Betjeman to miss Abbey evensong: Letter

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The Independent Online
Sir: The ceremony for the dedication of Sir John Betjeman's stone in Poets' Corner has been fixed by the Westminster Abbey authorities for the evening of Monday, 11 November; and I learn indirectly that there will be no choral evensong in the abbey on that date - such as was thought a fitting prelude to the dedication of both the Trollope and the Housman stones. No doubt the reason is that the choir is required for Armistice Day services during the day, and must not be overworked.

It is pathetically ironical that Betjeman who, alone among those commemorated in Poets' Corner, was in his life a staunchly vocal and militant champion of the Church of England for its own sake, should be treated in this cursory fashion. To dedicate his stone without the accompanying glory of a full Church of England choral evensong is like burying a general without his full military honours.

Will the authorities now think again and defer the date of the ceremony to a date when the choir is in harness again, and the dedication can be carried out in the proper style?


President, the Betjeman Society

London, NW8