The Capernwray Story

Torchbearers was born out of the devastation of World War II when the spiritual vacuum in the lives of those affected by war, both English and German, was apparent. This need led to the purchase of “Capernwray Hall” in 1946 in Lancashire, just south of the famous Lakes District of northern England. It was in a rundown state, yet became a centre for short term Bible Schools in the winter and a Bible conference programme in summer. (Since that time Capernwray Hall has been restored to its former glory as a 19th century mansion set in 175 acres of parkland).  It was German youth who came in those early years to Capernwray who began calling themselves the ‘Fackeltraeger’ or carriers of the torch’ Thus in 1947, “Torchbearers” began!


The ministry extended to Europe and now operates in many countries around the world, including England, Germany, Austria, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.S.A., Canada, Indonesia, India, New Zealand, Japan, Costa Rica, Phillipines, Malaysia and Australia. Each of the 26 centres already established is a base centre for evangelistic outreach, intensive short-term Bible School, conferences and camps.

Major Ian Thomas

The founder, Major Ian Thomas, was reared in a “respectable” home but learned little, or nothing of the Bible. He became a Christian at the age of 12. At 15, convinced he should devote himself to the service of Christ, his life became full of ‘Christian Activity’. Major Thomas says, “Out of sheer desire to win souls, to go out and get them, I was a windmill of activity.

Every moment of my day was packed tight with doing things… thus by the age of 19, I had been reduced to spiritual exhaustion, with no hope or reason for going on… then,” Major Thomas explained, “God gave me a message through Galatians 2:20 that Christ was my life!

I got up the next morning to an entirely different Christian life…, but I want to emphasize this: I had not received one iota more than I already had for 7 years.”

“Christ gave Himself for us to give Himself to us! His presence puts God back into the man! He came that we may have life – God’s life…!”


Capernwray Australia sits on 28 acres of land, originally part of the 600 acre Throsby Park grant estate that included the site of Bong Bong, the first settlement in the Southern Highlands, New South Wales. The land was purchased by Mr & Mrs Sanderson. It took Mrs Sanderson months to find the ideal site for her homestead, a depression on the slope of a group of hills commanding a view that stretched across the Wingecarribee River. Built in 1938 the Main House was filled with furniture from all around the world. The Sanderson’s traveled the world  collecting pieces to send back to Australia. Many of these piece are still in place today including the staircase, a mantle from Italy and one from London and tapestries.

The home was sold by the Sanderson’s and purchased by Everitt and Dorothy Hindmarsh (year unknown).

Major Ian Thomas purchased 10 acres of land including the Main House from Dorothy Hindmarsh in November 1970 to be used to further the Torchbearers Ministry. A further 17 acres was purchased in 1973.

Since Capernwray Australia opened its doors in 1972 we have seen over 2,000 students from 35 different countries come to study with us.


The purpose and goal of Capernwray Bible School is to instruct students in the content of Scripture in order that they might discover through the written word the reality of the Living Word; and to provide for each student the opportunity to discover the complete sufficiency of Christ in life and service so as to create an attitude of willing abandonment to Him irrespective of the personal consequences; and to do this in an environment of mutual respect, courtesy and love that models and expresses the character of Christ.



I believe in the triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is God, in equality with the Father, and that by Him, and for Him, the Father created all things.
I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ became man through the miraculous activity of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary.
I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was without sin, and that He, as the Lamb of God without blemish, died willingly in the place of sinners to become the Redeemer of this fallen world. I believe that He is the only Mediator, through whose redeeming Blood and by faith in whom alone we receive the forgiveness of sins.
I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has risen bodily from the dead, that He appeared to His disciples and returned to the Father; that on the day of Pentecost He came in the person of the Holy Spirit to dwell within the hearts of all who had received Him, and thereby established His Body on earth, His Church, the fellowship of all true believers, of which He is the Head.
I believe in God the Holy Spirit, co-equal Member of the Trinity. I believe that He is present in the hearts of all who through faith have received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, and who thereby are born again, children of God, and are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will return to deliver just judgement and to bring all things to completion.
I believe that the Bible, in its entirety, is the revelation of God for mankind, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Finally I declare that I myself am converted, in that as a sinner in need of salvation I have already turned to the Lord Jesus Christ and have received Him as my personal Saviour and Lord. I believe that in accordance with His promise He has accepted me and saved me, not according to my merits, but according to His infinite grace, and that He now lives in me by His Holy Spirit, has given me eternal life, and made me a child of God. I confess Him, The Lord Jesus Christ, as My Saviour, Lord and Life before all men.

Our Staff

Office Manager & Registrar
Ministries Co-ordinator
Property Manager
Catering Manager
Cooks Assistant
Domestic Manager
Dean of Students
Property Assistant