A former boat boy remembers Fr Patten's induction as vicar of Walsingham in 1921


I think back to those last years of the incumbency of "The Vicar", the Revd. E. L. Reeves, who at choir practice failed to appreciate my feeble efforts to sing the psalms of Dr. Woodward [G R Woodward, a previous vicar]. I was therefore transferred to swell the ranks of the altar servers and became "boat boy" to Mr. H. Vaughan Hayler's "thurifer" when incense was first introduced at St. Mary's.

I recall attending the funeral of the last Lee Warner Squire and the viewing day at the Abbey sale. There I viewed with awe the lace collar said to have been worn by Charles, King and Martyr, on the scaffold at Whitehall before his execution. Although I did not then realize it, this could be said to mark the end of a Walsingham epoch.

The beginning of the new was of course the Induction of the Revd. Alfred Hope Patten and I well procession with incense 1923recall the impressive mien and golden voice on this occasion, and the subsequent two Sunday evenings when he "read himself in". I remember too the enthusiasm aroused in us when Tommy Tapping, Fortescue* in hand, drilled both Fr. Patten and the rest of us in the correct decorum of the sanctuary. Another highlight was the occasion when I attended Fr. Patten as cope-bearer for the Easter Procession singing "Hail Festal Day" when the magnificent Clints Cope was I suppose first used.

Soon after this I was sent to London to earn my daily bread and to a great extent became out of touch with Walsingham church life. I shall, though, always remember those early days with affection and gratitude.

*Fortescue: meaning a copy of Ritual Notes, written by Fortescue and O'Connell
photograph from the archives


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