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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, The Dunedin Affair by Bob Simmonds describes the treacherous treatment suffered by the Rev. Henry Jenner during rise of Anglo-Catholicism in the Church of England in the 19th century.

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The Dunedin Affair By Bob Simmonds on The Table Read Magazine
The Dunedin Affair By Bob Simmonds

The Dunedin Affair

The Dunedin Affair – The Bishop Who Lost His See by Bob Simmonds details the deception and betrayal dealt to an English vicar, Rev. Henry Jenner, who literally went to the end of the world to fulfil his Church of England ministry in the late 1800s.

The subtitle, The Bishop Who Lost His See, refers to a bishop’s area of responsibility, which Bob Simmonds has personal experience of having found himself on the wrong side of the Church authorities. Hailing from the same part of Kent as his subject provided Simmonds with the inspiration for him to dig deeper into the story that he stumbled across whilst working in New Zealand, and to research the ‘affair’ which could have so easily been lost in time.  

This is an historic account of the way the Rev. Henry Jenner suffered at the hands of those in authority in the Church of England at the end of the 19th century. Plucked from a quiet rural parish in Kent, Jenner was consecrated in Canterbury Cathedral to be the first Bishop of Dunedin in New Zealand. After sailing half-way around the world he was to find himself the target for the prejudice and frustrations of a variety of conflicting groups shaping this relatively new colony, and, after travelling on horse and stagecoach to visit sheep stations and gold-mining towns, and to meet as many people as possible, he was found to be unacceptable to a small but influential committee, and had to return to England. 

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Once back in his Kentish village he naturally hoped to be given a Bishopric somewhere where they would appreciate him. However, he was sadly to endure the all too common experience of being rejected, and his gifts and abilities denied, by the church hierarchy. He was to spend the rest of his life as Vicar in the same rural parish, overlooked and snubbed by his fellow Bishops, and denied the chance to serve in a more creative way the church that he loved.  

The Dunedin Affair provides a background to an objective analysis of the rise of Anglo-Catholicism in the Church of England, and the accompanying ritualism in worship and the creative developments in neo-Gothic art and architecture. Featuring copies of letters from Bishops and priests, items in both the British and New Zealand press of the time, and over sixty pictures illustrating how the situation unfolded, The Dunedin Affair is not a heavy read. Rather, it is a light-hearted and edifying look at the social structures both in a new colony and the church in the late 19th century.

Bob Simmonds

Bob Simmonds is a de-frocked Anglican priest who came across this ‘affair’ when doing an exchange with the Vicar of Oamaru in the Diocese of Dunedin. He had grown up in the part of Kent where Jenner had been vicar, and this, along with his own rejection by the church authorities, led him to research this book.

He has written several other books, all mainly to do with the local history of places where he has lived. As well as being a Vicar Mr. Simmonds has also been a Careers Adviser, Oxfam bookshop manager, NHS volunteer manager, and third hand on a dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack. 

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Independently published – The Dunedin Affair – The Bishop Who Lost his See is available in paperback (ISBN No: 978139997137) priced £10.00 at Waterstones and on eBay priced £12.99 including p&p.

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