Sunday, 22 July 2018

Faith of Our Fathers – Part 8












The local historian G.R. Balleine was also a clergyman, and in 1940, at the outbreak of the Second World War, he penned a series of 52 lessons around the Apostle’s Creed. Balleine being first a foremost a historian, there’s a lot of history there that I’ve never come across before, and I have studied church history quite a lot.

He’s also master of the pithy anecdote or illustration to bring something to life, which is why Frank Falle says the original history, flowing freely, is a better book to read that its more worthy revisions. Joan Stevens was a fair historian, but she could not write nearly as well as Balleine, who has an almost intimate chatty style.

The last paragraph I think rather dates the piece - while exorting social reform, Balleine also exorts foreign missions (a very Kipling like imperialist idea ("lesser breeds") which had been rightly abandoned between 1942 to 1963 by Max Warree of CMS. And there is also the reference to Temperance Reform, although it could be argued that governments concerns about a society where alcohol is too freely available and alcoholism is a major problem, is picking up on some of the same concerns.

I’m hoping to put some or all of this book online on Sundays.

Faith of Our Fathers – Part 7
By GR Balleine

LESSON VI.

The Christship of Jesus

Christ

PASSAGE TO BE READ : St. Mark viii. 27-30.

TEXT TO BE LEARNT : "We believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ "(St. John vi. 69).

AIM : To lead the children to look forward to the coining of Christ's Kingdom.

HYMNS : " Thy Kingdom come," and " Hail to the Lord's Anointed."

APPARATUS : Picture of St. Peter's Confession.

HOMEWORK: Make a list of of ways in which life would be different, if we were living in Christ's Kingdom.

THOUGHT FOR TEACHERS : The name " Christian " labels us as men who believe in a Messiah, in Someone Who is able to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.- C. Jones.

1. ART THOU THE CHRIST? (Luke xxii. 67.)

(a) When our Lord was a Baby, Joseph and Mary gave Him the Name of Jesus. This was His only Name through His boyhood and early manhood. But, after He began to preach, his disciples added a title to His Name, and called Him Jesus Christ.

In the ancient world, titles general came after, not before, a name. Caesar, for example, means Emperor so, when a man was made Emperor, he added it to his name, e.g. Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Tiberius Caesar. In the East to-day, where we speak of General Gordon, an Egyptian says Gordon Pasha ; where we speak of Mr Jones, an Indian says Jones Sahib. Remember that Christ was never our Lord's Name. It was a title that His disciples gave Him.

(b) What did that title mean ? " Christos " is the Greek word for the Hebrew title "Messiah." So, when the disciples called our Lord " Christ," they really called Him the Messiah. This was the name that the Jews had given to the great Deliverer Whom they expected to appear. For centuries they had served and worshipped the one true God, yet for centuries they had been crushed and persecuted by the heathen. They felt thatt this kind of thing could not go on for ever. Sooner or later God must vindicate His honour, reward the Jews for their faithfulness, and punish the heathen for their blasphemies.

Prophet after prophet had encouraged them to believe this. How exactly this would happen, they were not quite so certain. Some thought that there would be a great war in which the Jews would conquer the world. Others expected a sudden supernatural upheaval in which God would destroy the heathen. But all agreed that nothing could happen, till the right Leader came, a descendant of King David, Who would lead them to victory, and organize the new Kingdom of God. And they gave to this long-expected Liberator-Who-was-to-come the name of the Messiah or the Christ, Hebrew and Greek words which meant the Anointed One.

(c) For many generations every one had been wondering when this Christ would appear. "I know," said the Samaritan woman at the well, "that Messiah cometh, which is called the Christ. When He is come, He will declare unto us all things " (John iv. 25). Old Simeon believed that he would not die until " he had seen the Christ " (Luke ii. 26). When the Baptist began to preach, " all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ" (Luke iii. 15) ; but " he confessed, I am not the Christ " (John i. 20).

As soon as Jesus began His ministry a hot discussion arose as to whether He was the Messiah. Some said, " When the Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than those which this Man hath done ? " (John vii. 31). But others asked, " Shall the Christ come out of Galilee ? " (John vii. 41). Eventually the mass of the people decided that He was not the Messiah. He was so utterly unlike the kind of Christ that they had been taught to expect. They said He was a Prophet, perhaps even the great Prophet who was to prepare the way for the Messiah, but certainly not the Messiah Himself.

If any were still inclined to play with this idea in their minds, the Rulers threatened to excommunicate them. " The Jews agreed that, if any man did confess that He was the Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue " (John ix. 22). And Jesus did not undeceive them. It would have been too dangerous. If He had declared Himself the Christ, half Galilee would have sprung to arms and begun to massacre the Romans.

II. THOU ART THE CHRIST (Mark viii. 29).

(a) His disciples, however, felt sure that He was the Christ. The first time St. Andrew met Him, lie went to fetch his brother saying, " We have found the Messiah, that is to say the Christ " (John i. 41).

Stronger and stronger the conviction grew in their minds, though Jesus Himself apparently never said anything about it. At last one day He asked them, saying, " Who say ye that I am ? " Peter unhesitatingly declared, " Thou art the Christ." (Read Passage.)

Jesus did not contradict him. On the contrary He replied, " Blessed art thou, Simon, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in Heaven " (Matt. xvi. 17). Yet even then " He charged His disciples that they After His should tell no man that He was the Christ " (Matt. xvi. 20).

(b) After his resurrection this became one of the earliest articles in the Church’s Creed and one of the constant topics of the Apostles' preaching. St. Paul at Corinth " testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ " (Acts xviii. 15). At Thessalonica he declared, " This Jesus Whom I preach unto you is the Christ " (Acts xvii. 3). St. John indignantly (1 John ii). asked, " Who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ ? "

[Of course, no sane teacher will hurl all these texts at unoffending children's heads. They are quoted for the teacher's own instruction, to make quite clear that " Christ " is not a meaningless surname, but a title with a very important controversial doctrinal significance.

For the children teachers will draw a vivid picture of every one discussing whether Jesus was the Messiah : the people eventually deciding No : but the disciples deciding Yes, and going out to preach their faith with passionate enthusiasm.]

III. WHAT THE CHRISTSHIP MEANS FOR US.

(a) What has all this to do with us ? To a Jew no doubt it was very interesting to know that Jesus was the Messiah Whom his nation had expected so long, but has this any message for us, who have learnt to call him by far higher titles, " God's only Son," " our Lord " ?

(b) If Jesus claimed to be the Messiah Whom the prophets foresaw, it means that, in general outline at any rate, all that they foretold of the Messiah may be expected to come true of Jesus. First and foremost the Messiah was to triumph and to reign. In many ways Jesus appeared to fail. The multitudes deserted Him. His own disciples forsook Him. He was crucified. Even today the greater part of the world is nonChristian. His enemies seem stronger than His friends. When we sing " Jesus shall reign where'er the sun doth its successive courses run," we get that hope largely from Old Testament pictures of the Messiah.

(c) The Messiah was to reign in this world, not in some future Heaven beyond the skies. This is important. People sometimes talk as though our Lord simply came to die in order that His people might be happy in Heaven. He Himself clearly believed that He was the promised Christ, Who was to establish a Kingdom of Heaven in this world. It gives us a wonderful hope for the future. Evil will not always flourish.

This poor old world of ours will some day see the prophets' hope fulfilled ; a Kingdom of Righteousness, where tyranny, injustice and wrong shall cease and men shall do right out of love for their righteous King ; a Kingdom of Peace, where men shall beat their swords into pruning hooks and shall learn war no more ; a Kingdom of Joy, where life shall no longer be full of grief and pain : "The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy." "He shall reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet."

(d) But we must not fall into the Jewish mistake, and think only of a Deliverer Who will do something for us. We believe in a Deliverer Who wants to do something in us and through us ; not merely to change our surroundings, but to change ourselves. Christ must first reign in our hearts, before He can reign in the world. His will and not our own must rule our lives. The Kingdom must first come in us; then it must come through us. It will not come, as the Jews expected and some Second Adventists still expect, by any supernatural upheaval, but by the steady faithful work of those who accept Jesus as King.

We must throw more and more strength into the work of Foreign Missions, till all nations bow before Him. We must make stronger and stronger the work of His Church at home, till every stubborn and frivolous life acknowledges Jesus as King. We must help every movement, e.g. Temperance Reform, Social Reform, that makes it easier for people to be good and lessens temptation. It is sheer hypocrisy to say in the Creed that we believe in Jesus as the Christ, unless we are trying in every way to hasten His Messianic Kingdom.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

In Time of Drought












We are now officially in a time of drought, but rain is promised. That is the subject of this topical poem.

In Time of Drought

Dry and dusty is the earth
Cloudless ever are the skies
Land is awaiting for rebirth
Withering the flower lies

Hot and humid is each hour
Even warm thoughout the night
Hill and vale and tree and flower
Dying now in strong sunlight

Rain I crave, and rain I love
Small white cloud as if a child
Joined with others, more above
Pray for rainfall wet and mild

The living waters, life divine
Rain is falling, freely given
Random motion, not design
Yet still feels as tears forgiven.

Friday, 20 July 2018

This is Jersey - 1979 - Part 1

From 1979 comes this holiday guide - "This is Jersey". This is a flat brochure which is larger that the later glossy designs, and it doesn't have nearly as many pages - 16 double sided in all, including front and back covers.

It does provide a very interesting snapshot of the tourism scene in 1979, just as it was more or less at its peak, just before Bergerac launched, and before the package tour market and cheap holiday destinations abroad made Jersey's prices suddenly more expensive and the bottom fell out of the market.

Tourism is today rebuilding a new approach geared to the lifestyle of the modern tourist. It still has plenty to offer, but the old style of tourism probably won't sell today. But here's a chance to capture that flavour.



May I, as President of the Jersey Hotel Guest House Association welcome you to the Island of Jersey where hope you will spend one of the most enjoyable holidays of your life. We, in the Association endeavour to see, that our guests receive only the very best of service coupled with friendly hospitality. We trust this will be to your liking and we shall have the pleasure of welcoming you back on many future occasions.
Mark Cliveley

Notice the brightly coloured brochure, and the advert for Mary Ann! Mary Ann is still brewed, by the Liberation Group at Longueville but back in the 1970s it was at Ann Street Brewery in St Helier.




I remember going to the Hotel de La Plage for New Years Eve in my late teens on several occasions with my parents and sister, the Miles family and their son Nigel - David Miles was chief accountant for the Seymour Group, and the Binnington family (Bernard and Betty and their children. Food and cabaret were the order of the evening, with often a very bad impressionist. It would end with the conga at Midnight through to the table laden with desert.

Another commentator who worked there around this time said:

"I worked there as a commis chef back in 1978 for the season it was a great place to work with all the chefs and staff , the kitchen was modern and good to work in plus you got good staff accommodation, I seemed to spend all my free time on the beach , shopping , or clubbing not a bad life for a young lad."

In the late 1980s, the Seymour group planned at extension to the Portelet Hotel

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the decline in tourism began, although a significant pointer would be the Seymour hotel groups plans for a large new hotel at Portelet in the 1980s. The was a large groundswell of local feeling that this would have a detrimental visual impact upon Portelet bay, but eventually planning permission was granted. By that time, however, the Seymour group had decided that the decline in the tourism market meant that the project was no longer viable, and decided not to go ahead with the building.

Of the five hotels which formed part of the Seymour Group, only the Pomme d'Or and the flagship Merton Hotel remain. The others have been turned into flats. La Plage is now converted to Residence de la Plage, effectively flats.The last of the others to go was the Portelet Hotel which was knocked down last year to make way for flats.





The Caribbean bar has long since gone, with the closure of the La Plage Hotel, and Bodi and his Wunderbar German nights no longer feature at the Pomme D'Or Hotel.

German nights' were a popular form of entertainment for both tourists and locals in Jersey the 1970's - and the Pomme D'Or in particular used to feature an 'oom-pa-pa' Bierkeller-style singalong evening, featuring a German singer/accordionist called Bodi



In the mid-1970s Mascot coaches were offering a variety of two-hour morning tours for 65p and 3¼-hour afternoon tours with a stop for tea at 75p. Three-hour evening coastal tours were 70p for adults and 35p for children and there were also nightly coaches to Crazy Nites and other cabaret entertainment, as well as day-trips to France in the Trois Leopards.

Later on Seymour Hotels sold Mascot Motors to Jersey Motor Transport to concentrate on their core hotel business

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Drought and Jersey Water

Helier Smith, chief executive of Jersey Water














BBC news reported this story:

There is an "absolute drought" in Jersey after 15 days of no "measurable rainfall", according to meteorologists. Jersey Met Office said the last measurable rainfall - more than 1mm - in the largest Channel Island was on 2 July when 2.8mm of rain was recorded.

The dry spell is due to end on Thursday with thundery showers forecast. This is the 125th time the island has been in an absolute drought since records began in 1894 with the longest period lasting 39 days in 1976.

A Jersey Water spokesman said a hosepipe ban was unlikely as reservoirs were 83% full, with enough water to last three months. 


The Island is certainly in a better position that it was several years ago in the history book about Jersey Water, which mentioned that the population had actually exceeded the water supply in any prolonged drought.

The reasons can be read in their 2017 Annual Report and Accounts, which is very informative:

Operationally, 2017 was a successful year. We saw consumption of water fall by 3.2%, principally due to a reduction in leakage of approximately 14% on the prior year.

In 2017, we invested a total of £3,275k (2016: £4,589k) in our capital expenditure programme which included laying 2.1km of replacement mains, installing 1.9km of new mains extensions, investing £475k in water quality improvement and resource initiatives and adding 303 connections to the network.

We continue to invest in our infrastructure and 2018 will see the development of a live distribution network model that will, over time, enable the use of technology to manage leakage, pressures and water quality throughout our 580km of pipework.


So we can see from the above that the Company adopts a number of pro-active strategies to reduce the demand for water including Island-wide metering, pressure reduction, leakage control and mains renewals.

Metering makes people think twice about consuming water for watering gardens or washing cars too often.

And the £6.6 million upgrade of the desalination plant has meant that it has increased the capacity of the plant from 6.4Ml/day to 10.8Ml/day and improving the energy efficiency by 36%. It is still expensive to run, but can now produce more water at less expense. That is now approximately half of daily demand.

We all complain about the roads dug up, but old pipework can decay and is more prone to leakages. There is a complex network carrying the water supply around the Island and the renewal of mains involves the replacement of old, end of life, unlined cast iron or galvanised iron pipework, and related service connections where appropriate

As an example, 835 metres of main along Rue de La Baie in St Brelade’s bay was replaced last year - the original dating back to 1900! There was also the replacement of 303 metres of pipe laid in 1903 feeding Seaton Place and the renewal of 138 metres of main feeding Old Road Gorey (originally laid in 1959).

A Public Utility for the Public

One of the reasons for the success of the company is the States of Jersey majority shareholder having 83.33% of voting rights. As we have seen in the UK, where private companies run the water networks, the shareholders – and returns to shareholders – can often be prioritised at the expense of the consumer.

As the Guardian reported in May 2017:

“Fears of a drought are rising after an exceptionally dry spell and water companies are asking customers to save water, but the vast amount of water that leaks from company pipes every day has not fallen for at least four years.”

“Furthermore, many companies in the parched south and east of England have been set leak reduction targets for 2020 of zero or even targets that could allow leakages to increase. Critics blame a system where it is “cheaper to drain a river dry than fix a leak” and say it is unfair to place the water saving burden on customers while 20% of all water leaks out before it even reaches homes.”

Against that while Jersey Water has to make a profit and pay dividends to shareholders, it also can used a goodly amount of those profits to reinvest for the long term, something UK Water Companies are singularly poor at doing. Leaks have been reduced across England and Wales by only 5% over the past 13 years.

As the report states:

“We are a long term business. To be successful we must maintain our performance over generations. This means not taking short cuts, making the appropriate long term investment decisions and maintaining our assets to a high standard.”

Not only is the company investing in replacing ancient mains, they are also bringing in new technology for detecting leaks more efficiently.

In 2017, the Company commissioned the development of a live distribution network management system. The system will allow the distribution network to be monitored in real time to allow operatives to understand pressures, flows, the age of water in the mains and numerous other parameters. The system will facilitate the modelling of effects of changes to the network on water quality, pressure and quality of service. The system will be developed in phases over the coming years to add functionality in stages.

In conclusion, we have a first class Water company.

And of the future...

We should not be complacent – although the desalination plant has increased daily capacity, there is still only a limited amount of water available.

Climate change suggests weather patterns where there are periods of prolonged rainfall and periods of prolonged drought. Chemicals can suddenly put reservoirs temporarily out of action. Val de la Mare was Val de la Mare was closed for five months in 2016. All of these can restrict water capacity.

And as the population grows, the demand for water also grows., putting yet more pressure on the infrastructure, which is something often overlooked in discussions on net inward migration.

But Jersey Water are actively planning for the long term, and our future water supplies, I am inclined to believe, are in safe hands.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The People’s Park and the JEP

The 70th Anniversary of Liberation Day
Like the first, this took place in the People's Park
















The People’s Park is back in the frame as a possible site for the new hospital, but note the word “possible”. If the site not been reconsidered when other sites that had been considered and discarded under Andrew Green’s oversight, it would seem very strange. It needs to be considered – so that it can be ruled out properly.

Of course it might be still the best choice, but the political dimension needs also to be considered. It would be a brave Minister who tried to push that through, especially as the balance of the States has altered, and the five strong Reform members would almost certainly vote against.

There’s some strange reporting from the JEP. It reports of Jackie Hilton that:

“The former Deputy for St Helier No 3/4 led the Save People’s Park campaign in 2016 when it emerged as the Council of Ministers’ preferred site for the new hospital.”

Really? Wasn’t Christian May, the chairman of Save People's Park? As I recall his 2016 bi-election campaign said: “I am not afraid to stand up to power, as I did by successfully leading the ‘Save People’s Park’ campaign.” Why haven’t they asked him for his opinion? Is it because as a civil servant involved in the Island’s Brexit team, he is essentially muted? It is still no reason to distort history and airbrush his involvement away!

That's not to take away Deputy Hilton's part, but Christian May was the leading figure, and the JEP just doesn't mention him at all. Elephants can remember, they say, but the JEP cannot.

As in fact may be remembered, after protests and a petition, Senator Green was faced with a proposition from Constable Simon Crowcroft for the States to rule out the People’s Park, upon which he withdrew the People’s Park as a hospital site. In a face saving exercise, he said he was listening to the people, whereas in fact, he was counting votes in the States, and emails telling him of opposition. Rather than face a crushing defeat, he took the Town Park off the table of hospital sites, and caved in – not to public demand – but to the promised voting preferences of his fellow States members against it.

It is interesting that in the last election, only one candidate said they thought the Town Park was a good idea, and that they endorsed it, and would have supported Senator Green in the States. That was Deputy Susie Pinel, and it says a lot that a Deputy from outside St Helier should not be concerned with how the residents of St Helier think of the matter.

Is this Jersey’s equivalent of the West Lothian question? That is whether rural members of the States, who are overrepresented anyway in apportionment, should have the ability to make decisions which affect St Helier, where over a third of the Island lives? It would not be perhaps so pertinent if St Helier was fairly represented in the States.

The JEP makes a lot of its survey of readers, which has picked “the People’s Park” but a careful look at how they gleaned the result shows that it was a typical self-selecting survey. These are invariably biased and do not reflect the true state of affairs.

Rather than letting readers select themselves, even a smaller sample at random of 500 people out and about on the streets of St Helier would provide more information. It would still be deficient – it would not take account of different demographics, and the people who lived and worked outside of St Helier, but it would still be more representative.

Self-selecting samples can look impressive, as they may have larger numbers than a random sample, but it is severely deficient. In most instances, self-selection will lead to biased data, as the respondents who choose to participate will not well represent the entire target population. A key objective of doing surveys is to measure empirical regularities in a population by sampling a much smaller number of entities that represent the whole target population.

I remember when there was a decision to be made on a bridge across to the Waterfront, which would have spanned three lanes of traffic. A phone survey – taking numbers at random – was used. I know because I was one of those polled. Now, of course, when most people have mobiles, and not everyone is listed in a phone book, that would be much harder to do and be representative, but it was not a bad way of randomising the sample.

I rather like the acronym for one self-selecting sample. A self-selected listener opinion poll, also called SLOP, is an unscientific poll that is conducted by broadcast media (television stations and radio stations) to engage their audiences by providing them an opportunity to register their opinion about some topic that the station believes has current news value.

Like the self-selected listener opinion poll, this JEP poll is sloppy too!

What is New in Our Solar System - Talk Tonight


Monday, 16 July 2018

On the Box

On the Box



















The first UK police drama with a woman inspector, “The Gentle Touch” has been showing from the start. I’ve tried a few episodes but can’t really get into it. It has crimes, and some good actors, but it doesn’t seem to really have much of a firm identity as yet. 




















That’s not the case with Juliet Bravo, in which the Yorkshire location and people play a great part, or even with “The Bill” which is set in a fairly identifiable London milieu. 




















Back in the old days, Edgar Lustgarten was presenting “Scotland Yard” and a later series “The Scales of Justice”. Short little 30 minute dramas, they are masterpieces of concision which still stand up well today. And “Scales of Justice” has a very catchy theme tune from “The Tornadoes”, which the credits tell me, was released on Decca records. 



The Tornados were an English instrumental group of the 1960s that acted as backing group for many of record producer Joe Meek's productions and also for singer Billy Fury. They enjoyed several chart hits in their own right, including the UK and U.S. No. 1 "Telstar" (named after the satellite and composed and produced by Meek), the first U.S. No. 1 single by a British group. 

But who remembers them now? 




















I managed to catch up with “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. A lot of very interesting nods to “Space Seed” and “The Wrath of Khan” with this time Spock rather than Kirk doing the scream “Khaaan!!”. It was as enjoyable as the first series, and the ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch makes for a good villain, but it seemed just a little bit too CGI heavy as bits of the Enterprise are blown apart, and people fall screaming. Chris Pine reprises his role as Captain James T. Kirk, with Zachary Quinto as Spock, but while this Kirk is as headstrong as the original Shatner version, he doesn’t have close ups guerning to camera at all.



On the documentary front, BBC Four’s documentary about Nokia was fascinating:

“Once upon a time there was a large Finnish company that manufactured the world's best and most innovative mobile phones. Nokia's annual budget was larger than that of the government of Finland and everyone who worked there shared in the windfall. But global domination cost the company its pioneering spirit and quantity gradually took over from quality, with new phone models being churned out by the dozen. Market share eroded, until in 2016, mobile phone production in Finland ceased.”

“The Rise and Fall of Nokia is a wry morality tale for our times, told by those that lived and worked through the rollercoaster years in a company that dominated a nation.”

Apple’s iPhone with touch screen technology was a game changer, and then the rise of the cloned systems using Android operating system – and Samsung - was the final nail in the coffin.

As Himanshu commented:

“First, Nokia tried to compete by simply adding touch to the legacy Symbian - a patch that failed to deliver the fluid user experience of its rivals at the time. Then the switch to Windows Phone was announced way before there was actual hardware ready - a move that Elop hoped will boost developer interest, but ended up mostly killing Symbian sales 7 months before Nokia had an alternative to offer. Two mistakes of that magnitude, combined with the great delay in jumping to touchscreen were enough to cost the company's dominant position in the quickly moving market”



It is a fascinating story of how an up to date technology became overtaken and made obsolete.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

What is a Perpetual Curate?



















From "The Pilot", 1969, comes this, an interesting historical ramble.

The Revd Charles Dodgson was perpetual curate of All Saints’ Church, Daresbury in Cheshire. He was the father of C.L.Dodgson, otherwise known as Lewis Carroll.

Perpetual curacies had long been liable to remain poorly paid and inadequately housed relative to other full incumbencies of the Church of England, even when augmented from Queen Anne's Bounty; consequently the Perpetual Curate commonly features in mid-Victorian literary culture as a figure endeavouring to maintain the social standing of beneficed clergyman, but whose family aspirations (especially marital) were being frustrated by constricted financial expectations; most notably in The Perpetual Curate by Mrs Oliphant, and in The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope.

While not a "perpetual curate", the Minister of St Paul's Church in Jersey comes under a similar system, appointed and chosen by members of the lay congregation.

Some Church Customs Explained
By S.G. Thicknesse

What is a Perpetual Curate?


Most of the old churches of England were built by laymen, who endowed them with freehold land also sufficient for a graveyard, and sometimes for a parsonage house, and for a plot-the glebe-by which the rector could maintain himself for ever.

In addition, from the earliest centuries the parishioners brought annually to the tithe barn, or other convenient place, the tenth part of the yearly increment of their land, stock, and personal skill for the maintenance of their church and the clerk, or person, in holy orders who held it.

The right of nominating and presenting such a person to the living was clearly a valuable one. It was often handed down from father to son in the family of the original benefactor, or added to the dowry of a daughter, or sold, or given away as a pious act to a monastic foundation. Especially after the twelfth century it proved a very small step for such recipients to use their right to present to a living, if they were a monastic or other religious corporation, to nominate themselves to it in perpetuity.

By this legal fiction they were able to appropriate to the use of the house at least the valuable `great tithes' of the parish, those of corn, hay, grain, and wood, leaving the others, on other crops, on stock, and on personal skill, with freehold in church, etc., to the substitute whom they nominated-the vicar.

At the Dissolution such appropriated rectories, and the rights that went with them, in many cases fell into the hands of lay-men, the `gray coat parsons', where it still sometimes remains. Before the Reformation there were many spectacular cases of laymen holding clerical benefices, even bishoprics.

His Eminence Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, Abbot of St. Albans, and Bishop of Durham, secured for his natural son four archdeaconries, a deanery, five prebends and two rectories, and only failed to get him accepted as his successor in the fabulously rich see of Durham, although the young Thomas was not yet in priest's orders.

After the Reformation, however, if allowance is made for monastic wealth that came back into lay hands, the number of laymen living on what had been clerical benefits was greater than ever before.

Where such layman swallowed, impropriated, the vicarage tithes of the living, as well as the rectorial, the parson instituted to its shorn freehold was, and is, called a perpetual curate. He holds, as does every rector or vicar, a benefice and cure, or care, of souls. Rectors and vicars are also `curates'. Any unbeneficed clergyman who assists them, whether he be priest or deacon, is an assistant curate.

Before the middle of the nineteenth century it was quite often this assistant curate alone who was left to look after the parish. Realistic England therefore tended to drop the word `assistant' from his title.

Although there are far more parochial benefices in England than benefices of other types, there are also others, as for example those attached to cathedrals and collegiate churches. Some of these were served before the Reformation by monks, as at Durham, or by canons living together under a rule, as at Salisbury, but where such foundations survived they became `secular' at the dissolution.

A dean, for example, holds a cathedral benefice; so do those canons residentiary who have definite full-time or periodic duties to perform in the cathedral or collegiate church. The subdean is often a beneficed canon, as is also a precentor. The latter, the leader of the music, as his Latin name implies, traditionally holds the stall opposite and corresponding to that of the dean.

Between them they have supplied the names of the sides of the choir-decani, the side of the dean (decanus: originally a man set over ten); and cantoris, that of the precantor.

At first such beneficed canons were called prebendaries. This was because, about the tenth century, they tired of living together under a common roof and split up among themselves the prebend, the revenues of the foundation.

To-day, on the contrary, a prebendary, as at St. Paul's, tends to be an honorary, not a beneficed canon. Among the rights which he enjoys is a seat on the cathedral chapter.