Thoughts on railways, clergy, religion and the law

in a guest post prompted by our reporting of Chancellor Gau’s regretful refusal in Re St Bartholomew, Wick [2016] ECC Bri 3 to allow a coloured enamel image of Thomas the Tank Engine on a child’s grave, Michael Ainsworth muses on the law, railways, clergy and religion…

The instant case

Enamel images affixed to headstones wear even worse in the British climate than elsewhere in Europe where they are commonplace but end up looking tacky, which is why they should be resisted on aesthetic grounds. But a compromise might have been a discreet laser-etched image, which in some dioceses has proved acceptable and appropriate for other symbols of childhood (as have flowers and animals and tools of the trade for adults where there is a particular link). Old headstones often have such images, though carved rather than etched, which add interest even when the personal connection has been forgotten – so long as they are not inconsistent with the Christian religion. Does the Thomas corpus meet this criterion?

As the petitioners pointed out, his creator Wilbert Vere Awdry OBE (1911-97) was an Anglican priest; Continue reading