Monday, April 02, 2018

A Totally Preposterous Parson

Waugh and Bourchier

Earlier in the week, your humble Gazetteer was pleased to attend the launch party for a most interesting exhibition at Burgh House, the beautiful Queen Anne era privately-run Hampstead Museum to highlight the career of the Revd Basil Bourchier, the eccentric, indeed flamboyant incumbent of the church of St Jude-on-the-Hill in Hampstead Garden Suburb, a fine Lutyens building worthy of note. In his time, (the late 19th and early 20th century) Bourchier was one of the best known, and most controversial clerics in Britain. He was an early crusader in favour of the role of women in the church, and a keen anti-vivisectionist, supporting several other socially progressive causes as well as promoting a rather idiosyncratic version of High Church ritual at St Jude's, a fact that caused his one time parishioner, the novelist Evelyn Waugh to describe him as "A Totally Preposterous Parson..".

He became Rector of St Anne's Soho in 1933, taking up residence in Soho Square, where he was to die not more than a year later. in 1937 a narrow alleyway between Wardour St and Dean St, perhaps appropriately, was to be renamed Bourchier St, as it remains to this day.

"A Totally Preposterous Parson.." is the title of the splendidly detailed and lavishly illustrated short biography of Bourchier, focussed in part on his difficult relationship with the ever critical Waugh, written by the Revd Alan Walker, who is the present, and very distinguished incumbent, at St Jude's, and published by the church itself. Alan Walker has also curated with great flair the small but fascinating exhibition dedicated to the Clash of the two Intellectual Titans of Hampstead Garden Suburb, which is well worth a pilgrimage from Zone 1. The Museum is free to enter.

William Ward

St George's Bloomsbury  Parish Gazette for Sunday March 25th 2018 Palm Sunday