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Platinum Jubilee: The C of E as the new reign began

27 May 2022

A choice by Glyn Paflin from the Church Times of 1952


REGENT STREET REHEARSAL. Miss Dorothy L. Sayers’ play, Christ’s Emperor, the shortened form of her Emperor Constantine, opens at St Thomas’s, Regent-street, on Tuesday. Our picture shows Miss Sayers presiding over a rehearsal of one of the more dramatic moments of the play; the producer, Mr Graham Suter, is seen conferring with her. On the floor of St Thomas’s lies the murdered Crispus (Richard Bennett); Constantine (Ivan Brandt) is on the extreme right. The St Anne’s Arts Group, the company which will perform the play, consists partly of professionals and partly of amateurs. They will present it each night for three weeks, at seven-o’clock, except on Sundays. On Saturdays there will be two performances — one at five, and another at half-past seven. Seats may be reserved; and special arrangements may be made for parties of more than seven people. 1 February 1952

REGENT STREET REHEARSAL. Miss Dorothy L. Sayers’ play, Christ’s Emperor, the shortened form of her Emperor Constantine, opens at St Thomas’s, Regent-s...

“THE present financial famine”, a phrase used by the anonymous writer of the preface to Crockford’s Clerical Directory, dated April 1952, reflected the wider economic background at the beginning of the new reign.

The Conservatives, coming into power with a small majority in autumn 1951, had faced an economic crisis, “caused”, the Church Times explained at the end of the year, “by the fact that the United States is not accepting enough imports to enable the rest of the world to pay for the American goods it needs.

“The Marshall Plan, which came to an end in June, had provided no solution of this problem, though it had achieved the rehabilitation of Europe’s war-shattered economy. The Korean war soon pushed the Western world into a rearmament programme, which fast began to undo the good which the Marshall Plan had done.”

Clergy stipends were failing to keep up with the rising cost of living. In November 1951, Archbishop Fisher had urged the Church Assembly to face the fact that the minimum stipend of beneficed clergy needed to be £500 p.a., plus a house and official expenses; nearly half of them, some 6000, were receiving less. But the Crockford writer for 1952 opined that the only satisfactory minimum was £600; and to achieve this, more than £1 million would be needed annually. The position of the Welsh clergy was worse; and clergy pensions were also inadequate.

Further, rectifying a shortfall in the clergy training budget could mean at least doubling diocesan apportionments in the Church Assembly’s estimates for the coming year. In the midst of this, the Church Times offered its helping hand, and introduced its first Train-A-Priest (TAP) Fund appeal, under its short-lived title of “Ember Pence”.

Although the C of E was easily still the largest show on the road ecclesiastically, a survey published in 1951, English Life and Leisure, by Seebohm Rowntree and R. G. Laver, had put the Church Times on the defensive by painting a depressing picture of church attendance and attitudes to religion.

Although the figures and their interpretation were disputed, the study of churchgoing in York suggested that the percentage of the population attending any place of worship had been three times greater in 1901 than in 1948, and that in the latter year, 4.5 per cent had attended an Anglican church. The number of Roman Catholic churchgoers had increased to 3073, while the number of Anglicans had fallen to 3384.

Such statistics were a sore point. In 1952, a whole new layer of frost seemed to be descending on Anglican-RC relations, at least in the Church Times (which was already battling reunion schemes with the Free Churches in South India and Ceylon and, as the year developed, something that it portrayed as a rather mystifying unsoundness about the sacraments on the part of Archbishop Fisher).

A new edition of Salmon’s The Infallibility of the Church reopened controversy between “Roman Catholics and English Churchmen”; The Hidden Stream was judged arrogant and unworthy of its author, Mgr Ronald Knox, in a review by Douglas Feaver (unsigned, as most then were); and, in October, the Editor announced a series of extracts from a new book, Why I Am Not a Roman Catholic, by K. N. Ross, Vicar of All Saints’, Margaret Street, in London.

But good news: paper rationing was being relaxed. One consequence was two impressive new special teaching supplements, which readers must have welcomed: for Lent, and on the care of the sick and the ministry of healing.

Here are a few other snapshots of C of E concerns in 1952 from our archive:

Individual mystic

WAITING ON GOD. By Simone Weil. (Routledge, 12s. 6d.)

This is the first book of Simone Weil’s to be translated from the French. She was a teacher of philosophy, who died in England in 1943 at the age of thirty-four. Her works are already popular in France, and this book gives a good insight into her thought and her attitude towards life. . .

4 January [unsigned review by Jack Westlake]

Collins on the creeds

THE secular Press has recently given prominence to a strange utterance of Canon Collins, of St Paul’s. Last week he told his audience, at a lecture, that organized religion is the enemy of freedom. As if that were not enough, he proceeded to state his belief that the Church makes “the gravest possible error” in demanding that a member of the Church must subscribe to the creeds. This demand, he said, is “utter nonsense and wholly irreligious”. . .

Leader comment, 11 January

Swedish report

IT IS reported from Sweden that Archbishop Brilioth of Upsala, Dr Anderberg, Bishop of Visby, and Dr Rudberg, Bishop of Skara, have said, in pastoral letters, that there is no obstacle in principle to the ordination of women, but there are overwhelming practical and oecumenical objections to it. No more precise information has yet reached England. . .

1 February

Church and State

THE Report of the Commission on Church and State . . . deserves close study. Detailed comment on the Commission’s various proposals must wait until the Report is fully debated in the Church Assembly. But one feature of the Report calls for immediate notice. The Commission describes how, in Scotland, the “Establishment” of the Presbyterian Church is coupled with complete spiritual autonomy. The Scottish arrangement proves conclusively that “there is, in principle, no inconsistency between the national recognition of religion and the spiritual independence of the Church.” . . .

Summary, 1 February

God rest His Majesty

KING GEORGE VI died peacefully, in his sleep, in the early hours of Wednesday morning. God rest his soul!

The news was received by the Church and the nation with profound sorrow. Soon, men and women, by ones and twos, later (when the news was more widely spread) in a constant stream, entered the cathedrals and churches of the land, to pray individually, or to join in the commendatory services which were quickly arranged. . .

8 February

Play by Christopher Fry

IN THE FIRSTBORN, Mr Christopher Fry has exercised his talent, as poet and dramatist, in setting forth the conflict of wills between Moses and Pharaoh. The result is to be seen in the production (at the Winter Garden Theatre), with which Mr Alec Clunes has essayed a public extension, as it were, of the Arts Theatre Club. (He has, for long, been its main animating force.)

Mr Fry has been fortunate in his interpreters, and particularly in having Mr Clunes to impersonate the prophet. His noble bearing and magnificent virility are perfectly at one with the words and situations which the author, in fulness of creative power, has provided.

Review by C. B. Mortlock, 8 February

Reunited dioceses?

THE Dean of Winchester was one of the chief critics of the scheme whereby the old diocese of Winchester was sub-divided in 1927. He believes that the time has come when the dioceses of Winchester and Portsmouth should be reunited. Dr Selwyn has written an article on the subject in the current issue of the Hampshire Review. . .

4 January

Durham to Winchester

THE Queen has nominated the Right Rev. Alwyn Terrell Petre Williams, DD, Bishop of Durham, to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester for election as Bishop of Winchester. This appointment will be received with some surprise, as it is an unusual move from Durham to Winchester. But it will bring great satisfaction to Churchmen in the diocese and country at large — as well as to Wykehamists, who remember with affection and respect the loyalty, understanding, scholarship and common sense of a distinguished headmaster. . .

14 March

Bell recalls conspiracy

THE Bishop of Chichester made a statement, last week-end, concerning an anti-Hitler plot which was organized ten years ago.

On Saturday, the Bishop’s name was mentioned, during an action for slander which was brought against Otto Ernst Remer, at Brunswick, by a German lawyer, Fabian Von Schlabrendorf. . .

The Bishop of Chichester said: “In May, 1942, I was in Stockholm and met two Germans, the more important of whom was Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. They had come from Germany, knowing I was in Sweden, to tell me the details of a movement by some strong anti-Nazi leaders. They gave me full particulars about the members of the conspiracy. . .”

14 March 1952

Soho women

ST PETER’S CHURCH, Piccadilly Circus (Great Windmill Street). Palm Sunday. 10.45 a.m. Procession of Palms and People’s Procession. 11 a.m. High Mass with Sung Gospel. 6 p.m. Rev. Clarence May will preach on WOMEN OF TWILIGHT.

Classified advertisement, 4 April

Factory-worker priest


This is an important book. It is the first account to be written by an Anglican priest of a ministry exercised within the four walls of a factory, while he was working with his hands. Books have been written about French priest-workmen, but this anonymous author points out how different conditions are in the Church of England and the Roman Church in France. . .

10 April [unsigned review by Hugh Montefiore]

Devout politician dies

SIR STAFFORD CRIPPS died in the Bircher-Benner clinic in Zurich on Monday night. He would have been sixty-three yesterday. He died peacefully with Lady Cripps at his side. . .

25 April

New missionary bishop

THE Church Times offers felicitations to a former Editor, on his accession to the episcopate. The Rev. Humphry Beevor has accepted the invitation to become Bishop of Lebombo, in the Province of South Africa. . .

Our readers will support him in his time of preparation, and in his new and exacting ministry with their prayers. He will need them. For there are a hundred and twenty-one congregations in Lebombo. One is European, and self-supporting. The remainder are desperately poor. Economic disasters, such as devaluation, have hit the country hard. Portuguese laws of assembly inflict many further hindrances. . .

16 May

Fisher’s stand against divorce

THIS week, the Archbishop of Canterbury has presented evidence, on behalf of the Church, to the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce. There will be widespread thankfulness among Churchmen that the Church, through its chief minister, has performed an obvious duty in speaking plainly to the public on this subject. . .

The Archbishop’s negative first point — that there should be no further extension of facilities for divorce — is, in fact, a most positive contribution to a right view of the whole subject. This stand against ever-wider divorce facilities is essential in the interests of national well-being. . .

Leader comment, 30 May

sneering tone

THE appearance of a new Crockford is a pleasant, as well as an expensive, event for the clergy of the Church. The price of this year’s issue (105s.) is indeed prohibitive for most clergymen. . .

The anonymous author [of the Preface] disclaims any desire to give offence. If that indeed was his desire, he has been remarkably unsuccessful. It is not merely that he has gone out of his way to express controversial opinions as provocatively as possible.

The right of the Convocations, for instance, to promulgate Canons without the formal assent of the laity is held to be “an absurd anomaly”. Intercommunion with Nonconformist bodies is said to be frustrated only by the Russian-like veto of “an intransigent minority” in the Church. Opposition to the recognition of the Church of South India is dismissed as “bluff”.

But this is not all. The Preface descends to very frequent remarks which read like sneers. Of pensions, it is said that “episcopal human nature may sometimes require a larger inducement to retire.” The care of churches is beyond “the handfuls of people who nowadays assemble in them”. The Church is not helped “by strenuous and prolonged archiepiscopal triumphal progresses in the antipodes.” . . .

Summary, 30 May

Ramsey for Durham

THE Queen has been pleased to nominate to the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral Canon Arthur Michael Ramsey, DD, Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge, for election to the bishopric of Durham. . . The appointment of a Cambridge theologian to be Bishop of Durham is of good omen. The tradition of Lightfoot and Westcott as scholars, pastors, teachers, and accepted interpreters of the Gospel to the sound-hearted and strong-headed people of the County Palatine is worthy to be remembered and repeated. . .

20 June

Dix remained an Anglican

SIR, — Those who knew him intimately will be well aware how difficult it would be to write an adequate biography of the late Dom Gregory Dix. Nevertheless, it is hoped that a memoir may be published. . .

Admirers of his work will be glad to hear that he has left a considerable amount of material, both in scholarship and spirituality, which it is hoped to prepare for publication.

May I take the opportunity of saying that there is no truth whatever in the rumour, fostered by implications in erroneous and misleading reports, in the Catholic Herald and Universe of July 18, that Dom Gregory was received into the Roman Catholic Church before he died.


Nashdom Abbey, Burnham, Bucks.

Correspondence, 8 August

AlamyPolice struggle to hold back the crowd, and cameramen press around the entrance to Caxton Hall, Westminster, London, as the divorced 55-year-old Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, leaves with his new bride after their marriage at the register office. The bride, Clarissa Spencer Churchill, 32, is the niece of the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. The Church Times’s disapproval was noted

CT rocket and backlash

THE marriage this week of the Foreign Secretary, during the lifetime of his wife, whom he divorced in 1950, cannot pass entirely without comment. Mr Eden’s private life is as much his own affair as any other man’s. But high public position is bound to lend a special significance to private actions. . . It is now apparently to be accepted as a matter of course that those who occupy the highest positions in political and public life may break the Church’s law without embarrassment or reproach. It is natural, perhaps inevitable, that when divorce is so rampant in the country as a whole it should also invade every circle of public life. . .

Summary, 15 August

LAST week we stated simply the view of the Church on re-marriage after divorce. We were concerned not, of course, chiefly with a person, but with a principle. Our comments have received wide notice in the national Press. Most of the editorial comment has been hostile. The views of correspondents, both to this paper and to the national dailies, have been divided, with a preponderance in favour of re-marriage after divorce (except for the Manchester Guardian, which states that it has received five letters in support of the Church Times’ view for every one against). This generally hostile reaction was to be expected. . .

Summary, 22 August

‘Too many novices’ at Lund

THE progress of the World Conference of Faith and Order has been accomplished in three great strides over the years — Lausanne, 1927; Edinburgh, 1937; and Lund, 1952. The Conference at Lund is just over: its members are dispersed again to the four corners of the earth, taking with them four Reports — on “Christ and His Church,” “Continuity and Unity,” “Ways of Worship,” and “Inter-communion”. . .

Criticisms of the mechanics of a full-scale conference of three hundred people, a large number of whom are aching to air divergent, often wildly conflicting, views, are easy to frame. Such criticisms were voiced insistently in Lund itself. . . That Reports were produced at all was due to a minor miracle and the weary night hours spent by the drafting committees. . .

The gravest difficulty at Lund was that there were too many novices present. The “oecumenical war-horses”, as the older trained theologians were called, might have cantered far further on the road from Edinburgh to unity, if they had been left to themselves. . .

Leader comment, 5 September

Fisher on ‘intercommunion’

THE address delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury in America on Wednesday deserves the close attention of the Church. There will be widespread agreement with His Grace’s conclusion that the best line of advance towards reunion is the fostering of good relations “between Churches which remain distinct and separate”, rather than hasty schemes of absorption. . .

Another point raised by the Primate will cause surprise. He insisted that the term intercommunion “has nothing at all to do with the sacrament of the Holy Communion”. He wished the word to refer, widely, to “various inter-Church relations”. . .

But another important matter raised by the Primate on this occasion was his statement that “Anglican tradition accepts all baptised persons as within the Catholic Church, and all divisions between them as divisions within that Church.” . . .

Summary, 12 September

Dispute over angel(s)

IN HIS capacity as Chancellor of the diocese of Chichester, Mr MacMorran last week refused permission for the erection of a marble angel over a child’s grave in a churchyard. . .

The Church Information Board . . . was approached by the Press Association for comment on Mr MacMorran’s decision. In reply a spokesman of the Board is reported as making the unfortunate statement that “a belief in angels is not an essential part of Christian belief . . . at most they are symbols.” Ironically enough, this spokesman prefaced his remarks by complaining that Chancellor MacMorran “in the comments he makes about angels has exceeded his brief and gone launching off into theology.” The mote in the Chancellor’s eye is as nothing to the beam in the eye of the official spokesman. . .

Summary, 24 September

Bishops and Nonconformity

LAST week the Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury debated the Report on Church Relations in England. . . Their Lordships appeared to assume, without question, that the main issue between the Church and Nonconformity is episcopacy. They showed no sign of realizing that a far greater issue is the priesthood. . . In last week’s debate, the Bishop of Oxford made one strange remark on confirmation. He said: “The vast majority of the clergy will not willingly let [it] go, unless under urgent necessity.”. . .

Summary, 24 October

C. S. Lewis on ‘canonization’

Sir, — I am, like Mr Eric Pitt, a layman, and would like to be instructed on several points before the proposal to set up a “system” of Anglican canonization is even discussed. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, “saints” are dead people whose virtues have made them “worthy” of God’s “special” love. Canonization makes dulia “universal and obligatory”: and, whatever else it asserts, it certainly asserts that the person concerned “is in heaven”.

Unless, then, the word “canonization” is being used in a sense distinct from the Roman (and, if so, some other word would be much more convenient), the proposal to set up a “system” of canonization means that someone (say, the Archbishops) shall be appointed (a) To tell us that certain named people are (i) “in heaven,” and (ii) are “worthy” of God’s “special” love, (b) To lay upon us (under pain of excommunication?) the duty of dulia towards those they have named.

Now it is very clear that no one ought to tell us what he does not know to be true. . .

Magdalen College, Oxford.

Correspondence, 24 October

IT IS a pity that Mr C. S. Lewis has confined himself, in his letter, to raising certain difficulties. . . The difficulties which he advances may be inherent in the Roman system of canonization. But there is no need to assume, as Mr Lewis seems to do, that the Church of England must needs copy modern Roman methods — in which, indeed, there are grave defects. . .

Summary, 24 October

Duchesses at large

ABOUT three thousand members of the Mothers’ Union from all parts of the British Isles and of the Commonwealth met in the Royal Festival Hall on Thursday afternoon for a young wives’ rally. The rally was opened by the Duchess of Gloucester, who was presented with two tins of sweets, chocolates and toffees, “specially chosen for boys,” as gifts from the young wives to her sons. . .

THE Duchess of Kent laid the foundation-stone of the new Cathedral of St Thomas, Kuching, diocese of Borneo, on Wednesday of last week. It will replace the old St Thomas’s, built in 1849 by Francis MacDougall, six years before his consecration as the first Bishop of the diocese of Labuan and Sarawak — as it was then called. . .

The Duchess spoke at the ceremony: “The greatest need of to-day is for a return to the humble way of faith which is the only sure foundation on which life can be built. We live, and have been living, in an age of destruction and death; even to-day men’s minds are focused on a struggle to maintain existence and to avoid yet another ghastly tragedy of world dimensions. A new cathedral breathes the spirit of new birth, of new life, which should fill us all with rejoicing and thanksgiving. It brings us hope, a vision of triumph and victory.”. . .

24 October

The RAF Mission

ELSEWHERE in this issue, the Bishop of Croydon expresses his confidence that this month’s Mission to the RAF has done great good. Numerical attendance at meetings in the Forces is not always a reliable guide to genuine interest: the element of compulsion, indirect as well as direct, is apt to affect appearances. But the discovery of confirmation candidates in considerable numbers is a really encouraging sign. Clearly, the men and women in the RAF are willing and ready to extend a hearing to the Christian Gospel. . .

Summary, 14 November

Coronation Oath discussed

IT HAS been left to a Welsh Bishop to make the plainest public declaration for some time of the Catholic nature of the Church of England. The Bishop of Monmouth’s sermon on this subject . . . is a notable corrective to persistent propaganda and hazy misunderstandings. . . We hope that one practical result will follow from the Bishop of Monmouth’s sermon in Westminster Abbey. It should stimulate the authorities to make known very soon the details of the Coronation rite, including the Sovereign’s Oath, which will be used next June. . .

Summary, 21 November

‘Accurate and euphonious’

THE Revised Standard Version of the Bible is a work of major importance. It is the splendid result of twenty years of co-operation among American scholars. But its influence will be far wider than the world of scholarship. For, unlike many modern translations, it is intended for public worship as well as private use. . .

Signed review by Hugh Montefiore, 21 November

Approaches to the Methodists

IN THE recent debate in the Upper House of Convocation of Canterbury on The Report on Church Relations in England, it was resolved that in due course the possibility should be considered of direct discussions with one particular Non-conformist body. That body is to be the Methodist Church. A peculiar interest, therefore, attaches to the issue of the findings of the Methodist Faith and Order Committee on the Report. . . They show clearly how great a distance still unhappily separates the convictions of representative Methodists and the traditional standpoint of the Church. The Methodist Committee maintains that “the Methodist Church would betray its heritage in accepting episcopacy as essential to the life of the Church.” . . .

Summary, 28 November

Gospels in modern English


Fr Phillips’s “Letters to Younger Churches” achieved well-deserved success as a modern version of the New Testament Epistles. . . But his task in the Gospels is more difficult than in the Epistles, and his success is not so spectacular. He has nearly succeeded in being brilliant. . .

28 November [unsigned review by Hugh Montefiore]

AlamyC. E. M. Joad, the philosopher and popular broadcaster on the BBC’s Brains Trust, who had returned to the Church

Joad’s recovery of belief

THE RECOVERY OF BELIEF. By C. E. M. Joad. (Faber and Faber, 15s.)

In his latest and most important book, Dr Joad sets out the reasons which have converted him to “the religious view of the universe in its Christian version”. He writes with his customary candour, and lucidity. But two fresh qualities make their appearance. These are diffidence and humility. Dr Joad speaks of his doubts and reservations, and he closes his book with these words: “On the whole, however, I think that one can subscribe to the testimony of innumerable people who have tried to practise Christianity — the thing does, at least sometimes, work.”. . .

28 November [unsigned review by Hugh Montefiore]

Running for historic churches

LAST Monday, distinguished athletes ran through the streets of London from the Mansion House to St Martin-in-the-Fields. On this occasion they were not running to obtain a corruptible Olympic medal. They ran to bring to the Primate of All England the first gifts made in response to the appeal launched, that day, by the Historic Churches Preservation Trust. This new Trust has been formed to raise £4,000,000 by public subscription, to supplement the efforts of parishes throughout England in putting their churches into good repair. The Trust is under the Sovereign’s patronage. The Trustees include many of the greatest names in contemporary public life. . .

Leader comment, 5 December

Lutheran pros and cons

A REPORT has been issued this week by the Committee appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to hold conversations on behalf of the Church of England with the Lutheran Churches of Denmark, Norway and Iceland. The Lambeth Quadrilateral (scriptures, creeds, the two dominical sacraments and the ministry) was taken as a basis for discussion, and a number of general agreements between the Churches have been recorded. . .

The most far-reaching disagreement concerns the ministry. There is no ordained diaconate in Denmark, Norway and Iceland. The Apostolic succession in the sense understood by the Church of England was surrendered by the Nordic Churches at the time of the Reformation. The present episcopate derives from the consecration of seven bishops for Denmark and Norway in 1537 by the Lutheran Bugenhagen, then parish priest of Wittenberg. . .

Leader comment, 12 December

Schoolboy’s offering

THE bazaar season is at its height. There were several in London last Saturday, and many of them suffered from the deep fog which rendered Londoners stationary for most of the week-end. But I heard a nice story about a bazaar held recently in the country parish of Littlebury, Essex. While it was in progress, a schoolboy, Stacey Loveday, was busy outside with his ferret. At the tea interval, the boy rushed into the village hall with a rabbit, which he presented to the Vicar for auction.

Item in the column The Inside of the Week, by Squirrel Nutkin [Alan Shadwick], 12 December

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