The Rev. Aubrey Fishwick

The Right Reverend Aubrey Fishwick had been the vicar of Little Hope for as long as anyone could remember.  Village rumour had it that he was actually so old that he'd fought at Waterloo, although this nugget of information may have had its origins in an altercation with a porter on platform 3 of the station with the same name in 1932.  Either way, nobody alive in 1939 had ever come across another vicar in St Candida's vestry and it was pretty much taken for granted that nobody ever would...

Harvest Festival was almost upon them and once again the vicar was having a preparatory tug in the vegetable patch...

Penny was adamant that the oncoming train wasn't on the map...

"Two stiff gins, please!" cried Mrs Fox as soon as the all clear sounded. Rev Fishwick was more relieved that he'd remembered to lock the communion wine away than he was at having escaped Jerry's latest homicidal jaunt.

At some point in time, some poor sod was going to have to tell Mrs Fox that her undergrowth needed a bit of a trim...

When little Fanny the kitchen maid went down with galloping impetigo, Mrs Fox was only too pleased to jump in and help the vicar out. One look at the glazed expression on Mrs Fox's face however, reminded the reverend gentleman of rumours that she was still wanted for War Crimes in an enemy soup kitchen on the western front in 1917...

Dear lord! Percy had been listening to Harry Roy & His Orchestra again, at this rate it would be reform school for the boy for sure...

Mrs Fox was fairly sure that confiscating Percy's naughty record didn't ought to involve the vicar listening to it behind the hedge...

St Candida's Church, Little Hope

"...The church of St Candida had stood at the end of what would one day be the High Street in Little Hope long before the village proper was there. The Norman church which Langdon now stood surveying like a man on a Grand Tour had been built, according to legend, on the site of an old Saxon wayside chapel which in turn had replaced the rather sparse and battered remains of a Roman temple to a grumpy garden god who clearly hadn’t been averse to a Yorkshire blizzard or two.  The god's determination to just throw a dead badger carcass over his shoulders and sit it out until Spring was first referred to on Christmas Eve 1665 by the vicar who referred to him/it  as ‘Deinde hyeme homo qui fremit’ - or ‘the Winter Man who Growls’  in the left-hand margin of the burial register.

The reason for this having been mentioned in the registers was never made clear, but the general opinion of those who came across the spidery entry in later years also noted the port wine stains next to it and concluded that the vicar of the time had probably been slightly pissed.  Whatever the reason, Christmas Day that very year had bought a nasty hoar frost and extra payment for two shivering gravediggers who had three holes to gouge out of the frozen earth without so much as a flaming candle to warm their stiff hands on.  By the following morning both gravediggers were dead (of cold or annoyance presumably) and took possession of two of the three graves, the attitude of the relatives of the intended occupants of said graves wasn’t recorded, presumably on account of the vicar’s post communion hangover.


Over the centuries (aside from a noseless effigy of the Winter Man),  three roman coins, a bull’s hoof with teeth marks in and what may (or may not) have been the sole remaining tessera (in pale blue) from a first century bath house turned up in the vicarage garden, the latter being attached to the root system of a particularly splendid carrot which had gone on to be nicknamed Carrot Augustus and had won best of show at the Little Hope village fete in 1932. The tessera had ultimately been used to plug a crack in the wall above the Belfast sink in the vicar’s kitchen and the coins were displayed in a glass topped cabinet in the vestry along with a shoe heel which probably didn’t actually belong to Charles I, a rather poor copy of Gerlach Flicke’s portrait of that miserable looking  sod Thomas Cranmer and what was purported to be the bottom left hand corner of page six of the prayer book of Annis Bebb, a local unfortunate who had met a particularly grisly end in the marketplace at York for calling the Pope a congenital onanist of epic proportions..."

 

(©J Warrington 2017)

From 13th June 1940 until 25th April 1943 (Easter Sunday), the ringing of church bells across Britain was banned and clappers were muffled left, right and chelsea.  It was decreed by the government that the bells were only to be rung if the invasion came and people needed to ready themselves for the ensuing melee. 

Bells which had rang out for centuries sat gathering dust and pigeon poo as the country waited...

...when the ban was finally lifted and campanologists across Britain began tugging away at their clappers again, the Archbishop of York was most relieved.  On 31st March he had addressed the House of Lords thus: 

 

 "...For nearly three years 12,000 parishes have had their bells silenced, in case in one of these parishes there might come from the air a certain number of Germans. There have been three exceptions. On one occasion certain bells were rung by mistake; the bells were rung to celebrate the victory in Egypt, and they were rung again last Christmas. But with these exceptions, for nearly three years no bells have been rung to summon the people to worship, no bells have been pealed at weddings, no bells have been tolled for the dead, no bell has been rung at the induction of a new incumbent, no bells have been rung from college chapels. All over the country, there has come a silence to our bells. There are, of course, some people who hate bells and they will regard the silence of the bells as one of the only alleviating compensations of the war. But the great majority of people deplore the silence of the bells. We who are members of the Church of England regret most deeply that our bells a re not allowed to be used in the tradition al way to summon people to worship. It is, however, not only members of the Church of England. There are large numbers of people who are not greatly interested in Church matters who miss the bells, and that is especially so in the country districts. Psychologically I am quite certain this silence of the bells has a very bad effect on the people..."

 

Unfortunately no one thought to tell my dad, who was ten at the time, that the ban had been lifted. He heard church bells ringing out across the fields in 1943 and ran home screaming "The germans are coming! the germans are coming!"
fortunately, his father was better informed...

Someone had been stoically testing the new bottles of Communion wine...

 © 2019 J. Warrington. All Rights reserved.