"A Big Gay Holiday Camp"

In 1961 clergymen (they were all men in those days) from the Church of England Diocese of Southwark met for a conference at Butlins Holiday Camp at Bognor Regis. They were filmed for British Pathe news. As some are shown arriving in a 'Noddy' style train, the commentator describes the scene as
"a big gay holiday camp".
How language has changed! Various shots seem intended to show clergy relaxing like any other holiday camper. I fail to be convinced of this by the sight of a Bishop (Dr Mervyn Stockwood) buying a newspaper while wearing a purple cassock and carrying his crozier

And were viewers meant to be surprised at seeing a clergyman accept a drink from a barmaid in "Ye Olde Pig and Whistle"?

The whole feel conveys the impression of clergy as a breed apart, faintly ridiculous figures of fun. In 2009 there might still be some truth in that of course. To be a Christian at all you have to be prepared to be seen as foolish. I've long thought that to be ordained means being a fool for Christ's sake. Have a look at the film preview here and see what you think.


  1. Completely agree with you - it is as if they are an alien species. Not sure whether it is true today.. still get the 'mustn't swear in front of the vicar' piece.. and some kids at the after school club we run were surprised I knew the lyrics to a Lily Allen song.. not sure whether that was vicar related or not!


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