The Yew tree in Bray Parish churchyard is said to have been planted by the vicar of Bray, a cleric whose flexible attitude to his office has earned him immortality, via a song.
Between 1533 and 1559 and from 1633 to 1715, the British Church went through a series of dramatic changes due to changing monarchs and their differing religious beliefs and in these periods it was very hard for a member of the Church to keep his position without some very hasty reversals in his own beliefs. From the song it would appear that at least one vicar did change his views with each monarch, although at some cost to his credibility.
Quite which Vicar of Bray the song refers to is unclear, but the most likely candidate is Simon Aleyn (1540–1588), who was vicar of Bray Church through the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, seeing swings from Catholic to Protestant and back again.
The Tree, and the Vicar, are also remembered in an article written by George Orwell in 1946 entitled A Good Word for the Vicar of Bray.
Can you find the tree in the Churchyard? If so, let us know and send us a picture.
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