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HistoricaLeigh: The Man from the Manse
In 1911 the Manse in Elm Road next to Wesley Methodist Church had just been built and was first occupied by the Rev William John Gregory Bestall. He was the second minister of Wesley Church joining the congregation in 1910.
The Rev Bestall came from Devon and had worked for the church in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In 1887 he was appointed to the Tamil Mission in South Ceylon and began the first industrial school and later an orphanage to provide a home and better prospects for destitute boys who would be educated and found jobs in local mills.
On his return to England the Rev Bestall moved around London, Kent and Essex until settling for his term in Leigh in 1910.
Rev Bestall’s nephew, Alfred Edmeades Bestall, was the creator of Rupert the Bear and wrote and illustrated his adventures in the Daily Express for over 30 years. He also did cartoons for Punch and watercolours for Tatler.
So you could say that Leigh’s Rev Bestall was Rupert’s uncle.