History

Rearsby Farm is situated on the brow of what was once known as Noble Hill, overlooking the picturesque Connington Valley and the magnificent Giant’s Castle mountain range. The Victorian style farmhouse was built by Pastor Samuel Henry Radcliff Noble who was the first Anglican Pastor to come to Mooi River from England and the farm itself, was named after the little village of Rearsby 10 miles north of Leicester, where he was the Pastor of the local Parish, prior to immigrating to South Africa.

Pastor Noble was the Pastor of the local Mooi River parish, St Andrews, from 1906 to 1920. The exquisite dressed sandstone church of St Andrews Parish is situated on the Giant’s Castle Road approximately 8km from Rearsby Farm. Samuel Noble originated from the little English town of Frolesworth and was the sixth generation of Noble men of the cloth, and his lineage in the Frolesworth Parish can be traced back to the 1600’s and the village of Rearsby itself, back to 1068.

Pastor Noble built Rearsby in 1906 and lived in the homestead with his wife, Mabel and 2 daughters, Audrey Margaret and Helen Mary for 40 years until his death in 1946. His father was Rev. S.H. Noble, rector of Frolesworth county Leicester and Mabel’s father was a certain James Lamb Moore, hailing from Wigan, Southport Lancashire.

Since 1946, Rearsby Farm has changed hands five times, being owned by the Crawford family from 1946 to 1959, The Tomlinson family from 1959 to 1989, the Edgar family from 1989 to 1998, the Parker family from 1998 to 2005 and currently the Clarke family.

There is an interesting book, written by the previous owner, retired Brigadier Jim Parker, who was the British military attaché to Pretoria and who retired from the military to take up a life as a tour operator and farmer in the Midlands. The book, “Just Now, Now Now” is written with humour and describes the Parker’s life and some hilarious experiences as an English couple settling and adjusting to life in the Natal Midlands. Copies are available on request.

Vicars or Rectors of the Anglican Parish of Mooi River

From 1872 until the Easter of 1906, Mooi River fell under the Parish of Estcourt.

The first Vicar of Mooi River, based in Estcourt before the splitting of the Parish, was George (“Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”) Smith, a hero of Rorke’s Drift. It was rumoured that he was awarded the VC after this battle, but correspondence with the War Office in London in 1938 proved it to be untrue.

In 1906, Herbert Henry Foster was Vicar of Estcourt and he became Vicar of Mooi River on the separation of the two parishes. However, it was only for a short period before he was called to St Saviour’s Cathedral in Pietermaritzburg.

Rev. Herbert Foster became known as an energetic builder of churches in the Mooi River district, right from 1902 while he was the Vicar of the combined parish of Estcourt and Mooi River. He encouraged the building of St Mary’s, Highlands, St Andrews, Giant’s Castle Road, St Peter’s, Kamberg, a house for the Vicar and the Church Institute in Mooi River. In fact, Herbert Foster was accused in some quarters of getting the parish into debt. In March 1907, some months after he left the parish, he wrote a detailed letter to the Churchwardens at Mooi River justifying the building program and the resultant parish debts. It was a logical, well-reasoned explanation of the need for these churches and buildings and proof that the relatively small debts incurred in the case of each church were justified and would be easily repaid. He emphasized the valuable assets the Parish was obtaining. One senses a good business brain behind his ecclesiastical building program.

Immediately following Rev. Herbert Foster, was Rev. Samuel Henry Radcliffe Noble MA (1906 – 1919), the longest serving Vicar of Mooi River. His father was Rev. S.H. Noble, Rector of Frolesworth, Leicester. Samuel Noble acquired Rearsby Farm, in the Mooi River district and became part of the social fabric of Mooi River, not just a sojourning minister, and died in 1945 aged 72. He and his wife Mabel, who died in 1931, are buried in St John’s churchyard. Their daughter, Helen Mary Noble, married Robert George Carew Armstrong, a farmer of Vaalkop in 1939.

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