Article Index

Is the gospels sound never hard in Simonsbath?

Rev Thornton recounts one other story about John Karslake.  “One day I walked down to Simonsbath village and found a man [from the Plymouth Brethren] on a tub, very hot, preaching!  Mr and Mrs Kerslake and some noisy children formed his entire audience.  As I went by he cast an angry look at me and declared that Exmoor was a place where the Gospel sound was never heard, and where all souls lay steeped in sin.  Presently I called on Kerslake and remonstrated with him for giving encouragement to such a spiteful, silly bigot.  “Does he know all our people here very intimately?” I enquired.  “Lord bless you, sir,” said Kerslake, “ he is not acquainted with one of them.”   “Then how does he know that they are all steeped in sin?  And is it true that the Gospel sound is never heard in Simonsbath Church, Mr Kerslake?” I asked.  “No it is not true and he ought never to have said it but, sir, I believe the man is mad, and I should not have gone to hear him if he had not walked all the way from Lynmouth to preach the Gospel on a hot day, a very hot day, sir.”  “Humph,” said I, “a queer reason surely.”  “Yes,” was the stout rejoinder, “and the day is so exceedingly warm that I really would have listened even if he had been a High Churchman.”

By 1862 John Karslake was one of the four constables at Simonsbath.    He gave up the cottage, workshop and land in 1875 when the cottage and shop (but not the land)  were taken over by William Hodge – his successor as Estate Carpenter – at a rent of £4.10.0 per half year.