Records of Reverend Canon Stanley Evans



Admin History:

Stanley George Evans (1912-1965) was the son of Sidney Evans. He was educated at Westminster City School, King's College London and the University of Leeds before attending the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield. Between 1935 and 1942 he had three assistant curacies at St Stephen, Shepherd's Bush, St Clement, Barnsbury and St Andrew, Plaistow. He became quickly disillusioned with the political persuasion of his colleagues remarking of one vicar: 'Seems unable to look at matter from Christian point of view. Somehow Stanley Baldwin gets in the way.' Despite this early attraction to Christian socialism, and a recommendation that he be turned down for the priesthood, Evans was then ordained. However, his early career, not unsurprisingly, was not vastly successful and he spent the years between 1942 and 1946 as assistant curate at St Stephen, Portland Town, as well as being chaplain to the RAF (Obit. The Times; Leech, 'Stanley Evans: back street pastor', pp.5-6; Who was who, pp.357-8).

The slow start to his career may also be attributed to his connections with the Communist Party (his membership is uncertain) and his communist and Stalinist sympathies were well known. In 1943 he published Churches in the USSR and in 1949 he reported the Colonel Mindszenty trial in the Daily Worker. He chaired the British Soviet Friendship Society and drew considerable criticism for a glowing memorial service he gave for Stalin in 1953. In 1955 he took a group of clergy to Moscow. However, by the 1950s Evans had joined the many communist intellectuals who moderated their opinions about the USSR and he published Russia Reviewed. It was at this time that he got his first parish, that of Holy Trinity, Dalston (Obit. The Times; Leech, 'Stanley Evans: back street pastor', pp.6-7; Who was who, pp.357-8).

Although there was initial opposition to Evans's appointment he became a popular vicar with parish life organised around the parish mass and parish meeting. He held services on the streets to 'take the church to the people', and in 1962 wrote The church in the back streets. He remained committed to left wing secular politics running lectures on Christians, race and racism in Dalston and becoming nationally involved in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. His one major text, The social hope of the Christian church (1965) explored the social content of the teaching of Christ in historical context, from the time of the Roman Empire to the twentieth century (Obit. The Times; Leech, 'Stanley Evans: back street pastor', pp.6-7; Who was who, pp.357-8).

Through the first part of the 1960s Evans's career was controversial but successful. In 1960 he was appointed by the Bishop of Southwark as canon residentiary to Southwark Cathedral and he became a key figure in 'South Bank religion' involved in debates about 'the new theology'. In 1962 he gave the first R H Tawney memorial lecture on 'Equality'. He was at the height of his career when he was killed in a car crash while returning from an anti-nuclear demonstration. In 1939 he had married Anastasia Nicholson and at the time of his tragic death he left behind his wife and two daughters (Obit. The Times; Leech, 'Stanley Evans: back street pastor', pp.6-7; Who was who, pp.357-8).


U DEV represents most of the papers and comprises Evans's subject files (1929-1964) which include files on the Diocese of London (1935-1955), files on an anti-fascist demonstration (1936) and the international peace campaign (1937-1941), files from the 1930s on Japan, China and Germany, a file on Convocation (1940-1957), St Marylebone rural deanery (1942-1950), a file on the USSR (1943-1954), files on India and Greece from the 1940s, one on the Society of Socialist Clergy and Ministers (1946-1958), files on the Workers' Education Association from the 1940s and files created as a result of lectureships held with the London Cooperative Society, Oxford University and the London County Council, several files from the 1940s onwards on the United Nations Organisation and on international friendship societies with Poland, the USSR and China, from the 1950s there are files for the Christian Peace Group, the Movement for Colonial Freedom, the East London History Group and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, there is a file for the Christian Socialist Movement (1961-1965), another for the Committee for Democratic Rights in the USA (1961-1964), one for the Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and other miscellaneous subject files from the early 1960s (this list is not exhaustive).

Also in the collection are scrap books (1938-1965), some devoted to local affairs and others to international affairs. The focus of the latter is the church in the USSR and other communist countries as well as countries in Indo-China. There are separate scrap books for the Caribbean, Guatemala and Afghanistan. There is a series of scrap books devoted to the parish of Holy Trinity with St Philip, Dalston, London (1955-1960) and another series devoted to the nuclear bomb (1958-1965). The collection also contains Stanley Evans' research collection comprising notes, notebooks and texts on a variety of topics including Christian Sociology, Marxism, economics, colonial history, church history and politics, political theory and the church in Russia and Eastern Europe. His diaries (1937-1956) chronicle overseas trips made to Germany, Russia and Eastern Europe and there are twelve sermons in the collection (1934-1965). Miscellaneous material in the collection includes printed pamphlets on a variety of topics, some of which are on Christianity and Marxism, and some miscellaneous correspondence. There are also some miscellaneous printed papers, articles and press cuttings (1943-1960). Some of these are pasted into the pew rent account book of St Stephen the Martyr, St Marylebone (1876-1898).