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A Field Guide to the English Clergy by Rev. The Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie

A Field Guide to the English Clergy

A Compendium of Diverse Eccentrics, Pirates, Prelates and Adventurers; All Anglican, Some Even Practising

Rev. The Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie

4.00 out of 5

5 reviews

Imprint: Oneworld Publications
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Publication date: 4 Oct 2018
ISBN: 9781786074416

The Archbishop of York's behaviour was 'never that expected of a cleric, rarely that expected of a pirate'...

  • The TimesBook of the Year
4 stars out of 5
Rose Wild
6 Oct 2018

"'I’m glad I read this one. It’s a lot of fun.'"

The English like to celebrate eccentrics. We make heroes of people who grow giant vegetables, or carve topiary steam engines. We have also always kept a special haven for oddballs in the Church of England, as Fergus Butler-Gallie demonstrates in this entertaining compendium...Butler-Gallie catalogues his dingbats under eccentrics, nutty professors, bon viveurs, prodigal sons and rogues. Their foibles cover all bases from absent-mindedness and idleness to fornication and epic drunkenness...Among the witticisms of Sydney Smith, the Regency wit, canon of St Paul’s and editor of the Edinburgh Review, quoted in Butler-Gallie’s profile, is his claim: “I never read a book before reviewing it; it prejudices a man so.”
I’m glad I read this one. It’s a lot of fun.

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
Andrew Gimson
21 Dec 2018

"a light-hearted rebuke to “the idol of earnestness” which blights large parts of the Church"

...seems to have been thrown together in a slapdash and even idle manner, as if its author suffers from a short attention span, and cannot be bothered to verify his facts or polish his epigrams... This volume is a light-hearted rebuke to “the idol of earnestness” which blights large parts of the Church... We are in a world worthy of Lewis Carroll, and pleasantly soothing it is too. By all means keep Religio Medici next to your bed if you wish, but this book deserves a place of honour in your downstairs loo.

3 stars out of 5
Harry Mount
29 Sep 2018

"'The English clergy at their oddest – a compendium'"

As the wordy title of this book and the name of its author suggest, this is a faux-archaic, fogeyish journey around England's oddest vicards. The Reverend Fergus Butler- Gailie is, though, the real thing: a young curate in the Church of England. Yes, he's given to sometimes tiresome jocularity: he describes himself as 'a Bon Viveur first and foremost, with a soupcon of Roguishness and Prodigality'. But, still, his essential thesis is right: the Church of England has produced some real oddballs in its time, and this is an entertaining gallop through several centuries' worth of them.

5 stars out of 5
Sebastian Shakespeare
27 Sep 2018

"Reader, rest assured, I did read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. "

Many of the stories are apocryphal, others are too good to be true, but Butler-Gallie clearly feels it is above (or beneath) him to sort the factual wheat from the fictional chaff. This book, which he modestly describes as a ‘scraped together offering’, is primarily about entertainment... It could have been even longer and no doubt there is a second volume in the offing.... Reader, rest assured, I did read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. All human life is here. You never know, it might even restore a bit of faith in our beleaguered Church of England. 

  • The Sunday TimesMust Read
4 stars out of 5
Christopher Hart
23 Sep 2018

"A marvellous tribute to the rich variety of oddballs and rogues who have made up our Broad Church"

Maybe Butler-Gallie could have pushed further into history... Nevertheless, this is a marvellous tribute to the rich variety of oddballs and rogues who have made up our Broad Church, which in living memory has had as its head a man, the saintly Archbishop Michael Ramsey, who would start each day by banging his head on his desk and saying three times: “I hate the Church of England.”