13. Rev R N Hetherington – Vicar 1951-1976
‘Father Hetherington’ was born in Alton Hants around 1909 and educated at University College London. He worked in a bank for 4 years before entering Lichfield Theological College in 1930 and was ordained in 1932. He served at St Luke’s Shepherds Bush, and then served as Assistant Curate at St Barnabas from 1934 to 1943. During this time he was chaplain to the Actors Church Union, and developed a friendship with Dame Sybil Thorndyke. In 1943 he became a Naval Chaplain. After the war, he became Vicar of St James-the-Great, Bethnal Green, where he developed an unlikely friendship with the Kray twins, who were said to idolize him. He conducted their mother’s funeral. He returned to St Barnabas as Vicar on 18th December 1951, and served as an immensely popular incumbent for the next 25 years. He had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, including several members of the Royal Family, and was able to secure the services of Princess Marie-Louise and Dame Sybil Thorndike to open bazaars at the church. He was said to be ‘everyone’s friend and counsellor, from dustmen to dukes’, and a ‘larger than life character’, and was apparently fond of his nickname – ‘the Dustmen’s Parson’. He was made a Canon Prebendary at St Paul’s Cathedral. He was vice president of the Prayer Book Society, was opposed to modern forms of liturgy and refused to use any modern translations of the Bible at St Barnabas. He retired from St Barnabas in 1976, when Princess Alexandra and family attended Evensong on 31/07/1976. He died in a nursing home in Ealing in January 1990.
Here are more photos of ‘Father Hetherington’
And here are photos of him with Dame Sybil Thorndyke and Princess Alexandra