|Wellingborough News, 18th March 1882, transcribed by Kay Collins
THE LATE REV. DR. GEO. MANSFIELDThe funeral of the late rector of Stanwick took place on Saturday last, when the remains of the deceased gentleman were interred in the churchyard, at the western foot of the tower. Large numbers of people from Raunds, as well as the parishioners of Stanwick, were present. As the bell began its solemn toll the shutters of the various inns and tradesmen's shops were closed throughout the village in token of respect. The funeral party, comprising the family of the deceased, Rev. Hugh McNeile Mansfield, vicar of Bourne, Lincolnshire, Mr. and Mrs. Forrester, Colonel and Mrs. de Salis, and Mr. and Mrs. Young, left the Rectory shortly after one o'clock. The coffin, which was of polished oak, with the ordinary mountings, was borne on the shoulders of six men, covered by a pall. The bearers of the pall were Mr. Spencer Pratt, J.P., Mr. English, Birmingham, Mr. Locock, Beckenham, and Mr. Willson, Oundle. Several of the neighbouring clergy, with the farmers and tradesmen of the village, met in the rectory grounds, and filed into two columns to allow the mourners with the mortal remains of the Rector to pass through; they then closed in and formed a funeral procession. The clergy present were Rev. Canon Barker, rector of Rushden, Rev. E. Templeman, vicar of Higham Ferrers, Rev. T. Grabham, rector of Irthlingborough, Rev. E. A. Sandford, vicar of Denford, Rev. Mr. Smith, Yeldon, and Rev. Mr. Watson; the Rev. Isaac Near, Baptist minister, of Ringstead, and Rev. B. Holland, Baptist minister, of Stanwick, were also present in the procession, as was also the solicitor, Mr. W. H. Simpson, of Higham Ferrers. The coffin was preceded by Rev. C. J. R. Cooke, vicar of St. John’s, Brixton, and Rev. W. M. Mungeam, of St. Peter's, Southwark. The procession proceeded to the church by the southern entrance to the churchyard, where it was met by a procession of Church Sunday School children with wreaths and bunches of flowers, under the superintendence of Mr. Mattinson and Miss Brown, the schoolmaster and mistress, and Mr. J. R. Brown, of Irthlingborough, who walked in front. On entering the church the organ pealed forth the anthem by Handel, "I know that my Redeemer liveth." The funeral service was performed by Rev. C. J. R. Cooke, assisted by Rev. W. M. Mungeam, and was a very impressive one, and many tears were shed as the hymn "When our heads are bowed with woe," was sung by the choir and crowded congregation. As the procession left the church, the organ struck up the "Dead March" in Saul. On reaching the grave the coffin, with all that was mortal of a dear parent, pastor, and friend was lowered to its last resting-place, amid the tears and suppressed sobbings of the mourners and by-standers. At the conclusion of the service the Sunday school children sang very sweetly, though plaintively, the well-known hymn, "Safe in the arms of Jesus," as the mourners stood around the grave. After the funeral procession had left, the parishioners took a last fond look into the grave, which was literally strewn with flowers, the coffin being wholly covered with the most splendid wreaths of flowers, which had been contributed by the teachers and scholars of the Sunday school, the parishioners and distant friends. On Sunday two funeral services were held in the church, the pulpit, lectern, and reading-desk being draped in black. In the morning the service was conducted and sermon preached by Rev. C. J. R. Cooke, vicar of St. John's, Brixton. The preacher took for his text Zechariah i, 5. In the course of his sermon, the preacher said he felt greatly the solemnity and difficulty of the position that he occupied on that occasion. He was personally unknown to them as a flock, and had had only the privilege of a slight acquaintance with their deceased pastor, whose loss they mourned, yet he was linked to him by a peculiar ministerial and sacred tie, which had led to his being asked to perform for him, and those so dearly united with him, the last sad rites of affection, and to occupy the place that he had for nine years occupied amongst them. The large and important parish that their deceased pastor left nine years ago was now committed to his charge, many of those now dear to him by sacred pastoral ties were also dear to their deceased pastor; and he came, as he was requested by many to do, to bear with him an expression of their love for him who was gone, and sympathy for the family and parish in their bereavement. Their beloved pastor had gone to an honoured grave in peace, dying in a full age, like a shock of corn in its season. He had passed the three score and ten years allotted to man, and had been spared to see his children come to maturity, and long to preach an apostolic gospel, and bear testimony to evangelical truth. He urged them to be much in prayer that a faithful successor might come amongst them, and that the mantle of him who had gone might fall on him that followed in the ministry. There was a large congregation. At the evening service the church was crowded, many being unable to obtain seats or to get inside the doors, the Baptist and Wesleyan Chapels being closed as a tribute of esteem and affection for the deceased rector Rev. C. J. R. Cooke read the prayers, and a sermon was preached by the Rev. Canon Barker, of Rushden, who founded his discourse on the 17th verse of the 38th chapter of Job"Have the gates of death been opened unto thee." In applying this question to his congregation, and the parishioners especially, he thought the present was an occasion when it came with special force, when one whom they knew, and who was endeared to all as their pastor, had passed almost suddenly away. He had finished the work that God had given him to do. Yet though he was dead he would still continue to speak to them. The lessons from his grave were that they should be sober, and vigilant, and whatever their hands found to do to do it with all their might. He asked them to redeem the time, to work while it was called day, for there was no work or wisdom in the grave. Soon other voices would be heard in that church, and the green grass would grow over the grave of him they loved. He asked them to lay it to heart. Christ lived; Christ was near; life was short; life was solemn. Let each life, then, have a purpose, and let that purpose, be Christ, in whom was their eternal life.