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Sunday, September 08, 2019

Father Peter Baulk


Early in September the Vicar was visited by Archpriest Peter Baulk of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.  As a young man living in Borehamwood Peter saw a service from St Jude’s on the television and was, in his words, impressed by the beauty of the worship and music.  He began to attend the church and soon joined the choir and later became a server.  A particular memory he has is of serving at the ordination of priests and deacons at St Jude’s in 1968 by the then Bishop of Willesden, Graham Leonard, (who as Bishop of London also ordained the vicar - but at St Pauls’s Cathedral). Father Peter brought with him a photo of the occasion for our archive. He was pleased to see that the interior of St Jude’s has changed little, was delighted to be reaquainted with the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (believed to have been given to St Jude’s by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, the mother of the last tsar) at the entrance to the Lady Chapel and admired the new icon of St Jude (given in memory of Margaret Smith in 2016). 

Father Peter shared many memories of former parishioners, Frank and Doris Parlett, the “formidable ladies”: Vera Shears, Rose Silver, Mary Holland, and Ada-Mary Thompson - mostly just names to the vicar, but including also David Hill, Ione Burley and the Moriartys. The vicar in his time was Robin Dunhill (1963-1973), but he was better acquainted with the series of curates who lived in the vicarage flats (he had never been in the vicarage itself until this visit). These included Revv John Seeley (1967-9 later vicarof St Paul’s, Harringay died 2007), Michael Anderson (1969-73 who retired as vicar of All Saints, Margate in 2000) and Richard Smith (later vicar of SS Peter and Paul, Enfield who died in 1987).  He also remembered Barnard, the (last?) verger of St Jude’s, who lived in the rooms now used by the Sunday School, and who had been (and returned to be) a footman at Buckingham Palace.

The young Peter Baulk trained as an engineer and had a career with GEC/Marconi/BAE,  all the while living in Borehamwood (as he still does).  The pressure of work and other responsibilities eventually took him away from St Jude’s.  He was unable to find the spiritual sustenance he had known in the liturgical worship at St Jude’s in neighbouring Anglican churches and sought the guidance of Fr Timothy (now Bishop Kallistos) Ware, a convert to the Greek Orthodox Church.  Peter subsequently found his way to the small Orthodox congregation that worships in the chapel at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey. He became a member of the Orthodox Church and was eventually ordained a priest in 1994 by Bishop Mark of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. This is the jurisdiction of the Russian Church ‘in exile’ which did not recognize the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate during the communist era (they are now reconciled). The ROCA community in London opened their splendid new cathedral in Gunnersbury in 1999. (The vicar made a programme about the foundation of the cathedral for BBC Radio 3 in 1996.) Father Peter joined the parish there in 2007 and became Parish Priest in 2016. He was raised to the rank of Archpriest in 2010 and ‘officially retired’ in 2017. As well as the photograph, Father Peter brought gifts of incense from Russia and the Holy Land.

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