Saturday, March 7, 2020

Featured Resident

The Reverend Shapleigh Thomas

Shapleigh Thomas, third son of Reverend Milton Thomas III and his wife Geneva Shapleigh grew up in a small town in Kent. One of five children, with two older brothers and two younger sisters, he was always the peacemaker and arbiter. Tall and thin with a shock of dark hair and deep set eyes of brown, Shapleigh would often draw his brow together while studying things most intently. As a child he showed an early interest in nature, collecting his own specimens, labelling and carefully preserving them. Butterflies particularly captivated him as did the local birds. By the age of ten he could identify any bird or butterfly in his environs. Shapleigh was a thoughtful child who spent many an afternoon in the library perusing his father’s books and in time began to add his own books to the shelves.

His father educated him at home with his brothers until he entered Oxford and finally was ordained. Shapleigh knew from a young age he was destined for the church as most second and third sons are, but he was content with his lot. In his teenage years he visited the sick and helped those in need when he was home from school. Patient and determined, his parents doted on him and their loss was great when his orders came and he was sent to a distant county.

The town of Fayrewood in Kent is a lush area with many farms, a bustling high street and a tight knit community of people. Among its residents Shapleigh Thomas had many friends and people would call out greetings wherever he went. Well liked and respected many of the young ladies cast an eye in his direction but he only had eyes for Mary.

The Guilford family, neighbours of the Thomas’, ran the local oast house with the help of their three sons and Mary, their only daughter. Mary could often be found chatting with Shapleigh after church and it became evident to all that one day they would wed. Once Shapleigh was ensconced in Amberleigh’s Rectory and had established himself as church leader and dear friend of the village, he returned to Fayrewood to marry his sweetheart, Mary, and bring her to his home to begin their life together.

Mary and Shapleigh have made their home in the rectory by the church, keeping a few sheep and planting a large kitchen garden. The two of them can often be seen working in the church grounds, pulling weeds and trimming low branches, chatting happily as they toiled. Shapleigh and Mary both have become an integral part of the Amberliegh family, liked and admired by all.

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