Twist of the Collar - Clerical Memoirs by Rev. L. E. A. Ehrmann
VII - HINDHEAD
[p30] When I left Abbey Wood I spent what was intended to be only a very short time of rest and freedom of responsibility with the Rev. G. H. Morrell at S. Laurence, Catford, where I had had such a good time as Assistant Priest before. He was a very good man, and I was given a free hand. I naturally visited a great deal and found many of my former friends still living in the parish. I was soon asked to conduct the Mission Service on Sunday evenings in Holbeach Road Hall, which was a centre of activity all through [p 31] the week. The congregations there were usually good, for it had been previously well worked by the Rev. George Parsons. When Mr. Morrell had the parish of Hindhead offered to him, the Rev. 0. G. Petersen from S. Thomas', Old Charlton, accepted the living. We were all very sorry about this - not for personal reasons, but because his Churchmanship was not suitable for Catford. But Mr. Petersen persuaded me to remain a little while with him, which I did.
When, however, my dear friend, Mr. Morrell, became ill 1 considered it right for me to go to Hindhead to help him. It was very pathetic, for he had for a long time desired to go to that parish, and yet he was not Vicar for long. He was a great invalid when I arrived there early in January, 1927, and I was at once made priest-in-charge. Many people knew the beauty of S. Alban's Church, its services and activities, etc., to say nothing of the lovely scenery around. It had a long reputation of good Churchmanship and teaching, in spite of the fact that old Satan was in evidence there:- the "Devil's Punchbowl," and the little hills nearby called "the Devil's Jumps." Being about 900ft. above sea level it was a most healthy place, and there were some good hotels there.
Several retired clergy resided in or near Hindhead, and they often gave some help, the chief one being Canon Harry Bartram, whom I knew very well, and was Archdeacon Hardcastle's Vicar at Ramsgate. I shall never forget the happy, though in some ways very sad, time 1 had there. Often seeing Mr. Morrell in his bed and telling him any news I could, it is always a real grief to see the life of a man who had been full of vigour gradually ebbing away.
The Rev. W. A. Wordsworth was a kind friend to me and helper. I remember Mrs. Morrell telling me when my work was finished there, "I am so glad the parish can be handed over to the new Vicar just as it was in Harry's time." I knew Mr. Morrell's ways at Catford, and so it was easy for me to run the parish as he desired, though a few ‘Anglo-Catholics" would have desired me to do more. I he Vicar was absolutely sound as a Catholic. He was interested most in teaching people rather than in ritual and rendered good service to the Mothers' Union in London. He passed to his rest on 20th April, 1927. The Funeral Service at St. Alban's was an impressive one, the Bishops of Winchester and Guildford and the Rev. 0. M. Wheeler taking part whilst a number of clergy were present, and a full church. In the appendix will be found a copy of a letter of mine giving some facts of Mr. Morrell.
In my stay at Hindhead I had become acquainted with Dr. J. H. G. Randolph, Suffragen Bishop of Guildford, and he told me that I should receive some appointment after the work I had done at Hindhead. But, without my knowledge, other plans [p 32] were afoot for me, and I left that lovely part of Surrey when the new Vicar was appointed.
Several matters must not be passed over by me. First, of Mr. and Mrs. P. W. Barker, who housed me very reasonably at their private hotel, "Woodberry." which was most handy for the Church. They were most kind to me, and as a result of Mrs. Barker's keenness for the Oxford Mission to Calcutta I agreed when I left Hindhead to be Deanery Secretary of Ospringe, which I still carry on in Kent. During this time my wife, her mother and my daughter had to remain at Catford, but the nine months passed very quickly, and yet I could write a whole book on my experiences at Hindhead - so much, as I look back, was crowded in so short a time. I received much help from the two wardens, Messrs. G. Tomlinson and W. Stratton.
I attended the enthronement of the new Bishop of Guildford (Diocesan) in the Pro Cathedral; Dr. J. H. Greig was known to me at Blackheath and was a kind friend to us when I was a Lay Reader.
Then I remember being placed on a Committee for securing "The Golden Valley" for the people, instead of allowing it to be built upon as was threatened.
Regarding the services at S. Alban's, I will refer only to Lent. Regular courses of sermons on Sunday mornings and evenings were preached, as well as on certain week-days, and I heard more Confessions there than otherwise in my whole ministerial life.
Those who know the Portsmouth Road, the scenery at Hastemere, Grayshott, Frencham, etc., will need no description from me of Hindhead. The Church of S. Alban is a beautiful specimen of modern architecture and has excellent wood-paving. The Verger, Mr. Brown, took a special interest in keeping the Church spotlessly clean. I said to him one day: "Mr. Brown, do you know I have looked all over the Church and cannot find a speck of dust!" He smiled. In December, 1931, Arthur Gordon Brown died suddenly. He was greatly esteemed.
On 2nd June, 1927, the blessing and opening of the Central Deaconess Home took place at Hindhead, and many Dignitaries were present. It was preceded by a service in St. Alban's Church.
As I write this Mrs. Morrell has also passed to her rest, and their only son. Rev. J. H. L. Morrell. is now Archdeacon of Lewes. Truly, he has followed in his father's footsteps in his zeal for the Church.
WHAT IS MAN?
Though not relevant to this chapter or memoirs, I may be permitted to ask the question "Does the human race come from the Ape?" This is still before us, and I have just read an article on "Fact or Theory" regarding the origin of man. Whether Darwin [p 33] was right or wrong, it does not matter, but man was endowed with spiritual qualities which no monkey has ever possessed, in some way or other, whatever his origin, man from a Christian point of view, was a special creation. Darwin's was, after all, a theory upon which scientists, in details at any rate, are still divided.