ID: PH01_BLL / Elaine Barker

TitleReverend Llewellyn Christopher Watson Bullock

The Reverend Llewellyn Christopher Watson Bullock was instituted as incumbent of St Stephen's Church, Great Wigborough in 1925. It was his final appointment before retiring in 1933 having moved to Great Wigborough from Rugby School where he had been a teacher from 1902 to 1925. His sons had also attended the school.

The Reverend Bullock was born in 1866 at Faulkbourne Hall near Witham which had been his family's seat since 1637. In his book Memoirs of the family Bullock 1166 - 1905 privately published in 1905, he traces an almost unbroken senior male line from Osmund Bullock, known of in 1166, in Arborfield, Berkshire.

When Reverend Bullock's ancestor, Col John Bullock, died in 1809 with no male heir the colonel's nephew, Jonathan Josiah Christopher Watson became head of the family, changing his name to Bullock to perpetuate the family name, hence 'Watson' being amongst the Reverend's forenames.

In the twentieth century, with the Reverend's brother also having no male heir, the Bullock line passed to the Reverend Bullock as the second son, subsequently passing through his son and grandson. Now his great grandson, actor and Art Historian, Osmund Bullock, is head of the family.

In 1889, the Reverend Bullock married Cecil Augusta Margaret Isabella Spearman (1869 - 1959) who came with him to Great Wigborough and was to outlive him. They had seven children, sadly their third son, Alexander, died as a baby in 1899. The eldest son, Walter (1890 - 1944) became a Professor of Italian Studies, Christopher, (1891 - 1972), was an eminent civil servant in the Air Ministry, Margaret (1901 - 1983) died in Shropshire in 1983. Her husband was John Crosbie Ward who was to gain the rank of major in the South Wales Borderers. They had two sons.

Evelyn remained unmarried and lived into her eighties, choosing to return to Essex to be buried in Great Wigborough's churchyard. Osmund (1905 -1933) died young at 28 in an air accident and the youngest daughter Avice married Stephen Herbert Pierssene at Great Wigborough Church on 20th April 1927 and had two sons. She was to marry again ten years later.

The Reverend Bullock was educated at Marlborough School and Kings College, Cambridge. He was an assistant master at Liverpool College from 1895 - 1902 before moving to Rugby School (1902 - 1925).

After moving to Great Wigborough his interest in genealogy and heraldry led, almost upon arrival, to membership of the Essex Archaeological Society where he was elected to the council in 1934. He proof read articles for the society and used to visit Somerset House in pursuit of documents and wills for his research.

He published a book of poetry in 1916 entitled In Lonely Walks, chiefly lyrical poetry some of which was suggested by the war.

As a teacher at Rugby School many of his former students must have been involved in WW1 - many as junior officers - and his own son, Christopher Llewellyn Bullock was to be badly injured in July 1915 following the second Battle of Ypres.

Christopher, born in 1891 had been educated at Rugby where he gained a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge. After being offered a post in India with the Home and Indian Civil Service in 1914, upon the outbreak of WW1 he volunteered to serve with the Rifle Brigade Special Service. A second lieutenant, he was one of three officers and 175 men of the battalion wounded on 6th July 1915 during a major attack by the 11th Infantry Brigade on the German trenches in the small Flanders village of Boezinge about 3 miles north of Ypres. Seriously wounded, he was mentioned in despatches.

On returning to active service Christopher was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps, training as an observer and then gaining his wings as a pilot. Records show he received his flying certificate flying a Maurice Farman bi-plane at the Military School at Brooklands airfield in Surrey on 11th August 1916 but in 1917 he was declared not fit for flying duties. He then joined Air Staff working for the Air Ministry. In 1919 he became principal secretary to Winston Churchill, the Secretary of State for Air.

Receiving a knighthood in 1929, he was to be the youngest Permanent Under Secretary at the British Air Ministry from 1931 - 1936. He has been considered the driving force behind strengthening the RAF in the years leading up to WW2. However, he made some very powerful enemies and following a campaign by the head of the Civil Service he was dismissed in 1936. He went on to pursue a successful career in business although campaigned for redress for the rest of his life. The consensus was that he was very badly treated and it was written of him

by his departure the Air Force lost one of its ablest defenders
Viscount Templewood: Empire of the Air, the Advent of the Air Age 1922-1929.

Walter Llewellyn Bullock, the eldest son, was born in 1890 and educated at his father's first school in Liverpool. He was at Rugby school from the age of 14 - 19 years leaving in 1909. He went to Harvard in the USA in 1913 and took both a BA and MA in 1917. Due to rheumatic fever as a child he had a weak heart and was therefore refused admission by the British, Canadian and American armies but wanting to make some contribution to the war he travelled with a Mission, subsidised by Harvard, to Russia and Romania. He was in Petrograd during the Russian Revolution, was present at the storming of the Winter Palace and saw the fall of Kerensky. Walter was nearly burned to death by the Bolsheviks who set fire to the car in which he was out on rescue work with others on his mission. He was then sent to Romania where he worked for two years in citizen relief running farms in the summer and soup kitchens in the winter.

In 1922 he gained a Ph.D. at Harvard and took a job at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania. In 1927 he accepted an associate professorship at the University of Chicago and in 1935 a chair at Manchester University. His subject was Italian Studies and during WW2 contact with Italy became impossible during which time he worked for the Civil Defence. A punishing schedule of lecturing to the forces meant long and difficult journeys, often during blackout, and led to strains on his health; he died suddenly in 1944 at only 54 to be subsequently buried in Great Wigborough churchyard. His massive library of 5,000 books and several hundred pamphlets now rests at John Rylands Library in Manchester.

As we have seen, both Walter and Christopher demonstrated a determination to contribute to the war effort during both world wars despite serious health problems, a patriotism that was shared by their father and dominates his poetry.

This poem written only weeks after the beginning of World War 1 exhorts men to fight, to defeat cowardly thoughts, to 'be a man'. It accepts the ultimate price but celebrates the brave sacrifice.


SPIRIT of England! Dubbed they thee laggard -
Fools, who knew night of the call of the blood?
Ay, till thy clarion answered the braggard
Who counted thee craven - thee Liberty's brood.

Spirit of England! Be there a dastard,
Shame him to manhood with glance of thine eye;
Hearten the waverer, lest he prove bastard
Scion of heroes, and sonship a lie.

Spirit of England! Watch ever o'er him,
Fighting or marching, in fort or in field;
Who hears Honour's call, as his fathers before him,
Still steadfast in peril, still scorning to yield.

Spirit of England! Pillow the dying;
Croon of the bay on a patriot's grave,
Whisper a lullaby free from all sighing,
Kiss him to sleep - the last sleep of the brave.

September 1914 In Lonely Walks Llewellyn Bullock

By the time he writes Mors Adolescens in May 1915, Reverend Bullock's thoughts are darker as he imagines meeting Death stalking the forest. However, at the end he senses a rallying halo'ed presence, an inspiring voice, whose breath was as the bugles blow.

Only two months later, his son Christopher was to receive his injuries at Ypres. Nevertheless in October 1915 in Serbia's Call Reverend Bullock still exhorts Stand, England, fast to fight tyranny and be ashamed of weak action.

But by Holy Week in 1916 he writes in The Winepress

Lo, where the film of Time upon the screen
unfolds its record! Nations' rise and fall;
The tree a stricken stump that once was green;
And every phase a script upon the wall.
But we, purblind, nor mark nor learn: instead
Again the press is red - the press is red.

Reverend Bullock's family history and his book of poetry were his only publications. His obituary in the transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society describes

a certain fastidiousness which marked him, made him critical of his own work and in consequence he published but little. He has left, however, numerous MS. notes on various subjects, including material for a history of the collar of SS* and these have been presented to the Society's Library by his widow.

*The collar of Esses is a famous livery collar worn, in modern times, over the robes of the lord Chief Justice of England at state occasions.

Osmund Llewellyn Bullock was born while his father was teaching at Rugby in 1905 and was too young to be involved in WW1. He was to die young at only 28 in a flying accident in 1933. Osmund, a Flying Officer, and Leading Telegraphist, William Frederick Goyns, were to both be killed during fleet manoeuvres close to the Tarbat Ness lighthouse near Portmahomack, East Scotland. They were flying in a Blackburn Ripon, a carrier-based torpedo bomber and reconnaissance bi-plane. Both men were in the 811 Naval Air Squadron, which was a Unit of the British Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, and had taken off from aircraft carrier, HMS FURIOUS. Osmund is buried in St Stephen's Churchyard, Great Wigborough.

Osmund's grave, along with those of his parents, Llewellyn and Margaret, sister Evelyn, and brother Walter are all in the North East corner of St Stephen's church, Great Wigborough. Currently obscured by brambles, it is hoped to make a pathway to see their headstones.

Llewellyn Bullock died in Colchester in 1936 and had his funeral service at St Mary at the Walls Church in Colchester before burial at Great Wigborough. I will let the writer of his obituary, who clearly knew Llewellyn Bullock well and appreciated his friendship and shared interests have the final word.

A man of singular charm, and one who subordinated outside interests to the administration of his parish, he represented a type of clergyman, which, under modern conditions, threatens to become rarer than formerly. G.M.B. Essex Archaeological Transactions New Series Xxii Part 1 Pages 155 - 157

Elaine Barker

Essex Archaeological Society Transactions XXII Part 1 pages 155 - 157
In Lonely Walks Llewellyn Bullock
Memoirs of the family Bullock 1166 - 1905 Llewellyn Bullock

Read More
The Rectors of St Stephens, Great Wigborough
The Bullock Family of Great Wigborough
Grave of Rev. Llewellyn C. Bullock
Grave of Walter Llewellyn Bullock

AuthorElaine Barker
Keywordsrevd, rev
PublishedFebruary 2021
SourceMersea Museum