Anthony Hart-Synnot was appointed vicar of St Stephen’s church in Watling Street in 1955. He succeeded Canon Harding. Born in 1917 of a very distinguished family, Anthony was a very colourful character, some would say eccentric, and many people have fond memories of him. He was very outspoken and would not hesitate to put his thoughts in the parish magazine for which he was often hauled over the coals. He used to deliver the magazines himself and would often stop for refreshments. Residents say that he would stop their vehicles to obtain lifts and sometimes would take collections on buses. He was fond of football and encouraging the young to play. May people remember him wearing football boots while performing marriage ceremonies in order to be ready for football practice afterwards. He ran a boys club in the church and there were many complaints about the boys’ unruly behaviour. The youths were allowed to get up to mischief. Some recall that “some of the lads hung the vicar. They tied a rope round his middle and hauled him up on a beam. All his small change fell from his cassock, much to everyone’s delight.” Above all he was a very generous man living by Christian principles. He would often give away money and possessions to the poor and needy, especially homeless youths. The Rev used to give the lads half a crown most weeks. Many of these youths took advantage of his generosity and moved into the vicarage. They did so much damage that the vicarage had to be demolished. In December 1974, the Rev. Hart-Synnot took his own life and was found dead in the vestry. His funeral was very well attended and reported in the local press.
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