After a wait of six years, the Reverend Susan Height, Priest in Charge of St Faith’s, North Dulwich finally moves into her new vicarage in September. When she was selected in 2011 she fully expected that she, her husband (and their chickens) would move into a new vicarage next to the church on Red Post Hill within two years. It was not to be, the Diocesan authorities had development plans for the large site and proposed rebuilding the vicarage, which was suffering considerable problems with subsidence, and building more houses on the site to offset the building costs of a new vicarage. What they had overlooked however was that there was a restricted covenant on the land which had been granted to the church by the Dulwich Estate when the church and vicarage were built. To make matters worse, a landmark tree fronting the road was found to be diseased and had to be felled. All the subsequent wrangling over legal and planning issues has meant that the priest has been living in limbo elsewhere in rented accommodation.
The Diocese and the Estate finally reached an agreement whereby the vicarage freehold is vested with the Diocese and the remainder of the site will be developed by them to provide two new houses which will be placed on sale and the proceeds split between the Diocese and the Estate. The new 4 bed roomed vicarage incorporates all the latest features – a low carbon footprint, a rain collection tank concealed in the drive which feeds the toilets and the green roof, solar panels which heat both water and the under-floor heating system, insulation panels and triple glazing. The parish is holding an ‘Open House’ to view the new vicarage on 16th September from 2-6pm with a hog roast. All are welcome to drop in.
Susan Height is also to be installed as Vicar (now that there is a vicarage), on 10th September at 6pm by the Bishop of Woolwich. All are invited to this service, which will be followed by a ‘house blessing’.
Susan grew up in Rugby, attending the local parish church where her parents were members. She entered on a nursing career, becoming a midwife and having two children of her own. A visit as a teenager to a Franciscan friary in Dorset had left a lasting impression on her however and when her children reached the age of 11 and 12 in 1999, she began to seriously consider training for the Ministry. She had a placement in London’s Mile End, in an anglo-catholic parish which she found a very satisfying experience, She then served her four year curacy in an evangelical alliance church in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Her first post was then as a team vicar in the Solihull area of Birmingham where she served for six years.