Reverend Gerald Knight

Memories by Clive Byerley

Clive Byerley

Archdeacon Parr (predecessor to Rev Gerald Knight) lived in some style in the vicarage and had a chauffeur to drive his stately car. He wore gaiters and a frock coat like a character from ‘Barchester Towers’. He can be seen standing, looking on in the photograph of the planting of the Coronation Oak. He used to descend on us at the little church school to hear us recite the catechism which Arthur Twigger had us drilled in for days beforehand:

“What did your God-fathers and God-mothers then do for you?
They did promise and vow three things in my name:
First that I should renounce the Devil and all his works, the pomp and vanity of this wicked world, and the sinful lusts of the flesh.”

Rather a lot for an eight year old boy to give up – before he had any chance of finding out what they were! Perhaps that was why we recited it with our fingers crossed?

Mr Twigger used to stand like an avenging angel behind the vicar’s back willing us to get the words right and threatening dire consequences for too many mistakes. I think Archdeacon Parr retired in about 1955 and was followed by a man who was to change the lives of so many of us in the village for the better – the Revd Gerald Knight ALCD.

This short, rosy faced, rather tubby man was an extraordinary addition to the community. He was accompanied by his wife, a saintly woman with a grey bun, like a vicar’s wife from a novel, but in addition a wicked sense of humour. They had two children, Tim and Elizabeth (known as Buff), both of whom inherited their parents’ special qualities.

I well remember bumping in to Gerald Knight one Thursday evening in 1957 when making my way home to tea down Wasperton Lane. Like an angler intent on reeling me in he called me over and enquired my name and age; finding the answer satisfactory, he asked me if I would like to sing in the church choir that he was currently reorganising. Not knowing how to politely refuse such an eminent person – and impressed by his forceful personality – I found myself volunteering, and adding that I would bring some friends along whom I thought might be recruited. Most of these pals stayed a month or two for the sixpence a service we were paid, but I remained for years, spell-bound.

Remembrance Day saw us poppied and surpliced outside the War Memorial. Harvest Festival revealed a huge loaf propped up against the altar, shaped like a sheaf of wheat – including a little mouse hiding in the stems. Ploughs adorned the nave, and jars of jam glistened amongst the chrysanthemums and Michaelmas daisies. Farmers, who never came at any other time, appeared in the nave in their best suits, self-consciously losing their way in the unfamiliar prayer book. I used to wonder, rather self-righteously, if this was some kind of Divine insurance policy against future storm and pestilence.

Coventry Evening TelegraphSaturday 10 January 1970

Article About Reverend Knight

French chaplaincy for Vicar of Barford

A WARWICKSHIRE village vicar will have an ex- Jockey on his church council at Chantilly when he becomes an Anglican chaplain in France next month.

The Rev. Gerald Knight. Vicar of Barford and Wesperton for 11 years, is to take over three churches at Chantilly, Le Havre and Rouen. Mr. Knight will take services and help English visitors in the area. These will include jockeys. horse-trainers and stable-boys at France’s famous Chantilly racecourse.

He admitted that he had no interest in horse racing at the moment, but commented: “I could become interested after meeting so many people connected with it.”

Mr. Knight will be one of a 10-man team of Anglican chaplains in France at the moment. He will live in Chantilly and travel to Le Havre and Rouen.

In Kenya

Mr. Knight, who is 58, came to Warwickshire in 1958 after spending 10 years as a chaplain in Kenya. He was working in the troubled area during the Mau Mau uprising and visited his parish—which was the size of England—by lorry or police car.

“I am delighted to be making this next move to France, although my time in Barford has been a most enjoyable one,” he said. “Here,.one tends more to let the people come to you. In France it will be a case of going out to the people,” said Mr. Knight.

He returned from Kenya so that his children could benefit from an English education. One is now a teacher and the other an engineer. and Mr. Knight says that he feels able to leave the country again with his children settled. Mr. Knight speaks French “reasonably well” and is looking forward to learning it more thoroughly.

This page was added on 12/02/2020.

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