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Henry Walter Fincham FSA

St John Ambulance Book of Remembrance

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Tribute by: Barbara Hasler

Date added: 4 Aug 2014

My grandfather, who was born in 1860, was the librarian at St John's Gate well into his 90s. He was also the curator of the Order of St John Museum, and was promoted to the grade of 'Knight of Grace' in 1924.  In 1933 he published a book 'The Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem'.  He married in 1888 and had three sons (the middle son, B Fincham, is remembered also in this Book, and was my father).

At one point in his youth my grandfather was playing cricket with his friends on Finsbury Fields when Charles Dickens came over to them and chatted with them for a considerable time.  He also met Edison at the 1870 Exhibition.

In 1894 at the request of the Chancellor of the Order, my grandfather and a colleague (Arthur Millward) undertook the difficult and unthankful task of removing the 325 bodies then lying in St John's Crypt, prior to the Crypt's restoration in 1890 (it took a few years to raise the funds required for the building work to commence).  He then took great care to ensure that certain stones that had been discovered from the Priory Church (dating from 1185) were carefully stored for later inspection.

My grandfather's other interest was photography and he took many lantern slides and photographs in the 1890s and early 20th century of objects connected with the Order (these are all carefully filed in the Order's archives collection).

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