31 August 2021

John Haycroft.

John Haycroft lived and worshipped within my former Anglican parish of S Thomas the Martyr. He was a college servant - what in Oxford we call a scout. He was the scout of Sanctus Ioannes Henricus Newman. You see, my poor working-class parish was the behind-the-green-baize-door part of gentlemanly, academic Oxford. 

Haycroft never followed his master into full communion with the Holy See. But he also never forgot the lessons he had learned from ... whom? from Newman or from Canon Thomas Chamberlain (my distinguished predecessor who brought Catholicism out of the Common-rooms of Victorian Oxford into the ordinary parish church of a slum district)? Or from both? 

As an old man, when Communion had to be brought to him in his own home (a Victorian terrace house which, mercifully, survived the slum clearances of the last two decades), he insisted on observing the Eucharistic Fast, and on having his little table arranged so the the priest who brought him God's Body was ... facing East! 

I shan't forget the little manservant who felt so privileged to be able to listen to the discussions of Newman and his august friends.

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