A vicar was forced to apologise after he told children at a primary school Christmas assembly that Santa doesn’t exist – and detailed the brutal reality of the story of St Nicholas.
Parents of youngsters at Charter Primary were furious when Rev Simon Tatton-Brown, 65, questioned the existance of Father Christmas in a festive assembly.
The Church of England vicar told the children that Santa was in fact based on a gruesome legend about St Nicholas, who brought three murdered children back to life.
He described how the children were killed by an evil butcher and placed in a barrel to be PICKLED and sold as ham.
Parents complained when their children – aged between five and 11 – came home shell-shocked and the vicar of St Andrew’s Church in Chippenham, Wilts., has now apologised.
But some furious mums have already pulled their little ones from the school’s Christmas concert at his church later this month.
Canon Tatton-Brown said: “I didn’t intended to upset anyone or to dispel children’s beliefs in Santa Claus, but I accept I was wrong.
“I understand there they’re [parents] disappointed. I got it wrong. It wasn’t intentional. I can’t undo it.”
The blunder came as the reverend – who is due to retire at the end of the year after 13 Christmases at his church – delivered his annual festive address to the local school last Wednesday.
Due to a technical issue he had to abandon his prepared talk and had to ‘ad lib’ without notes.
It is reported he also claimed stockings exist only because of a myth about St Nicholas dropping a gift down a poor family’s chimney which happened to land in a sock hung by the fire to dry.
He said his biggest concern was that he had spoilt the kids’ Christmases.
Thankfully, the very youngest children from the reception class were not part of the assembly.
The vicar wrote to headteacher Sarah Flack to apologise.
His letter said: “I was very sorry to hear of the trouble following my assembly.
“I talked about St Nicholas, and the stories about him, which tells us why Santa Claus brings gifts at Christmas.
“I am sorry if this was misunderstood.
“I fully support parents who want their young children to enjoy the Christmas stories, including Father Christmas, and I had no intention of undermining their belief in the reality of Santa Claus.”
Mrs Flack said she accepted his apology.
She said children had made comments to their parents at home but the school was looking forward to moving on.
She said the school would still use St Andrew’s for their carol service and would welcome a vicar at next year’s assembly.
According to the legend, St. Nicholas lived in southwestern Turkey in the 4th century and performed a number of miracles involving sailors and children.
One legend claims during a terrible famine a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, where he killed them, cured them in a barrel and planned to sell them.
Saint Nicholas – who was visiting the region to care for the hungry – resurrected the three boys from the barrel by his prayers.Vicar
Parents dropping their children off expressed their anger after Rev Simon Tatton-Brown told their children Santa was fake.
Linzi Merritt, whose son Levi, nine, attends the school, said: “We wouldn’t just walk into the church during one of his services and tell everyone there that Jesus isn’t real.
“He’s a person of authority and it’s not his place to be telling the children that.
“It’s the older children who have suffered the most because their parents can’t really talk their way out of it like the parents of younger children can.
“Loads of kids went home crying – it has ruined Christmas for them. It wasn’t a nice story for children to hear, there were lots more he could have told.
“Not only has he spoiled Father Christmas for them, a lot of them are now questioning the existence of the tooth fairy as well.
“The school should have known what he was going to come in to say, they could have stopped him.
“He has been coming in for years now so who know what else he has told them – he may have even been talking to them about Satan.
“He sent an email of apology but it really isn’t good enough in my opinion.”
Kerry Butler, whose daughter Kacey Butler, nine, goes to the school, said: “All the parents here are very upset.
“I think it’s a lot worse for the older children because a lot of them are on the cusp of not believing anymore and this could have pushed them over the edge.
“He’s coming back to the school for the carol concert. After this I don’t understand why he is allowed back.”
Another parent, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “My husband was one of the first people, if not the first, to contact the vicar about it.
“At first the vicar completely denied it, said he didn’t know what we were talking about, but now he was admitted it and apologised.
“He is in a position of trust and it was irresponsible of him to say what he did. He should not be trusted to go back into the school again.”
In a statement from the Diocese of Bristol, Rev Simon Tatton-Brown said: “In talking to the children about St Nicholas, I inadvertently said something that raised questions for them about the existence in Santa Claus.
“I am truly sorry for that and have worked with the school to apologise to parents and children for any upset caused.
“The reason I told stories of St Nicholas’ life is that he tells us of the meaning of Christmas.
“He was someone who gave away his inheritance and was sacrificially generous, especially to children.
“Of course, that is what the Christmas story tells us that God did in sending His Son, Jesus.”