Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"a flamboyant and idiosyncratic ultra-Romanist" concertina player

I suppose that there must be other priests who play banjo and fiddle but I have never met them. But once upon a time in England there was a priest, Fr. Kenneth Loveless, MBE, who was a master concertina player. Fr. Loveless, was born in 1911 and died in 1995. For half his life he was in  submarines of the Royal Navy, once an Anglo-Catholic hotbed, where he became  "a liberal imbiber of whisky, but a real good egg." The second half he was vicar of Holy Trinity, Hoxton, with a short stop at St. Peter's, London Docks. It is in the obituary of his successor at Hoxton, Bishop (then Fr.) Brian Masters, that Fr. Loveless is described as  "a flamboyant and idiosyncratic ultra-Romanist." All the while he played and studied that difficult contraption called the Anglo concertina. Many years ago I tried my hand at the English concertina, which is a much more cooperative beast than the Anglo. The English concertina is chromatic, that is, whether you push or pull the bellows you get the same note. But the Anglo concertina is diatonic, when you push you get a different note than when you pull (like a harmonica). So you don't just have to  keep the air moving, you also have to worry about which direction you are going.

Fr. Loveless learned the concertina from the acknowledged master, William Kimber, and in fact inherited Kimber's  concertina. He was heavily involved in the revival of Morris dancing. 

 Father plays for a Morris dance above.

Some pictures of Holy Trinity, Hoxton, give us some idea of what kind of religion he practiced:

One of the many things, which mystifies me, is why so many priests are, well, to put it frankly, just a little on the dull side. The best ones in my experience have some passion other than religion, which gives them something to put Jesus and the cure of souls ahead of. It is a little hard to put Jesus at the top of the list, if you don't have a list.

Fr. Kenneth Loveless MBE
Priest, Musician, Sailor, Morris Dancer
Former Vicar of Holy Trinity Hoxton,
Former Asst Curate at S. Peter's London Docks
N. 1911 O. 1995
Priest first!

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