A CDV photograph
of Gilbert Tozer taken by J Russell of 13 High Street Windsor
while Gilbert Tozer was resident organist at The Parish Church
Gilbert Tozer was organist
at Windsor Parish Church for just four years in the 1890s. By
1897, at the age of 23, he and his brothers and sisters had died
of tuberculosis or 'consumption' as it was known in Victorian
times. Judging by the tributes to Gilbert that were published
at the time, he was an accomplished musician, and much admired
and respected by those who knew him.
The following article was
published about Gilbert in the Windsor Parish Magazine.
GILBERT WILLIAM TOZER
(Entered into rest, September l7th, 1897)
A sudden silence fell upon the
choir of the Parish Church as they assembled for their weekly
practice. The news had just been conveyed to them that they must
give up all hope of seeing their organist again at his post.
We thought of him sadly as we practised the hymn, 'For ever with
the Lord,' which happened to have been set down for practice
without any thought of the special significance. And at half-past
nine on that Friday evening the end came - strangely and beautifully
enough, at the moment when we were singing the words of the Harvest
"O blessed is that
land of God
Where saints abide for ever!"
Next day the sad news arrived;
and on Sunday reference was made by the various preachers to
the loss of one who had done so much - more than his strength
warranted - for the parish of Windsor. Our thoughts went back
to that memorable Sunday evening when he crowned his work. Nothing
but an indomitable will and an unparalleled sense of duty and
love of work could have carried him through. He conducted the
Festival Te Deum with all his accustomed fire and energy.
There was no weakness - no faltering - no loss of his carefully
planned 'effects.' Band and chorus responded to his inspiration
and the result was a veritable triumph. It was a fitting end
to his career.
Since that day, anxious friends have followed with
painful interest the varying bulletins from his home at Romford.
Hopes were entertained that a change of climate might prolong
a useful life: but it was not to be.
His funeral on Thursday last was just such as he
would have wished it to be. This we know, for one of our reminiscences
of him is that he had very decided ideas as to the arrangements
appropriate to such an occasion. About a year ago he was saddened
by the death, by drowning, of two intimate friends. The family
were stricken with grief and nearly all the arrangements fell
to him. He took a characteristic amount of trouble to ensure
that everything should go smoothly, and that the service should
be as reverent and appropriate as it was possible to make it.
And now it was his turn to be carried forth to his last resting-place.
The first part of the funeral service was conducted in the Parish
Church, Romford. The Vicar of Windsor, the Vicar of St. Peter's,
Eaton Square (where Mr. Tozer was Assistant-Organist before coming
to Windsor) were present, along with the Vicar of the Parish.
From the Church the funeral procession passed along the main
street to the cemetery. The townsmen were present in great numbers,
for the sympathy was widespread, and many shops were closed,
and blinds drawn, along the route to the grave. Twelve of our
own choir boys had been taken by our Vicar to pay their last
respects, on behalf of the whole choir, to one whom they loved,
and to whom they owed so much. They brought with them a wreath
which had been subscribed to by the boys themselves. The hymns
sung were, "O God, our help in ages past " - the last
hymn played by Mr. Tozer in Windsor - and that most appropriate
of all hymns, "On the Resurrection norning," which
expresses so fitly the true Christian's attitude on the subject
of death. The sympathy of the parishioners was attested by the
numerous floral tributes. Crosses of white flowers were sent
by the congregation, by the clergy and by many personal friends
of the deceased. Two of the Churchwardens, Messrs. Dewe and Bedborough,
had charge of the tribute sent by the congregation. Flowers,
however are a very transient memorial, and we are glad to know
that something more permanent is to be erected. But, for those
who knew Gilbert Tozer, his chief memorial will be his inspiring
example, and the love and enthusiasm which he put into his work.
Edith Tozer, who
looked strikingly like Gilbert. She died of TB too.
Ellen Tozer who
nursed Gilbert and her other brothers and sisters until their
deaths of TB