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The day the vicar locked the council out of the parish church of Basingstoke.

Canon Boustead

Basingstoke made headlines in the national and provincial press in 1907 when the vicar of Basingstoke, Revd Boustead, sent an intemperate letter to the town clerk. He told the clerk that the Mayor and Corporation and the police, fire brigade and other public and voluntary bodies would not be welcome to hold the annual Civic Service in the Parish Church if they intended, in line with tradition, to hold a similar service in one of the nonconformist churches. He said that such an action would, ‘degrade God’s Church to the level of one of the 350 man-made sects’.

Revd Boustead’s letter was reprinted with a brief introduction in dozens of provincial newspapers from the Cornishman to the Aberdeen Press and Journal under various headlines, including ‘Strange Situation at Basingstoke’, ‘Mockery of Religion’, ‘Not wanted at Church’ and ‘Another Clerical Bigot’.

The Mayor decided not to hold the Civic Service in the Parish Church. However, the following year he decided that the custom of the Civic Service should continue, but when the procession reached the church, the vicar had locked the church door.

For the full story, please see the attached.

Content derived during research for the new VCH Hampshire volume, Basingstoke and its surroundings.

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