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August 1904 - Dance on the Vicarage Lawn

Monthly Magazine for the Parishes of S James, Badsey, with Aldington & S John Baptist, Wickhamford
Transcription of article


My Dear Parishoners,

Under ordinary circumstances it would be quite impossible for me to say anything in the Magazine about the dance on the Vicarage lawn, on the evening of July 27th, for the originating of which I was entirely responsible. As, however, many of you have ventured to criticise freely the imposition of a charge of threepence for admission to the Vicarage grounds, for which charge I was in no way responsible, I feel that no apology is necessary for introducing the subject. Some, at least, of those who read these, lines will say that I am bestowing upon a molehill the attention due to nothing of less importance than a mountain. But even molehills have, like mountains, been known to be instrumental in producing fatal consequences, and are therefore entitled to a measure of respect.

The simple facts of the case, which very many have failed to grasp, are as follows:

1. At one of their meetings I told the Flower Show Committee that, as the Little Stockey was very rough for dancing, I would allow such of the dancers as were parishioners, or friends of parishioners, to make use of my lawn on the day of the Show (if the ground were not too wet) and would, at my own private expense, illuminate it.

2. I also offered to find room for the band and for a refreshment stall to be conducted on temperance principles.

3. The Committee accepted my offer.

4. At the next Committee meeting it was decided, during my absence, to make a charge of threepence for admission to the Vicarage Grounds, the money to go to the Flower Show funds; and although, when I heard of this, I protested strongly against any charge for admission being made, the Committee (scarcely, as I think, in accordance with the wishes of the majority), were not disposed to alter their plans. The charge was therefore made. I did all that I had promised (which involved putting my hand in my pocket a little deeper than is usual with supporters of the Flower Show), and the Flower Show funds profited to the extent of the dancers' gate money.

The only benefit derived by me personally from the imposition of the threepenny charge lay in the fact that my lawn suffered not at all from the saltations of the hundred and fifty or so who came to dance, whereas it would probably have suffered considerably had the adult population of the parish shown up in force; but this was small compensation for the absence of many of my friends whom it would have been a pleasure to welcome to the Vicarage, and who, I am sure, had they had fuller knowledge how matters stood, would hardly have denied me that pleasure for the sake of an expenditure of threepence. The Committee were in a position to impart this knowledge and were also fully aware of the misunderstanding and consequent ill-feeling abroad, and they ought surely to have instructed their appointed spokesman to make a plain statement of the case, in public, when the distribution of prizes gave him an opportunity of doing so. I write this without prejudice to my right to charge admission to my grounds for any public or charitable object, whenever it may seem to me desirable to do so. On the occasion in question I did not think it desirable. I have often heard it said that many clergy would say less than do from their pulpits if the 'man in the pew' had the right to reply; therefore, to remove all suspicion that I may be making an unfair use of the Magazine, I beg to state that I shall be happy to publish any letters on the above subject which may be addressed to me by parishioners. In all that concerns the welfare of the parishes of Badsey and Wickhamford, believe me to be, according to my ability.

Your servant for Christ's sake,