Monday, August 15, 2016

A totally preposterous parson . . .

A new study of Evelyn Waugh and the first vicar of St Jude's

A Totally Preposterous Parson: Evelyn Waugh and Basil Bourchier

Basil Bourchier was once one of the most famous clergymen in the Church of England, held in the highest esteem by the many hundreds who flocked from all parts of London to hear him preach, and the many more who followed his doings and opinions in the press.

In 1907 he was appointed the first vicar of Hampstead Garden Suburb, an experimental community in which the social classes would live together in attractive housing and semi-rural surroundings.  The parish inevitably attracted Bohemian and radically minded residents keen to campaign for and debate the issues of the day such as women’s suffrage, animal rights and spiritualism.  Bourchier played a leading part in these discussions and took them to a wider audience through his journalism, books and radio broadcasts.

At the beginning of the First World War he accompanied a women’s medical unit to Belgium where he was arrested and sentenced to death as a spy.  The last minute intervention of a German officer who had visited the Garden Suburb as part of a pre-war town-planning delegation brought about his reprieve.  

Bourchier would probably be forgotten today if it were not for a few lines in Evelyn Waugh’s A Little Learning in which he is ridiculed as “a totally preposterous parson”.  Waugh had been a regular worshipper at Bourchier’s church from shortly after it opened in 1910 and was confirmed there in 1916.  His father, Arthur, was a leading member of the congregation and its various committees, and became a friend and publisher of Bourchier.

By the time of A Little Learning (1964) Waugh had been a Roman Catholic for over thirty years and had long since come to think of the Church of England as an essentially ‘bogus’ institution. Bourchier himself had died in 1934 at the age of 53.

Biographers of Waugh invariably repeat the 1964 portrait as if it were an accurate account of Waugh’s youthful opinion of his vicar.  Alan Walker (the current vicar of Hampstead Garden Suburb) reconsiders Waugh’s statements in the light of the church’s records and suggests the author actually had a much warmer and more positive opinion of Bourchier – and indeed of the Church of England.  He corrects several errors and misunderstandings about Bourchier and his ministry, and goes on to look at the clergyman’s later career and final downfall.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Services in August

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

from the Bishop of London

Bishop of London's crest and motto: Amor Vincit Omnia

To all the people of God in the Diocese of London
19th July 2016
Dear Friends
It has been a privilege and a delight to serve in the Diocese of London as priest and bishop for well over thirty years.   I have seen confidence return and church life revive.   The recently circulated progress report on Capital Vision 2020 is an eloquent testimony to a renewed confidence in the gospel, more strenuous compassion and more extensive service of our neighbours in the most diverse city on earth, together with burgeoning creativity.   At the same time the annual accounts reveal that we have ended the financial year in balance for the tenth year in succession.
No bishop could wish for more inspiring partners in the gospel, both among the clergy and laity of the Diocese. Regular visits to St Mellitus College are also a huge encouragement. There are more than 200 talented candidates for the priesthood training in the London centre of the college, with flourishing work on Merseyside and other places in England and even overseas.  Work begins on a hub in Kuala Lumpur this September.
It has been a blessing to serve with a diocesan team of bishops, archdeacons and those who work at Causton Street, whose gifts are so diverse but who are united in their zeal for generous orthodoxy.
For my part, I have tried to follow the example of St Augustine who said, “For you I am a bishop but with you I am a Christian”, and in this spirit I hope you will forgive my many shortcomings in office.
After consultation with the Archbishop I am writing to let you know about the timetable for my retirement.   It is business as usual until Christmas, after which I shall hope to clear my desk of more than twenty years’ worth of accumulated debris. The intention is that my last public engagement as Bishop of London will be in the Cathedral at Candlemas, February 2nd 2017, the day when Simeon was granted a vision of Christ in the Temple and prayed “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.”    My formal resignation will be dated from the end of the month on Shrove Tuesday.
Her Majesty the Queen has graciously indicated that I should remain as Dean of HM Chapels Royal until the appointment of the 133rd Bishop of London.
I have received so many signs in prayer and in the life of the Diocese that my period as Bishop of London is drawing to a close.   I have every confidence in the Diocesan Team, and in the leadership of our Archbishop in the challenge of renewing and reforming the Church as a servant of reconciliation in these turbulent times.
I look forward to continuing to serve in other roles but it is right that someone who began as a primary school ink monitor should give way to a new Bishop of London more at home in the digital world, and with sufficient time to be able to play a constructive part in the Lambeth Conference planned for 2020.
The important things, however, do not change and I shall be praying for you as you seek to navigate into God’s future under new leadership.
In the meantime I continue to give
thanks for our partnership in the gospel.
The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO DD FSA

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sofia Ostling and Anna Steppler Organ Recital

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Organ Recital Sunday 17 July at 4pm All welcome

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