Reverend Ralph Gardner
Vicar of St Mary's Church 1927 - 1942
Ralph Gardner was born in Camden, London in 1893, the son of Edward and Clara Gardner. He was the eldest of two children, his brother Leslie being born in 1897.
He was Vicar of the Parish for fifteen years and saw many changes in that time.
An edition of the Chelmsford Chronicle dated July 1932 carried this small article which gave an insight into Rev. Gardner’s thoughts at that time.
“Keep Sunday Dull”
The Rev. Ralph Gardner, vicar of South Benfleet, in a letter to his parishioners declares that the fourth Commandment is now re-interpreted in the following terms:-
…..but on Sunday, the dullest of all the week, thou shalt not smile nor go to the pictures.
“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it dull. Six days shalt thou labour, laugh, and be happy, but on Sunday, the dullest of all the week, thou shalt not smile nor go to the pictures.
“Sunday is the day of taboos and restrictions; the day of forbiddings; the day of a sort of spiritual Dora.
“There is nothing which arouses the contempt and violence of English people more than hypocrisy”
The Reverend Gardner and his wife Mabel enjoyed their time at Benfleet and an account of his days at South Benfleet was published in three parts in the Parish Magazine.
Information on Reverend Gardner has been hard to find but we do know that he had at least one child, Christopher, who was a pupil at ‘Stanley House School’.
We believe Reverend Gardner died in Cambridge in the early 1970s.
If any readers can add to our information with more details of Reverend Gardner or photos, please contact us.
In response to the above request, Stuart Dobson has added a comment below along with photos that are on this page. All of the images credited to Stuart relate to the comment added by him.