Saint Giles has a Saint in the Churchyard. It has a Prime Minister too – Harold Macmillan
– but Archbishop Robert Leighton buried there 1684 and commemorated 26th June in
the church calendar has first place. To mark a focus on Leighton in 2015 his tomb
and wall plaque have been cleaned by J Gumbrill through a donation.
Called affectionately “The little bishop” he devoted the last decade of his life
to praying, preaching and visiting the poor and sick of Horsted Keynes having spent
forty years carrying the torch of peaceable Christian faith during tumultuous times
which saw both the loss and restoration of kings and bishops.
Believe, and you shall love, he wrote. Believe much, and you shall love much. Robert
Leighton’s deep rooting in Christ gave him love to help deal with church divisions
in the Scotland of his day where he served as Presbyterian minister and afterwards
as Anglican Bishop in Dunblane, where his library is still used, and Archbishop of
Glasgow, before retiring to live with his sister Sapphira at Broadhurst Manor.
Seek Jesus, fear not, you will certainly find him Leighton wrote and in him all things.
He described Christian life as ‘angelic’ spent between ascending in prayer to fetch
blessings from above and descending to scatter them amongst those in need of help
and consolation below. To Leighton prayer looks to God as the most faithful and powerful
friend, the richest and most loving father.
We thank God for ‘the little Bishop of Horsted Keynes’ who will be focus of our Lent
course and ask him to raise up for our own tumultuous age such peaceable servants
of truth and holiness.