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From the notes of Joseph Enos Smith (c1916 + c1927) – extract from Rushden Argus 27th October 1911, and other newsclips
Charles Drawbridge

Charles Drawbridge was born in the borough of Southwark on June 15th 1805, three months before the Battle of Trafalgar. He was educated at the school of St Mary Overys and was apprenticed to a grocer. At an early age he commenced preaching around London, his first sermon being delivered in Waterloo-road in 1823.

During his itinerary he visited Raunds and from there was invited to preach for the Baptists at the “Top” Meeting. Afterwards he was invited to preach at the Succoth Strict Baptist Church, and at the age of 21 he accepted the pastorate of the latter church. The church prospered so that it had to be enlarged again & again. In 1864 the present chapel was built & opened by the Rev. James Wells of Surrey Tabernacle.

Whilst holding the pastorate at Rushden, he was for a time, Evening Lecturer at Zoar Chapel in Wellingborough.

He married Miss Ann Dulley, daughter of William Dulley of Wellingborough, founder of the firm of William Dulley & Sons, and they had one daughter. Their daughter named Dorothy Mary, married Mr. G. R. Mather, engineer of Cambridge.

He lived for the most part at Wellingborough and drove to Rushden to preach and continued the duties for 40 years, never missed a Sunday through incapacitation; an able preacher, in doctrine – Calvanistic.

He died in 1871 aged 66 and was buried in the old cemetery at Wellingborough. A tablet in Succoth Chapel reads “This Tablet is erected as a mark of esteem by the Members & Congregation of this Chapel”.

Extract from a note book of J E Smith - NRO Ref: 285P/300 - taken from a locally held photocopy

Rushden & Drawbridge
That remarkable man, the Rev. C. Drawbridge, a man ‘of ready wit’, in the exercise of which none was spared, and to his ‘Covered Van’, the ‘Providentia’, in which the revered gentleman travelled with his supporters on Sunday mornings to ‘Succoth Chapel’, Rushden, returning in time for a service in the upper room at the corner of St. John St. & High St.? From Notes published by Mr John Archer (of Wellingborough) of his father, Caleb Archer. M.S.S. & this work (ending November 19th, 1927) may have been published. Copied here from Rushden Argus dated November 18th, 1927, page 5, under ‘Things Grave & Gay’, col. 6. (Copied Saturday Evening, November 19th, 1927. J. Enos Smith).


Rushden Echo, 8th June 1906, transcribed by Kay Collins

Reminiscences - The Late Rev Charles Drawbridge - A Remarkable Personality
Among the many remarkable men associated with Rushden in the past, the Rev Charles Drawbridge, for many years pastor of the Succoth Baptist Church, is in the very front rank. Many interesting facts relating to Mr Drawbridge are enshrined in the memory of men and women still living in Rushden today, and we purpose publishing in the “Rushden Echo” from time to time these reminiscences as we may be able to across them.

Mr Drawbridge was in many senses a very wonderful man. That he was eccentric in the highest degree is well-known, but it is also true that he was a real genius. Of course many of the stories told of Mr Drawbridge are absolutely apocryphal, and, as a matter of fact, have been ascribed to scores of other well-known divines.

We are anxious to secure reliable information, and shall be glad to hear from any of our readers who can recall any interesting facts relating to Mr Drawbridge.

This week we publish thee absolutely authentic anecdotes, which, we think, will interest a wide circle.

John Wesley
On one occasion, Mr Drawbridge, who was a stern unflinching Calvanist, was attacking Arminian doctrines, when he cried out, “I can imagine I see John Wesley standing on a stool in the bottomless pit.” “Yes” whispered one of his hearers to another, “but what is the stool standing on?”

Laziness
Mr Drawbridge was at times very dramatic in his gesticulations, and frequently “suited the action to the word.”

Preaching one Sunday about the sin of laziness he told the story of a man who was on a journey. The traveller, coming to a place where the road divided, inquired the way of two men who were lazily lying down by the roadside. Without taking the trouble to reply verbally, one of the men just lifted up his foot and pointed down one of the roads. “Well,” said the traveller, “that is real laziness. If you can show anything more lazy than that, I’ll give you half-a-crown. Our readers will not be surprised to learn that Mr Drawbridge, whilst speaking of the man who raised his foot, illustrated the point by lifting his own foot over the door of the pulpit.

The New Hat
During the service at Succoth one Sunday morning a lady came into the chapel wearing a new hat.

“Make was for Mrs So-an-so,” cried Mr Drawbridge, the moment he saw her, “She’s got a chest of drawers on her head.”

The secret was that during the previous week the lady told her pastor that she had bought a new hat and that in order to pay for it she had sold a chest of drawers. Several versions of the story are afloat, one version stating that the lady was the preacher’s own wife, but we have reason to believe that the version we give is the correct one, and that the lady in question resided on the Wellingborough- road.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 18th February 1955, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Pastor Was So Outspoken He Caused Split
More stories have come to hand about the eccentric Rev. Charles Drawbridge, Calvinistic minister of Succoth Chapel, Rushden, whose home was at Wellingborough.

He was too fascinating a character for Wellingborough not to claim its share of him.

A Londoner, who was intended for the grocery trade, he first preached at 18. Though minister of Succoth, he lived at Wellingborough and preached at the old Zoar Chapel.

He also preached on Broad Green, and it was said that his voice was so loud that he could be heard at the L and N.W.R. station when the wind was that way.

Eventually he was debarred from Zoar because remarks he made offended some members. There was a split, and this was probably the origin of the Zoar in Knox Road.

Critical
He was equally critical of Church of England and Free Church personalities. On one occasion, hearing that another minister had received a “call from God” to go elsewhere, he commented:

“He would not have had it if the stipend had been half a crown less.”

Once when a fat member of his congregation came in late, he referred to him as “a great lump of fat not worth three-pence a pound.”

Disturbed while praying by a persistent cough from a member of his chapel, he shouted: “Fetch it up, Charles; if it ain’t no bigger than a chicken it won’t hurt you.”

One day he met the vicar of Wellingborough at the bedside of a poor man who was ill. After the vicar had said how sorry he was, Drawbridge got out 5s and gave the invalid.

“I’m sorry five shillings, vicar. How sorry are you?” he said. The vicar did likewise.

Vulgarity
Mr. Drawbridge often made vulgar remarks to which his flock took exception. Hearing that the Rev. William Bull was to succeed him, he told his congregation:

“Now you Wellingborough heifers, there’s a bull acoming. So look out.”

The Zoar members, who shut him out of their chapel, he spoke of as “a shovel full of cinders ready for the devil.”

But Charles Drawbridge had his good points. He was a fearless opponent of humbug and cant.


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