Centenary History project

Rev A C Ashpool

Ministers: Robert Hall Memorial Baptist Church

Name: Arthur Charles Ashpool

Dates: 1921-33

Handbook Entry:
Willingham, 1908-14
Burley Road, Leeds, 1914-18
Chaplain to H.M. Forces 191b-20
Robert Hall, 1921-33 Acton Lane, Harlesden, London, 1933-38
Blackfield, 1938-47

Memoir:- Baptist Handbook, 1955
Arthur Charles Ashpool was born at Peterborough on the 16th of December, 1879, but at an early age moved with his parents to Aberdare in Glamorganshire. As a young man the call to the ministry came to him with resistless force, and he entered Cardiff College, where for a time he had Dr. M.E. Aubrey as a fellow student. His first charge was at Willingham in Cambridgeshire, where he remained for six years, removing in 1914 to Burley Road, Leeds. From 1916 to 1920 he served as an army chaplain, most of the time in Egypt, and the disabilities from which he suffered during that period of service left him with a weakness from which he never fully recovered. In 1921 he accepted the pastorate of the Robert Hall Memorial Church in Leicester, and after twelve happy and fruitful years there moved to Acton Lane, Harlesden. His last sphere of service was at Blackfield in Hants. where he was the means of building up a healthy cause and of erecting new church premises in a growing district. At the time he served as officiating Chaplain to the R.A.F. stationed near.

Ill-health compelled retirement in 1947, when he moved back to Leicester. He was visiting his son at Horley in the spring of 1954 when he had a serious heart attack, from which there were hopes that he would recover, but a relapse followed and he passed away on the 1st July. He was a man of genial disposition with a great capacity for friendship. His ministry was marked by zeal and devotion, and it can be said of him that he was a "workman that needeth not to be ashamed." Our sympathy goes out to his widow formerly Miss Annie Elizabeth Wright, of Wellingborough, to whom this separation comes after forty-four years of happy married life, and to their only son now living in Surrey.



Memoir: Letter from Mrs Marjorie R. Dyer of Blackfield B.C.

"... I happen to be almost the oldest Church member and remember the said gentleman very well; my father was Church Secretary throughout that ministry.

Mr Ashpool is remembered in our Church with pleasure and thanksgiving to this day. The building we now have was the result of Mr Ashpool's vision for the area, he managed to acquire the site from the then local landowner for a nominal sum. My husband worked with him in close harmony as Building Secretary. Prior to that time we had a church on the edge of a common joining the new forest, it had served its purpose and many remember it with pride, but it could not have served the present day needs. When war broke out in 1939 the new building was near completion and we were allowed to have it finished and opened for morning worship at the end of October 1939. There are two or three members now who were baptised by Mr Ashpool, and are very proud of the fact. My husband was called home fifteen months ago, or he would have enjoyed paying tribute to his great friend..."



On July the fifth we gathered for the Memorial Service of the Rev. Arthur Charles Ashpool, joining our hearts together in thanksgiving to God and in worthy remembrance of one, who was loved by all, because he loved them.

After his training in our Baptist College al Cardiff, he commenced his ministry in 1908 and in the course of it served in five Pastorates, until his retirement in 1947. He also served from 1916-1920 as Chaplain to H.M. Forces. His closing ;Pastorate at Blackfield was a crowning blessing and it virtually stands as a Memorial to his gracious and Godly service.

It was very fitting that the Memorial Service took place in Robert Hall Memorial Church, for he was Minister here from 1921-1933, and from his retirement he was in membership with this Fellowship. The friends of the Church and the citizens of Leicester, who knew him, valued his friendship, and loved and respected him with a true affection. And what he was here - he was everywhere! A keen Christian sportsman, a kind of Padre to Leicester City F.C. and an eager supporter of the local and County Cricket, he was very fond of children, a lover of young people and a great, warm-hearted friend to all. One of our number can remember him once saying from the Pulpit, "I think one of the first questions we will be asked when we get to Heaven is: -`Were you friendly?"' Many of you know how he came to your homes and offices with his great capacity for friendship and what joy and blessing he brought. The Area Superintendent said to me over the telephone on the day of his passing-on, "He was a lovely man! He had a big, warm heart and that was the strength of his fine ministry." Scores of you were married during his ministry, your children were dedicated in his time; and many of you were baptized by him and given that strong, right hand of Fellow-ship on joining the Church. And your memories are rich and happy of him.
So we can say without exaggeration in Scriptural language:
"Oh man, greatly beloved!"

Together we have given thanks to God and we continue to give thanks with hundreds of others -who have cause to praise God for His servant's life of radiant friendship and faithful service, while he has entered into the Peace and Joy of the Fuller Light.

Mrs. Ashpool, who shared so dearly and fully all her husband's life work, and her only son, Douglas, have our prayers and lovingly thoughts and the assurance of our Christian companionship in these trying days.
And to our lips, for her, there comes the Poet's prayer:
"The love of all thy people comfort thee, Till God set thee by his- side again."



REV. A. C. ASHPOOL - An Appreciation.
In the autumn of 1921 two men met casually in a room at Robert Hall Memorial Church. One asked, "May I ask you a personal question'?" and the other put his arm round the shoulders of the questioner and said, "I want you to speak to me as you would speak to your own brother." This gesture of great friendliness and the words following it came as a surprise then, but remembered now one can see how truly they indicate the character and personality of one whose recent passing is so deeply lamented. It was, indeed, so typical of the Christian man and the Christian minister; there was nothing dual about it, it was all of one piece. For A.C.A.'s religion broke through the walls of the sanctuary and manifested itself wherever he was. He preached the need for going the second mile and practised it supremely, and the road was travelled often at physical cost, for he never at any time during his long ministry with us or since, enjoyed robust health. His chaplaincy in H.M. Forces in the first world war exacted a toll that persisted to the end, yet this did not deter him in being about his Master's business - the radiancy of his nature and of his religion, gave him strength.

But under the radiancy there lay a sensitiveness that could feel acutely any show of unkindness or lack of charity. One rarely saw, however, that his feelings had been hurt, and there was no sign of personal resentment.

He came to Robert Hall Memorial at a time when men had become soured through the experiences of war and their attitude towards the Church extremely critical and who found rehabilitation difficult. Immediately on his settlement with us he invited the ex-servicemen to meet him. The response was magnificent. Criticism of the Church had to be revised, for here was a minister who really meant to minister and a man whose friendliness had a compelling and dynamic force. It can safely be affirmed that the Christian impact of A.C.A. was a turning point in the lives of many men with whom he came into contact, and some now hold responsible positions in our Church and elsewhere. What a great debt we owe to his ministry and how profoundly we thank God that we knew him and enjoyed his fellowship! But it should not be thought that his interest was in the welfare of men alone. He cared for people, and served people, whether men or women or children. He loved them all; he entered their homes almost as one of the family; he shared their joys and their sorrows; and their problems and difficulties were his too. He once confessed that whenever he received a visitor at the manse he invariably prayed for guidance to say the right word and reach the right decision in dealing with any problem that might be put before him. In the light of such an approach is it surprising that he had a successful pastorate covering a period of nearly twelve years?

His subsequent ministries at Harlesden and Blackfield were an extension of the good work in Leicester. His desire to minister to people was so strong that it could not be otherwise with him. It was the inevitable working out of his Christianity. Yet it is true to say that his heart, or a large part of it, remained in R.H.M.C. the place and people he had loved so long and so deeply and whose regard for him had never waved. So in Leicester he spent most of his vacations and eventually took up residence here on his retirement from the active ministry in 1947.

And now, nearly thirty-three years after he first came to Robert Hall Memorial, and at the completion of his earthly ministry, we keenly feel the severance of bonds which held firmly over the years, but knowing that the influence and love and friendship he gave and shared will abide with us.

Thanks be to God!