Long Bennington History Society


“Spiritual refreshment at the White Swan” by Robert Turner is a talk inspired by the speaker’s family history and a rather ornate Victorian chair!

In Bismarck’s Lutheran Prussia Roman Catholics were enthusiastically persecuted leading to the emigration of the Sabel family to England in 1874. Herman, sister and brother Pieter were members of a family of bakers in the town of Mainz. Both brothers were ordained and became parish priests in the Boston area: Pieter has the distinction of being the only ordained minister to hold the Iron Cross awarded for bravery and duty displayed during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. Both men threw themselves into priestly duties and covered their parish using exotic bicycles purchased at great expense in Ipswich. Herman and his sister moved to Derbyshire, Pieter to Grantham which he used as a base to travel to the nearby villages and towns to preach and meet members of the Faith. He came to Long Bennington in 1882, using a barn to hold meetings but then was given permission by the landlord of the White Swan pub to use his hostelry as a venue. The flock were mostly Irish itinerant farm workers but such was the need for spiritual guidance that at one time it was claimed over 800 souls attended services. Interestingly no mention of this was made in the Anglican parish magazine of the time. Pieter died in 1919 and is buried in St. Mary’s churchyard, Grantham.