Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Down to the Pub with the Vicar of Henley

St. John the Baptist church, High Street, Henley-in-Arden
The Rev. Thomas Jones was for 25 years the vicar of St. John the Baptist, Henley-in-Arden. After the death of his first wife, he remarried but, alas, not happily. The second Mrs. Jones quickly decamped, preferring to return to live with her father who managed Arden House, a nearby "first class lunatic asylum." 

The vicar was nevertheless popular with all classes in the Warwickshire market town. Too popular, perhaps. He delighted in sitting at any of the many pubs that lined the long High Street. There, amongst the farmers and tradesmen, he smoked, drank and (allegedly) made "indecent remarks" as the local women passed by. But the more serious concern was a rumour that Mr. Jones may have been guilty of indecent liberties with a Mrs. Appleby, one of his servants at the vicarage. Her husband surely thought so, poor James Appleby complained, "I wish to God he would not go running after her as he does." 

In 1867, the local gentry went to the Bishop with their concerns and an inquiry was ordered -  ironically staged at the (White) Swan Inn, a High Street hostelry. The Rev. Jones was found innocent on all charges of impropriety with Mrs. Appleby but his otherwise indecent demeanour and language was adjudged to be conduct unbecoming a clergyman. He was briefly suspended but remained vicar at St. John's almost up to his death in 1877. 

Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Vol 1 is now available in e-book form from Amazon. ($5.49 US or £3.86 UK)
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