Conrad Noel

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Conrad le Despenser Roden Noel (July 12, 1869 – July 2, 1942) was an English priest of the Church of England. Known as the "Red Vicar" of Thaxted, he was a prominent British Christian Socialist. His father was the poet Roden Noël.

Born in Kew, Noel was ordained in the Church of England and officiated in various parishes until 1910, when he became the vicar of Thaxted in Essex until his death in 1942. He joined the Independent Labour Party, but in 1911 became a founding member of the British Socialist Party.

Within the church at Thaxted, Noel hung the red flag and the flag of Sinn Féin alongside the flag of St George. This led to the "Battle of the Flags" with students from Cambridge leading attacks on the church to remove the flags; eventually a consistory court ruled against his displaying the flags and Noel obeyed the ruling. He founded the Catholic Crusade to propagate his views, which had some impact in the origins of Trotskyism in Britain.

He was a friend of Gustav Holst the composer who lived for some years in the village.

Noel also supported the British Provisional Committee for the Defence of Leon Trotsky, and signed a letter defending Trotsky's right to asylum and calling for an international inquiry into the Moscow Trials. [1]




  1. ^ Robert Jackson Alexander, International Trotskyism, 1929-1985: A Documented Analysis of the Movement. Duke University Press, 1991 ISBN 082231066X (p. 451)

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