Rev. Leslie Wilkinson 1937-1945
Leslie Wilkinson was born in 1906 in Hull. He studied English at Keble College, Oxford, where he also found time to become a member of the successful university fencing team. Following a year at Lincoln Theological College, he had curacies in Redcar, Hull, Beverley and Harrogate before becoming Vicar of Dringhouses in 1937.
The village was absorbed into the York City boundary in 1937 and the parish was growing: now with a population of around 1200. It was not long after his move into the parish, that the country was once again at war, with all the stress and restrictions which this brought. Finance was a continual concern with increased insurance costs and the expense of blacking out the church. All repairs to the church had to put off until after the war, with the exception of the renovation of the sanctuary. The work was a gift from Mr and Mrs Grisdale, in memory of their son who had been killed in a car crash in 1940. The woodwork was by Thompson of Kilburn, and the trademark mouse is still visible on the altar rail.
Music continued to play an important part in the life of the church during Leslie’s incumbency. The choir was all male at this time and the music master from Nunthorpe and Mill Mount Grammar schools, Edward Prangnell, became the organist and choirmaster. The choir had an excellent reputation, sometimes said to be second only to the choir of York Minster.
It was in 1944 that Leslie was asked to undertake the additional care of St Chad’s parish while their vicar was acting as a Forces Chaplain, which of course meant an increased workload. He was grateful to those in the parish, including a lay reader, who helped to ease the burden. By the end of 1944 Leslie was preparing to move to a new parish, mainly on account of family health reasons, but he was mindful of the 160-170 parishioners who were still serving in the forces. He had hoped to welcome them all home again. He left Dringhouses in January 1945 for the parish of Dewsbury Moor, and an ironic postscript is the entry in the church minutes which records the damage to the vicarage gates done by the removal van – the repair bill would be sent to Leslie to forward to the removal firm for payment!
After the West Riding, Leslie moved to Lower Teesdale and later to Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent where he also took on the duties of a prison chaplain. His final parish was Ash near Canterbury, but he died from a heart attack after only three years there.