A RECTOR from Dorset whose body was discovered washed up on a
beach on Monday of last week is thought to have drowned during a
150-mile seaborne pilgrimage to Cornwall.
The Revd Bob Thorn (above), Team Rector in the
eight-church Bride Valley benefice in the diocese of Salisbury, set
off for a beach near Falmouth in a ten-foot rowing boat in
February. He was believed to have been on his way back to Dorset
when his boat and, later, his body were washed ashore near Seatown,
a few miles from his home in Burton Bradstock.
Dorset Police said that there were no suspicious
The Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Revd Graham Kings, said that Mr
Thorn's death was a tragedy. "Bob wasn't an ordinary vicar: he was
an extraordinary one - a one-off," he said. "He died as he lived,
enjoying spiritual adventures. His Bible was found in his
A spokesman for the diocese of Salisbury said that Mr Thorn had
been keen on rowing and spending time alone. "He was really into
Celtic spirituality, and very much into rowing off to places,
praying, and rowing back again," he said.
The Archdeacon of Dorset, the Ven. Paul Taylor, said: "I am
devastated. I knew Bob for ten years. Bob was man of deep principle
and utter integrity. He cared deeply about honesty in
relationships, and about the people and communities he ministered
to in the Bride Valley.
"Bob had a particular commitment to pilgrimage, and saw the
whole of life as a journey towards God - one that should be lived
with the honesty and straightforwardness he held so dear."
Mr Thorn had announced his plans for his pilgrimage in the
parish in October last year. He wrote: "I am taking off to find out
in my own self what the Celtic saints were after when they went off
alone, and sat either rapt in glory, or in a state of holy
grumpiness in either squalid or splendid isolation."
He ended his letter asking his parishioners if they thought he
was mad. "Answers, please, on the back of a piece of seaweed."