Page 15, 11th November 1938

11th November 1938
Page 15
Page 15, 11th November 1938 — Of Persons

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Locations: Surrey, Oxford


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By G. E. ANSTRUTHER In his own column, a short while ago, *The Jotter " confessedly stood indebted to another man's memory for some data about Catholic re-burials in Great Britain. The question had been raised apropos of the translation of Fr. Lester's body to Osterley. But knowledge, in such matters, has its limits with any of us. To the few instances then cited there are doubtless a number of others that might be added; this, for one, which a Southwark priest is kind enough to supply: When the Rev. Algernon Lang, of Oxted, Surrey, died in February, 1929, he was buried in the old churchyard of that village. The interment proved temporary. Later on, the body was exhumed and reburied by the side of the Church of All Saints, which Fr. Lang had built to serve, as it does, the Oxted faithful.

Those who knew Fr. Lang in life can refresh their minds with the picture of a delightful personality, a wellspring of old-world charm and courtesy. On the analogy of Monmouth and Macedon, served out to him with double strength, the founder of the Oxted parish took something of his own past to Surrey, for he had worked previously at Oxford. Many former undergraduates will recall his period at Bishop King's Palace, Fr. Lang was a convert. In his apostolic zeal as such, he wrote, and the C.T.S. published, a telling brochure on the " Religion of the Thirty-nine Articles," for which religion he no longer had use.

* * * *

On the threshold of an outburst, as many will recollect, the eruption can be stayed

with a single word : Basingstoke. Anybody who doesn't know this has still to make acquaintance with Mad Margaret. But in Basingstoke itself no such magical invocation will have stemmed the enthusiasm of spirit with which the congregation in Sherborne Road received the news that their Rector, the Rev. Herbert Dorran, had been made a Canon of the Portsmouth Chapter. Canon Dorran has worked in the town for nearly eighteen years, and his parishioners do not stand alone there in hailing with pleasure the tidings of his elevation.

The Catholic visitor to Basingstoke who arrives by rail, finds the place one of almost immediate consolation. From the station one looks out upon a ruined chapel of the Holy Ghost, a sanctuary devastated by man's work during the Commonwealth. For a moment the reflection is melancholy, until the eye catches a glimpse, not far beyond that forlorn vestige of the past, of another building with the like dedication— the handsome church designed by the late Canon Scoles, a priest-architect suffused with devotion to the Holy Spirit.*

Second thoughts are best, or if the sticklers want it so, better. A signboard is to hang at the famous " George " Inn, last survivor, in part, of the galleried inns of old Southwark. This ancient hostelry is now in the care of the National Trust, so it was something of a shock to read that the sign, as first proposed, was to have given us a mere George of earthly royalty, and that monarch—of all of them—George the Fourth!

Southwark has been saved at any rate from that affront to the spirit of place.

Shades of the past and its pilgrims! In the ages of faith the sign was an ecclesiastical one. Well into the sixteenth century, men looked up to and were welcomed by " St. George that swinged the Dragon, and sits on horseback at mine hostess' door." Then came a time which had no use for saints, and thenceforth a plain and Protestant " George " kept the title. It is good news that on the now approved signboard the dragon-slaying Patron bestrides his horse once more, in legendary conflict with the monster typifying iniquity.

* * * Celebrations at Newhaven have marked a semi-jubilee of service. Fr. Charles Vermech, A.A., went to the Sussex port twenty-five years ago, and the fruits of his labour are there, for all to see, after the quarter-century's passing.

Among his memories, Fr. Vermech must have stored the knowledge of days when there were dark doings in Newhaven, since after sundown most things, as it seemed to an outsider, were being done in obscurity.

Sussex was taking no chances. A literal inch of candle in the heavily-curtained bedroom, with the exhortation to the traveller: " be sure and put it out, Sir, the moment you're undressed," was testimony enough that those were not the piping times of peace. Throughout the war years, Fr. Vermech did valued service, not least for those who sought and found at Newhaven a refuge from nearer and greater peril elsewhere.

Poets' autographs, nine for sixpence. There is something pathetic, at a first hearing, in the very sound of it. Any single poet should be worth more than that, while a film star would presumably command

heaps of sixpences for mere initials. Yet the nine Catholic verse-makers who have so cheapened their signatures have done -so as benefactors and with a worthy end in view. They thus encourage their fellows in faith, by a personal, even an intimate touch, to welcome the first number of The Southwellian, a little budget from the Catholic Poetry Society of Queensland.

Blessed Robert Southwell, poet and martyr, is the Australian society's patron. It is a happy choice, even on the minor ground, if we consider that Ben Jonson would gladly have forfeited credit in some of his own verses to have been the author of such a poem as " The Burning Babe."

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