The Old Rectory and the bonfire of books

6 July 2020

The following story is from Loughborough resident David Taylor, a life-long congregation member of All Saints’ Parish Church.

‘It must have been about 1956 that the following events occurred.’

‘Chas and I had been good friends at All Saints and also at school for some time, so it was not unusual to find us on a Saturday morning hanging about together and getting into the things normally expected of young teenage boys.’

‘On finding us at a loose end on one particular Saturday morning, the church verger (Chas’s father) called us into the garden and said something like ‘’if you have nothing much else to do then I have got a little job for you both that will help me a lot.’’’

‘We asked in a guarded way what the nature of the job might be (never bite off more than you can chew.)’

‘There is quite a bit of old rubbish in the rectory garden plus a huge woodworm-infested book case and a pile of old books left by Canon Lyon. I need to have them all burned by the end of today. Can I rely on you both to do it this afternoon?’’’

‘Well, no further encouragement was needed! It was home for lunch, a change of clothes and back to the rectory garden armed with a small amount of paraffin and a box of matches.’

‘The bookcase went first, followed by the general rubbish and finally we started on the books.’

‘They were as I remember quite a varied collection.  Some were old and relating back to his early days in the ministry, others were signed and dated offerings from friends and relations, parishioners and fellow scholars. Most just smelt of damp and closed-up rooms.’

‘The burning continued until I picked up a beautiful red leather-bound book about A4 size with gloss paper pages and colour illustrations of all the cathedrals in the UK. Each illustration was protected by a single fly sheet of tissue paper, and the whole item just spoke of quality.’

‘I told Chas that we could not just burn an item like this and he said ‘’do as you like with it, I won’t tell my dad.’’’

‘The book went into the saddle bag of my bicycle, and thence back home.’

‘My parents seemed to be unexpectedly pleased with my rescue attempt asking (as might be expected) WHAT are you going to do with it?’

‘Now, Christmas was not very far away and presents for relatives was always a problem , even for my much loved aunt Kath and uncle Fred.’

‘An inspired moment: “I think … I think I will give it to Kath and Fred for Christmas,’’ I replied.’

‘In the end it turned out that they were delighted with it. Fred appreciated church buildings and loved books, but I did have to avoid an explanation of how the said item was obtained.’

The Old Rectory garden in 2014. The poppies were planted by the Fearon Hall Scouts pack to mark the anniversary of the commencement of World War One.

The former rectory to Loughborough’s All Saints Parish Church is now a Museum run by volunteers from Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society. You can find out about the history of the Old Rectory here.