Churchman and Composer
Thomas Wardle was an accomplished organist and a talented composer of music who was heavily involved in local church affairs. At Swainsley he played an organ, which was driven by waterpower. The water was raised from the Manifold River by means of a hydraulic ram.
He was a churchwarden at St Edward’s, Cheddleton, a position occupied by his father before him.
Wardle was the first choirmaster at Cheddleton, teaching the choir with a concertina and an originator of the Lichfield Diocesan Choral Society. Many Wardle family members were involved in the church at Cheddleton, Thomas’s sister Phoebe was choir mistress and organist there for 10 years prior to her death in 1896.
Thomas Wardle was responsible for the restoration of the preaching cross in Cheddleton churchyard and through his contacts with George Gilbert Scott, Jnr. expedited the restoration of the church in 1863/4.
Among the many books written by Thomas Wardle is ‘A Brief Memoir of the Rev. A.F. Boucher, M.A., late vicar of Cheddleton and Rural Dean of Leek’.
He was also actively involved at St Lawrence, Warslow where he both trained the choir and played the organ. A chancel, north vestry, and south organ chamber were added at Warslow in 1908 at his expense. The east window at Warslow has Morris & Co glass in memory of Thomas and Elizabeth Wardle.
Among Wardle’s musical compositions are a set of chants for congregational singing, a carol, a fishing song and ‘Music for the form of Solemnization of Holy Matrimony.
The fishing song was entitled ‘We came to the Dove one hot July’ and the carol, ‘Christ was born on Christmas Night’ had words by C W Bishop with music by Sir Thomas Wardle and T Tertius Noble. The matrimonial music was composed for the wedding of his daughter Margaret to Philip Jukes Worthington on 28 September 1899 and also used at the wedding of his daughter Edith in 1902.
This music can be seen in the local studies room at Leek Library.