My model for ministry has been Mr Septimus Harding, the Warden of Hiram’s Hospital, since The Warden was assigned for a long-ago class. I think I have a copy of The Warden in a box in North Carolina, but when I saw the Everyman’s Library edition for only ¢2.49 at Oxfam, I couldn’t resist. (The BBC production of The Barchester Chronicles that combines The Warden with Barchester Towers is definitely worth a rental, download, or purchase as well. Donald Pleasance makes a moving Mr Harding, and Barchester Towers’s Mr Slope marks an early appearance by Alan Rickman!)


There may be better guides to pastoral conduct than “What would Septimus Harding do?” — but I venture to suppose that if all clergy were manifestly guided by that question, we would all be a lot better off.

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