1947-1974 John Henry Molyneux

Rev. John Henry Molyneux 1947-1974

John Henry Molyneux was born near Doncaster in 1905 and trained as an engineer prior to studying at Kelham Theological College and ordination in York Minster in 1934. After curacies in the north east of England, he was a Forces Chaplain from 1944, working in Holland where he met his Dutch wife, Dorothy. They were married in The Hague in 1946 and returned to England very soon afterwards. When they arrived at Dringhouses in 1947 they were faced with many post-war problems: the organ, the vicarage, the church roof and bell turret, not to mention the ongoing concerns over the church hall – all of which meant never-ending calls for money-raising during the years of austerity.

The parish had a population of 1200 when he arrived and these were the families whose financial support would be needed for the urgent work required on the church. While work was being done on the roof, there was a severe storm whilst the tiles were off and serious damage was done to the organ pipes below. Water was also getting into stonework and foundations. Water damage also made the vicarage unsuitable for the vicar and his family at this time, so they were moved into temporary accommodation on Scarcroft Hill (1950-51) while the old house was renovated. However, by 1961, the condition of the vicarage was an increasing concern in spite of the alterations carried out in the ‘fifties. In Spring 1962 plans were made for the old Victorian parsonage house to be replaced by a modern vicarage. Temporary accommodation for the vicarage family was solved by hiring a large caravan! This was stationed close to the east end of the church building and was to be the home of the Molyneux family (John Henry, Dorothy, three boys, their rabbit and cat) for the next nine months!

In October 1968 the church spire was declared a potential danger and by February 1970 approval was finally given for use of fibreglass instead of stone. This was not only lighter but cheaper. The installation of the new spire was finally completed in November that year. In 1972, a new statue of St Edward the Confessor was given in memory of a faithful church member. Although the church had been commonly referred to as Dringhouses Church, it would now be increasingly known as St Edward’s with the statue being a reminder of its original dedication.

By the time of John Henry’s retirement in 1974, there had been many changes, not just in Dringhouses and the church buildings, but in church worship, church groups, mission and music. The farewell gifts presented to the vicar and his wife were appropriate for an active retirement, but within six months John Henry died after playing the game he loved, at Fulford Golf Club. He is remembered for his friendship and kindness (both inside and outside the church), his dislike of pretension and love of fun, and sympathetic pastoral care.

  • Church of England.
  • Diocese of York.