About Us

Henry Francis Lyte, once a minister at All Saints wrote the popular hymn 'Abide with me'. Here is a short resume of Rev Lyte's life.  

In 1817 Lyte became a curate in Marazion, Cornwall, and there met and married Anne Maxwell, daughter of a well-known Scottish-Irish family. She was 31, seven years older than her husband and a "keen Methodist." Furthermore, she "could not match her husband's good looks and personal charm." Nevertheless, the marriage was happy and successful. Anne eventually made Lyte's situation more comfortable by contributing her family fortune, and she was an excellent manager of the house and finances. They had two daughters and three sons, one of whom was the chemist and photographer Farnham Maxwell-Lyte. A grandson was the well known historian Sir Henry Churchill Maxwell-Lyte.

From 1820 to 1822 the Lytes lived in Sway, Hampshire. Itself only five miles (8 km) from the sea, the house in Sway was the only one the couple shared during their marriage that was neither on a river or by the sea. At Sway Lyte lost a month-old daughter and wrote his first book, later published as Tales In Verse Illustrative of the Several Petitions of the Lord's Prayer (1826). In 1822 the Lytes moved to Dittisham, Devon, on the River Dart and then, after Lyte had regained some measure of health, to the small parish of Charleton

About April 1824, Lyte left Charleton for Lower Brixham, in Devon a fishing village.Almost immediately, Lyte joined the schools committee, and two months later he became its chairman. Also in 1824, Lyte established the first Sunday school in the Torbay area and created a Sailors' Sunday School. Although religious instruction was given there, the primary object of both was educating children and seamen for whom other schooling was virtually impossible. Each year Lyte organised an Annual Treat for the 800–1000 Sunday school children, which included a short religious service followed by tea and sports in the field.

Shortly after Lyte's arrival in Brixham, the minister attracted such large crowds that the church had to be enlarged—the resulting structure later described by his grandson as "a hideous barn-like building." Lyte added to his clerical income by taking resident pupils into his home, including the blind brother of Lord Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, later British prime minister.