A short biography of the life of the Revd Ronald Sibthorp (1911-1990), founder of the Friends of Cathedral Music:


  • Born in 1911, the son of a Lincolnshire rector
  • Went to school at Marlborough College where he sang in the chapel choir. Obtained a BA in zoology in 1932 from Keble College, Oxford
  • Thought of becoming a medical missionary, but changed his mind and decided to take holy orders
  • Ordained in Lincoln Cathedral in 1935
  • Minor Canon, Precentor and Sacristant of Peterborough Cathedral from 1939 to 1945
  • Rector of St Peter’s, Northampton 1946
  • Priest Vicar and Succentor of Truro Cathedral from 1947 to 1957
  • Founded the Association of Minor Canons in 1949, succeeded by the Precentors’ Conference in 1979
  • Founded the Friends of Cathedral Music in 1956.
  • Prompted by a decision by the Provost of Southwell to abolish the choral service on Saturdays so that the lay clerks could go and watch the weekly football at Newark, and a similar incident nearly happening at Truro, ┬áRonald Sibthorp set up the FCM ‘so that some means should be found of preventing individual dignitaries from treating the music of their cathedrals in a way which they would never dare to apply to the ancient stained glass of their windows’.
  • Precentor’s Vicar and Subchanter of Lichfield Cathedral from 1957 to 1963
  • Published his autobiography The Memoirs of a Minor Canon in 1990
  • Died in 1990. Ronald Sibthorp was survived by his wife Jesse.

Read an appreciation of Ronald Sibthorp by Philip Barrett