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Hart, Henry Bramley
1860-1937 (e.m. 1883)

WM minister in France, born at Westbury-on-Severn, Glos. on 16 June 1860. Descended from a long line of yeoman farmers, he began to preach at the age of 17 at a chapel built by his father and uncle. After a vision experienced while recovering from a serious illness, he trained for the ministry at Richmond College. His first appointment was to Boulogne, where he was secretary of the British Sailors' Institute. He then considered returning to London, but following an extraordinary petition to the WM Conference, signed by HM Consul and all the clergy and chief residents of Boulogne, requesting that he remain in France in the interest of the British community, he was appointed to the church in the rue Roquépine, Paris, where he officiated from 1887 to 1901. Before taking up this new appointment, he married Clara Liddell (1862-1954) and their two sons were both born in Paris. A broad churchman, Hart has been described as an unconventional man with 'a nature winsome in its appeal and full of charm'. A Methodist Recorder reporter who heard him preach in Paris in 1901, 'speaking to his people with the easy conviction of one who knows and is known by them', concluded that, had he remained in England, he would have been in great demand.

During his ministry in Paris the church became the spiritual home not only of the large British colony in the capital, but for American, French and even Russian Protestants. He attracted a congregation of varied social backgrounds ranging from the young and poor to the well-connected, including Robert Carmichael, brother-in-law of Paul and Jules Gambon, who became unofficial godfather to his younger son, Basil. After a year's respite, financed by his small private income, 'in order to recruit his strength', he resumed his ministry at Guildford, and then at Putney, filling each church in turn. He died in London on 31 January 1937.

His serenity at the time of his death left a deep impression on his younger son, the military strategist Basil Henry Liddell Hart (1895-1970), who served at Ypres and on the Somme in World War I. Following retirement from the Army on health grounds in 1927, he became well known for his writings on military matters, but found himself ostracized in World War II for his opposition to 'total war' and advocacy of a compromise peace. Later he was outspoken against the use of nuclear weapons. He received an honorary doctorate from Oxford, was made an honorary fellow of Corpus Christi, Cambridge and was knighted in 1966.

Sources

  • Sir Giffard Martel, An Outspoken Soldier (1949)
  • A. Danchev, Alchemist of War. The Life of Basil Liddell Hart (1998)

Entry written by: JAH
Category: Person

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