Edmund Hodgson

The following reminiscence is taken from the Oratory Parish Magazine for January 1963.

Fr. Edmund Hodgson, whose tablet appears among those of deceased Fathers in the Cloister, died suddenly in his room in the Oratory on 28th November, 1919. His ‘memories’ almost conclude this series of recollections.

Thomas Tarleton Hodgson joined the Oratory as a young man of twenty-two in the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, 1897, about three years before Fr. Charles Heurtley came. He could not take his own Christian name as there was already Fr. Thomas Pope in the House, so he took the name of Edmund after St. Edmund’s College, Ware, where he was educated.

Small of stature, and with a stutter which made his speech slow and his preaching such an effort that he was rarely asked to go into the pulpit, he was always ready to help in any way he could. Among other offices he held that of allocating the various Fathers to duties in the Sanctuary, and Fr. Edmund invariably took more than his share as subdeacon, assistant priest at Benediction – there was always two in those days – blessing the Holy Water in the Sacristy, and any “chore” he could, so that he might feel that he was doing his full share of the work, despite the fact that there were many things he was unable to do without great difficulty.

Owing to his speech impediment, his Mass was very long – 45-50 minutes. One vividly remembers Fr. Edmund going into the Sacristy in an evening of Lent to look at the Mass for the next day. Sometimes he would find that it had a very long Epistle or Gospel, or both, and he would murmur “Oh dear! Oh dear!” at the prospect of having to stutter through them. He would never say a short Votive Mass unless the rubrics allowed it. Nor allow a dispensation to be applied for on his behalf.

He had charge of what is now known as St. Philip’s House, then located in Oliver Road next to the Schools and in charge of Mr & Mrs Rawlins. The boys used to serve in the Church: the writer remembers one such, who afterwards became quite distinguished in the journalistic world. During the Christmas holidays he returned to his home near Cannon Hill Park, but each morning he walked to the Oratory (no No. 1 buses in those days) served Fr. Edmund’s Mass, lasting fifty minutes and then walked back home. An instance of real devotion to God and the Fr. Prefect of St. Philip’s Orphanage, as it was in those distant days.

Fr. Edmund worked for several years with Fr. Charles in the Little Oratory and held several offices inside the Oratory, taking up a considerable amount of his time, but the work of which those in the parish did not see. A layman brother of his, Commander Hodgson, R.N., served as Commander in H.M.S. Warspite with Fr. Antony Pollen during the 1914-18 War.

Fr. Edmund died at the age of 44, having spent exactly half of his life as an Oratory Father. Quiet, and a model of community observance, he was revered by all who knew him.