Gas 'n Gaiters

The Reverend (later Bishop) Hensley Henson came to Barking as vicar at the tender age of 25. He describes his first meeting with the Churchwardens in Retrospect of an unimportant life [Cambridge University Library 121.2.c.90.50 page 38]

The Churchwardens had undertaken to show me the registers, and the fine Caroline plate in the parish chest, and to explain their system of managing parochial business. As we entered the church a strong smell of escaping gas caused me to ask why they had not called in the services of a gasfitter. "We have had Mr___ several times" was the reply, "but he can't find out where the gas escapes." "Is there no other gasfitter in the parish?" I asked. "Yes" they replied, "but he is an atheist, and Mr ___ is an excellent churchman, and a regular communicant, and, besides, he has always had the church work, and it would give great offence, if he were not employed." "But", I rejoined, "we want a competent gasfitter for this job, not an incompetent saint. For Heaven's sake send for the atheist." They were startled, perhaps scandalized, but they acquiesed. The atheist came, and the nuisance was ended. His technical efficiency was as clear as his theology was unsound.

Later in the same book (page 39) .....

..... Bishop Henson describes how he introduced the Revised Version of the Bible for readings in church: Blomfield (his Suffragan Bishop) "remonstrated" and Claughton (his Diocesan Bishop) "shook his head" - but, as Henson points out, "it was neither illegal nor impolitic".

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