The Church Times starting publishing a weekly crossword on 22 December 1989 (curiously it had a Christmas theme). The editor was Don Manley, who is still in situ and doing stalwart work. Over the years, I’ve set just over 100 of the roughly 1200 published puzzles (as of 1 December 2012).
Thematic puzzles for specific outlets can be a tall order. But religion is an area of human experience that reaches deep and has many resonances in the mental imagery of pretty well anyone – the deeply agnostic Thomas Hardy was hardly polite about the President of the Immortals but nonetheless used Biblical references widely; or consider Richard Dawkins’ professed admiration for the language of the King James Version. This wide basis in human awareness makes it a good subject for a thematic puzzle series. Think how daily newspaper puzzles make free use of St and CE and Rev, and there are plenty more references (Bel&Dr, anyone?) that can be deployed in a specialist publication like the Church Times. A setter will certainly pepper their grid with relevant thematic church-y words, but can also be assured that everyday words like STOP or HENCE or REVERSE will have useful thematic components. (At that point, even ‘a tall order’ turns into unduly lanky monks.)
My first appearance was just one week after the début with puzzle number 2, and that’s the first one to be put up.
Church Times 16 August 2002
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