2).

To her parents Edith was an affectionate child; to her only sister, an ever-made friend and companion; to her brothers she was a most devoted sister, each being in turn the object of her love and care, which was especially returned by the one nearest in age to herself, with whom their was a twinship of heart and life up to the last hour.

Her mother wrote of an "essentially a home-life, it was happily uneventful life, spent in her native village (Brockham) with those she was brought up; - she dwelt "among her own people". It was a quiet life, but it was busy with employments of various kinds, and this rendered it a joyous life of service to the Master. For her the world had no attractions, nor ever held place in her heart".

"She was a child among children, she was never happier than when amusing them and giving herself up to their pleasure. The children ofBrockhamSchoolwill not soon forget the many little acts of kindness to them; the rocking horse, the swing, the walks in the vicarage garden, visits to the gooseberry bushes during the fruit season"

"Her indifference to dress and appearance was somewhat striking and unusual. She was careless of it even to a fault. On looking back it seems as if this had been over-ruled, that she might, through insensibly, sit more loosely to the things of earth and be less tempted by its attractions, "For the fashion of this world passeth away". Her thoughts were centred on her village and home".

"Many probably saw her in chiefly the bright healthful girl with untiring spirits, a continual flow of merriment and ready fun, and an ardent attachment to her family circle".

In early September 1881 she visited Paris with Sophia and some other relatives but was anxious to hurry back to Brockham so she did not miss another Sunday School. She arrived home on 21st September. It was her brother Carnegie's birthday on 29th September, "how very bright she looked on that birthday evening is well remembered".

"She had seldom other than a joyous countenance, but there was a clearness and a lustre about her eyes and complexion that was noticeable. It was to be the last happy gathering in which she took a loving part".

She was in her usual in the Sunday School in Sunday 9th October but complained of feeling tired in the afternoon, and did not go for her usual walk after the second service. "The illness might possibly be traceable to a chill in the first instance, but so rapid was it in its development, and so quickly did it run its course that it was only two days before her departure she was made aware that the garment of the flesh would soon be exchanged for the clothing of 'white raiment' promised to 'him that overcometh' and then, although greatly taken by surprise, having been entirely free from pain or suffering of any kind, she gave herself up to the keeping of Him."

Her body rests in a calm sweet spot not far from her birthplace. Her soul is with Jesus. Her spirit is still near those she loved. On a quiet autumn day,15th November 1881, a simple walking funeral was seen upon the green, over the same Village Green, and crossing the same fields where she had tripped along so gaily but six weeks before, apparently the picture of health. She was carried to the grave in Betchworth Church-yard, "God's Acre", by twelve men chosen from those who had known her best and longest - some from earliest childhood, and whose children she had in womanhood taught; servants, former servants and members of the bible class. All was done as she would have wished. One who had known her all her life, and for whom she entertained the warmest regard, assisted the Vicar in reading our beautiful burial service. Few among her village friends who did not stand around her grave to mourn a loss which would not easily be replaced. The school children she loved so well sang her favourite hymn, "O think of the Home over there", at the open grave which was filled with tokens of love and sympathy from those who knew and loved her, and from kind friends at a distance who desired to sow sympathy with her bereaved relatives.

And her favourite text is that which inscribes the marble telling of her birth, her death, her parish, and her Everlasting Joy.

"With Christ........Far Better" Phil.1. 23.

"My Beloved has gone down into His garden to gather lilies. I am my beloved's and my Beloved is mine". Song of Solomon vi. 2, 3

The Cheales Family

From the Birth of a Parish

by Katie Dodson

The children and wife of Alan Benjamin Cheales, (known affectionately as ABC) all played a very important role in the shaping of Brockham in the latter half of the 19th Century.

The Vicars wife, Fanny Cheales was organist for 14 years and upon her retirement an appeal was launched for money to pay her successor. Several Parishioners undertook to provide annual sums.

At one of the Night Schools, held in the Brockham Coffee Rooms, also the venue for the Brockham Book Club, now the front room on the right hand side of North View, two of the teachers were Carnegie and Edith Cheales, son and younger daughter of the vicar.

The children of the Vicarage were as much involved in the life of the village as their parents. The girls taught needlework and singing in the school and they both had Sunday School classes.

They were district Visitors with responsibility for their own section of the Parish. Miss Cheales held a weekly Young Women's Bible Class in the school and Band of Hope meetings alternated with Missionary Working Classes in the Mission Room on Friday evenings.

With their mother, Edith and Sophia held prayer meetings during the dinner hour for workmen in the Brickyards and up in the Chalk Pits.


Sophia Mary Francis Cheales

Born 4th July 1858

Beloved wife of Percy Arthur Everest Wood

Slept in Jesus, 6th March 1885, age 26 years


The inscription on her headstone reads

"With Christ which is far Better"

For ever with the Lord, I shall be satisfied,

when awake with thy likeness









Edith Bellingham Cheales

Born at Brockham Vicarage,11th October 1859

Slept in Jesus,9th November 1881, age 22 years


The inscription on her headstone reads

"With Christ, Far Better"

My beloved is gone down into his garden to

gather lilies. I am my beloved's and my

beloved is mine