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,  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’.
  • 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