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


Born in 1911, Ronald was the son of a Lincolnshire rector. He attended Marlborough College where he sang in the chapel choir, obtaining a BA in zoology in 1932 from Keble College, Oxford.

Ronald had thought of becoming a medical missionary, but changed his mind and decided to take holy orders, his ordination followed at Lincoln Cathedral in 1935. He was a Minor Canon, Precentor and Sacristan of Peterborough Cathedral from 1939 to 1945, and Rector of St Peter’s, Northampton in 1946. He then became Priest Vicar and Succentor of Truro Cathedral from 1947 to 1957. Revd Sibthorp founded the Association of Minor Canons in 1949, succeeded by the Precentors’ Conference in 1979.

In 1956 he founded the Friends of Cathedral Music.

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,  Ronald 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’.

In the following years he was the Precentor’s Vicar and Subchanter of Lichfield Cathedral during 1957 to 1963, going on to publish his autobiography The Memoirs of a Minor Canon in 1990. Ronald died in 1990 and was survived by his wife Jesse.

Read an appreciation of Ronald Sibthorp by Philip Barrett