Reverend Charles Cobb – Real Life Hero and Long Serving Vicar of Rainham

Born in 1828 and the son of Captain Thomas Cobb of New Romney, he lived until 90 years old and became one of the oldest clergy in the country. He served as vicar of Rainham for 32 years from 1876 to 1908 and became one of the most popular and well respected clergymen to have worked the parish.

Charles Cobb entered the holy orders in 1853 after he had obtained his MA degree at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. After this he held curacies at Halstead, St Nicholas-at-Wade, Lambeth and Minster Sheppey. In 1860 he was appointed Rector at Dymchurch where he remained for sixteen years.

While serving in Dymchurch he carried out a heroic act for which he gained widespread praise and fame. ‘The Sunday Pictorial’ dated 29th March 1936, reported that during a fierce gale on January 5th 1867 a French lugger named ‘Corrier de Dieppe’ which had been blown badly off course got wrecked on Dymchurch Sands. The coastguards tried to fire a lifeline aboard to rescue the crew but it fell short. After this three of the crew were washed into the sea and drowned but one sailor remained clinging to the rigging. A coastguard named John Batist tried to battle his way to the wreck in rough sea and strong wind but failed. Reverend Cobb, a powerful swimmer, arrived and against the wishes of some parishioners who were also present he took off his coat, dived into the sea and swam to the wreck where he reached the stranded sailor. Soon after this Batist, the coastguard, also reached the vessel and helped Reverend Cobb haul the sailor to safety.

For his act of heroism Reverend Cobb received many awards which included a gold medal from The National Lifeboat Institution in 1867 and the Albert Medal from Napoleon 111 of France. He later had a photograph of himself wearing his medals with a framed certificate from the National Lifeboat Association displayed on the wall at Rainham vicarage. John Batist who had assisted in the rescue received a bronze medal.

Later in 1876 Charles Cobb became vicar of Rainham and got fully involved in the church and local activities. During the late 1870s and early 1880s he played as a successful opening batsman for Rainham Cricket Club and also made many friends in the parish.

After his wife died in 1903 Reverend Cobb continued as vicar of Rainham until 1908 then resigned. Reverend Tamplin succeeded him and married his daughter. Reverend Cobb continued to reside at the vicarage and maintained a role at the church taking services when his health allowed him to do so. He regularly presided over intercession services in the church during World War 1. Held in high esteem during the time he resided in Rainham, he died in 1918 and was buried in the churchyard.

After his death the parishioners of Rainham, as a mark of respect and recognition of his services, presented the church with a new communion table and a communion plate in his memory. David Wood.

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