Silvester Horne

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Charles Silvester Horne

Charles Silvester Horne (1865–1914) was a late 19th century and early 20th century Congregationalist minister, who additionally served as Liberal M.P. for Ipswich, and was a noted orator.[1] He was also the father of the humorous broadcaster, Kenneth Horne.[2]


He was born in Cuckfield, Sussex, on 15 April 1865, the youngest child of Charles Horne, the minister of Cuckfield Congregational Church, and his wife, whose maiden name was Harriet Silvester Simpson.[3] When he was six weeks old[4] the family moved to Newport, Shropshire. Here Charles Horne gave up the ministry, becoming the editor of the local newspaper, the Newport Advertiser and became a partner of his wife's uncle, Charles Silvester in a printing and bookselling firm. Horne lived the rest of his childhood in the town, and was educated at Adams' Grammar School, where his headmaster was a Mr. Tom Collins.[5] His father's newspaper was very much a family business, and every member of the family helped with it at some point.[6] The family at this time attended the Newport Congregational Chapel, which is described by Horne's biographer as "The most considerable Nonconformist place of worship in the town."[7] It was through this church that Horne first began to preach, and his thoughts turned towards the Congregational ministry.[8]

Early adult years[edit]

He graduated MA from Glasgow University in 1886 and subsequently studied Theology at Mansfield College, Oxford, where he was in the first intake of students at the new Congregational college,[9] before beginning his working life as Minister of Kensington Congregational Chapel. During this period he married Katharine, the eldest daughter of Lord Cozens Hardy, Master of the Rolls from 1907 until 1918.

January 1910 Liberal Election Postcard

Fame grows[edit]

His fame as a preacher and author grew after he took over Whitefield's Tabernacle, Tottenham Court Road in 1903, which he rebuilt as Whitefield's Central Mission.[10] He wrote hymns which are still sung today.[11] From 1910 until his death he had a national platform for his views as an MP.


In 1914, while on holiday in Canada, returning from Niagara Falls, he was suddenly taken ill travelling on a steamer and died, aged forty-nine, before arriving at Toronto.[4] His body was taken home and buried at Church Stretton, Shropshire,[4] in the cemetery at Cunnery Road. Tributes poured in and his memorial service was attended by David Lloyd George.[12] His wife[13] and children[14] were to outlive him by over half a century, his youngest daughter living until 1984.[15] One of his grandchildren, Archibald Ronald McDonald Gordon, was Bishop of Portsmouth from 1975 to 1984.


He married Katharine Cozens-Hardy, daughter of Herbert Cozens-Hardy with whom he had seven children:

Silvester Horne Institute[edit]

In Church Stretton is the Silvester Horne Institute,[16] a notable community building that serves as the town council's meeting place.[17] During his life he also built the White House on the town's Sandford Avenue, as the family home, which later becoming a nursing home before being demolished in 2006.



  1. ^ The Times, Monday, 4 May 1914; pg. 8; Issue 40514; col E Obituary
  2. ^ Father of Kenneth Horne
  3. ^ W.B. Selbie: The Life of Charles Silvester Horne (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1920), P. 3
  4. ^ a b c "Death of Mr Silvester Horne, M.P.". Shrewsbury Chronicle. 9 May 1914. p. 11. 
  5. ^ Selbie, P. 3
  6. ^ Selbie, P. 4
  7. ^ Selbie, P. 5
  8. ^ Selbie, P. 6
  9. ^ Selbie, P. 30
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ Words of his most famous hymn
  12. ^ The Times, Friday, 15 May 1914; pg. 6; Issue 40524; col E
  13. ^ The Times, Monday, 7 July 1958; pg. 13; Issue 54196; col C Death of Lady Horne
  14. ^ The Times, Saturday, 25 April 1959; pg. 8; Issue 54444; col D Lady Gordon dies
  15. ^ The Times, Thursday, 7 June 1984; pg. 30; Issue 61851; col A Last child Joan dies
  16. ^ Liberal England Silvester Horne Institute
  17. ^ Church Stretton Town Council

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Felix Cobbold and
Sir Daniel Ford Goddard
Member of Parliament for Ipswich
With: Sir Daniel Ford Goddard
Succeeded by
John Ganzoni and
Sir Daniel Ford Goddard