A RATHER stroppy 1924 letter from J H Barlow to the Andover Advertiser and appearing in the Back Through the Pages feature at the beginning of last month, prompted a local history colleague to ask whether I knew anything more about this character, whose address was given as The Apostlery, Andover.

His letter complained about the positioning of house numbers, particularly in Junction Road and Old Winton Road, when attached to the front door rather than the front gate, causing him a needless and hazardous trek up ‘circuitous’ garden paths only to find it was not the right house.

This clergyman’s evening visits were so difficult that he was no longer going to anyone in those roads because of the problem.

Revd John Herbert Barlow had come to Andover a little time after June 1921, as curate of St Mary’s church.

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He was born in Kingswood, near Bristol in 1877, son of Joseph and Mary Barlow whose children’s births chart their successive movements around the country during a short time.

Joseph was a Moravian Church minister, a denomination that originated in 15th-century Bohemia which later spread to England.

As part of the general evangelical movement, small Moravian churches sprung up where districts were thought to be ill-served by the Church of England.

It still exists but numbers now comprise less than 1,000 members countrywide.

The 1881 census records the Barlow family at the Moravian parsonage at Baltonsborough, near Wells, in Somerset.

John was the second of four sons, and 10 years later he was a pupil at a boys’ boarding school near Bradford, Yorkshire.

By 1901 he was a master at the same school but another 10 years after that he had become a presbyter of the Moravian Church.

He was then still in Yorkshire at 6 Chapel Fold, Lower Wyke.

At some point after 1911, he returned to the Bristol area and the next we hear of him is his arrest in August 1920 on a charge of assaulting a girl in a Bath cinema.

However, a 'not guilty' verdict was greeted with applause from the court gallery.

By then, he had been ordained into the Church of England and was the curate of St Mark’s church, Easton, Bristol.

Expediency may have moved him from Bristol, as the 1921 census taken in June of that year, finds him at St Thomas’ church in Ryde, Isle of Wight.

In 1922, he authored the Bach Chorale Book and must have been in Andover by 1923 when, as curate of St Mary’s, he appeared in the electoral register of autumn that year, lodging at Holly Villas, 88 Junction Road with the Rovedino family.

His letter from ‘The Apostlery’ was written from here.

In 1926, he moved to London where he led a somewhat troubled life and perhaps mental instability was overtaking him.

In short succession during 1928, he was twice fined for being drunk and there was a repeat of the Bath cinema incident at a picture palace at Westminster.

He was then of ‘no fixed abode’.

The end came on May 13, 1929, at Margate, while staying at the Clergy Rest.

During a walk along the Upper Promenade, he stopped, put down his stick, hat and pipe, got over the fence and let himself fall to the level some 40ft below.

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He was picked up unconscious but died later in hospital.

A note in his pocket read ‘I am over-sensitive. The noise has killed me. I cannot stand the world. I am not insane but everything hurts me. There is no cure.’

An inquest at Margate recorded a verdict of suicide while of unsound mind.

If you are interested in local history, why not join Andover History and Archaeology Society? Details can be found at andoverlocalhistoryarchaeology.uk