Saturday, 17 October 2015

Dr Fraser's Pill

Many have written scurrilous things about Dr Giles Beeching's plans to cut the rural Church of England down to size.

But few have had the chance to see the details. Luckily a friend of the Beaker Folk, at a South London fondue party, managed to get a photograph of his specific plans for the mid-Bedfordshire area.

Turns out that the plan is to close most churches in the area as they only run a service on Sundays. Husborne Crawley and Aspley Guise churches will be replaced with a bus service, which will spend an hour each Sunday driving around the other mid-Beds villages picking up parishioners so they can attend the 8am at Woburn.

Toddington, Chalgrave, Tebworth and Houghton Regis churches will all close, to be replaced by Houghton Parkway Church, a state of the art church in Giles Fraser's preferred "bus shelter" style, conveniently located on the Dunstable north bypass.

Ampthill church will no longer hold Church of England services. However there are plans for a restoration trust to take it over, and run Common Prayer evensong during the summer months for tourists.

The clergy will be concentrated into the towns of Bedford, Luton and Dunstable. These "minster churches" will be the bases from which the clergy will be able to drink coffee, fill in expense forms and reflect that Dr Fraser's pill may have been bitter, but it was clearly prophetic. As since the implementation of his reforms, nobody goes to Church anymore.


  1. Not satire is it? All true!

  2. Some Belgian prelate (I think he was Belgian; semper aliquid malum ex Belgica) is suggesting that in order to counteract the shortage of priests, laypeople ought to be commandeered to dish out Holy Communion instead. And he didn't mean EMHCs either; he meant, completely replace the priests.

    I like your comment about bus-shelter architecture. The late Alice Thomas Ellis once remarked that if you wanted to find a modern Catholic Church in a strange town, just look for the most diabolically ugly building, bar none. At least bus-shelters aren't built "in the round" as far as I know. Paddy's Wigwam?

  3. Husborne Crawley, Aspley Guise, and Houghton Regis churches were indeed all closed and locked whenI happened by last week. How are people expected to engage with a building they are locked out of? And why should they take any notice of what the people who are in there for an hour on Sunday have to say?

  4. Ampthill's not a problem - just ask the RCs to pay for its maintenance as they have dual ownership.

    (Wife used to go to Ampthill church when she lived there in the late 80s: she knows all about the saga of the Niche and the Curtain :) )

  5. Sorry for posting again so quickly, but this is serious.

    If these "reforms" go ahead, PG Wodehouse's "The Great Sermon Handicap" will no longer make any sense, eheu.

    Look it up for yourselves.

  6. We may send Burton over to the Trim Valley benefice to test this out, but I suspect even today you would often be following the same minister to multiple services with the same (short, to fit them all in) sermon.

  7. I hope there's a John Betjeman poem about al of this

  8. and a Flanders and Swan song


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