The Link Between Oatlands and Darwin

The first incumbent of St Mary's Church, the Rev. Rolla Charles Meadows Rouse, who was appointed as "Minister of the Chapel of St Mary Oatlands" (it was originally a Chapel to the Church of St Mary, Walton upon Thames), left the village in 1867 after he had seen the building through to its consecration and transfer to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

Rev. Rouse took up the post of Vicar of Southwold, Suffolk and stayed there until 1870 when he was appointed  as the rector of Woodbridge, also in Suffolk. During his time at Southwold he also took up the post of tutor to one Horace Darwin - the fifth son of Charles Darwin, author of "The Origin of Species" and the acknowledged "father" of evolutionist thinking.

Around April 1868, Darwin wrote to Rouse:

"My Dear Sir

Will you be so good as to inform me at what exact date, in about a fortnights time, it will suit you to receive my Son Horace. As you were so good as to say that you had heard from Dr Wrigley, I have not troubled you with his Quarterly characters, which as I have said, have all been as good as possible. As I previously mentioned, he is backward in Classics, but he tells me that he has been getting on better of late. I care about Classics only so far that he may pass his matriculation & afterwards his Little-Go.* For mathematics he has a strong taste, & I suppose is fairly well advanced for his age of 17 years, considering, however, that he formerly lost 3 years from ill-health. As at present advised, & following my sons own wish, I intend that he should try for the degree in the Sciences. I beg leave to call your attention to a singular incapacity for spelling, & should be much obliged, if you would mark in all exercises his mistakes. He is anxious to improve & is ashamed of his ignorance. But the incapacity runs to a certain extent in our blood. I think that you will find my son anxious to please you in all ways, & I do not fear that he will be idle, but rather that he may work too hard.".
divider-generic* Little-go: `the popular name for the first examination for the degree of B.A., officially called “The Previous Examination” at Cambridge’ (Source: Oxford English Dictionary)

Whether Rouse and Darwin ever discussed their differences of perspective is unknown, but Rouse obviously did sterling work with Horace, as he went on to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated with the hoped for B.A. in 1874 and founded the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company in 1885. He became Mayor of Cambridge between 1896 and 1897, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1903 and was knighted in 1918.