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This week local historian John Taylor takes a look at religion in Bletchley during World War 2.

Wartime Life
St Martin's Church Fenny Stratford - little has
changed in appearance over the past 60 years

Sunday Citizen October 13th 2002

We start our column this week by reading that a local minister has suddenly upped sticks and done a runner for reasons totally unspecified while a village vicar has been hurriedly put out to grass for instructing the choirboys in rather more than singing practice!

Still, on a more positive note the Freeman Memorial Church raised £10 for the National Children's Home by carol singing and a concert while in St Martin's Hall a short service had been held for the Army Cadet Force and other town youth organisations. " Meanwhile at a social evening in the Salvation Army hall it was a joyous occasion when 45 scouts and guides waved goodbye to fellow scout Albert Blackwell, off to take his place at the Front.

For those on leave, Mr Papworth's band provided community singing entertainment and the Billeting Officer, Mr Jones, also boosted morale by arranging a selection of film shows.

Yet despite the uncertainty of the times, as always romance could blossom and at the wedding of two of the town's more prominent religious workers the Methodist Scouts formed a guard of honour.

The bride, a lay preacher, had been teaching at a local school while, as a native of Liverpool the groom, the Rev Arthur Yates, had not long arrived in the town.

They probably would not have approved of the antics of a group of American airmen, who managed to persuade a young lady to participate in some rather unorthodox night manoeuvres.

Elsewhere the Bletchley Fur Fanciers Society was a recently formed offshoot from the previous Bletchley and District Fur and Feather Domestic Club.

Gardeners were not forgotten and at their gardeners Brains Trust the first groundbreaking question was 'Are parsnips worth growing?'

This sorted those a few peas short of a pod from those who knew their onions, and it was finally decided that parnsips would be an excellent standby if the brussel sprouts failed.

Perhaps it was opportune that at 73 Bletchley Road, Weatherheads were putting their 49ft by 12ft greenhouse, complete with heating installation, up for sale - a snip for anyone with £35 to spare.

Now back from her honey-moon in Richmond, as Captain of the 2nd Bletchley Methodist Guide Company Mrs Yates was holding a party in the Bletchley Road church and to enliven proceedings all the scouts came along as well.

Meanwhile, at St Martin's Church the Rev Wheeler announced to a hushed annual meeting of the Church Council that the Rev Snell would be leaving the town to seek 'wider experience' - in Willen-hall - and his place would eventually be taken by the Rev Suffers, from Oxford.

Bletchley United Christian Council, fearing it would lead to a commercialisation of the Sabbath, were up in arms about d recent council decision to sanction the opening of local studios on Sundays.

The manager of the Studio Cinema was hardly in a Christian frame of mind when some-one pinched his cinema screen!

Further violating the Ten Commandments, the husband of a local pub landlady was then discovered to be having an affair with a woman in Victoria Road and a decree nisi resulted.

However, at least for the local Baptists perhaps happier, times were prophesised by the welcome arrival of the Rev Walter Richardson, fulfilling a position left vacant, for some 18 months, by the mysterious disappearance of the previous incumbent.

With all this scandal around it could drive a person to drink and small wonder that the bar takings of the Bletchley Workingmen's Club were £2,000 up on the previous year.

And so we close our brief glimpse at religious affairs in Bletchley, played out with the joyful news that the last instal-ment had just been paid on the Freeman Memorial's new piano.