Arthur Ransome Wiki

Mention of religion, including references to God or Gods or church, in the Swallows and Amazons series can give an insight into Arthur Ransome's views on these matters or into prevailing views of his contemporaries.


  • Even sub-lieutenants are God's creatures, although it's hard to believe it sometimes - Ted Walker (SW1).
  • When Nancy and Peggy are on the way back from the boathouse We were pretending she (Great Aunt Maria) was a heathen goddess, and she looked out when we thought she was asleep and saw us bowing our heads to the ground in the moonlight under her bedroom window (SD24)
  • Mr Duck says after they are fired at: those fellows …. were fairly asking the Devil to take his own, and he's done it, and I think the better of him. Shooting like that at a ship full of children! (PD34)


  • Cook says of the D's We must have them in their bedrooms like Christians again, ready for Mrs. Blackett coming home (PM30).
  • the Lapwing is a mission ship crewed by a he-missionary and a she-missionary (SW).
  • Titty has a half-crown postal order that had been sent her by her godmother to buy a new drawing-book (when they are totalling the cash they have to pay the pilot, WD21)

Observance of religious festivals[]

The mention or omission of religious observance on these days could be significant.

  • The Swallows' and Amazons' holiday on board Polly Ann with Captain Flint occurs during the Christmas holiday. (TOS)
  • Susan was given a first aid box for Christmas, the best of Susan's Christmas presents (PD1).
  • The events depicted in Coot Club start in the Easter holidays: Half-way through the Easter holidays, the letter from Mrs Barrable had come in the very nick of time .... and everything had been arranged in a couple of days (CC1); see also CC#Timeline
  • Dick says and at Easter we’re going to be here again (staying with the Admiral?) and I'll take photographs of all the birds nests (BS9).

Attendance at church; religious observance[]

  • It'll be nearer seventy since I brought her (Mrs Swainson) up here from the church down by Bigland, and she sat her down in that chair for the first time. (Mr Swainson, SD9).
  • A sermon: Captain Flint carves a wooden fish for the burglars to catch and then says They may as well have a sermon at the same time, so he writes in pencil in big letters along the side of the fish HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY (SA29).

Religious dispute[]

Religious people[]

  • Vicar at the Head of the Lake (SD13).
  • The old Horning parson: Tom and the Death and Glories see a rusty ancient bicycle with Dunlop tyres outside Mr Bixby’s bicycle shop, belonging to the "old parson". When he sees them they expected the usual cheerful enquiry as to how the birds were getting on. But though they saw that he knew them, he neither nodded nor spoke to them, and instead looked suddenly grave. Bill says that there’s another who think we done it, though Tom says He knows we wouldn’t (BS20). Later he bothers the D&G's parents: Bill's mother says The old Reverend come round and say he's sorry you're in trouble and what can he do about it ... I tell him best he can do is close his ears to evil tongues (BS21).
  • In The Picts and the Martyrs the Amazons are angels or martyrs:
Nancy says that if we all fairly bust ourself being angels she'll simply have to leave Mother alone (PM5).
Dorothea thinks of them as martyrs: I expect the real martyrs were just the same. The more the lions roared the less they let Nero or anybody see they cared. (PM8)
Timothy says to Nancy: lets see those shoulders .... I can't see any wings on them ... but I wouldn't be surprised to find you had hoofs and a tail (PM24).
  • When the land party was being stalked: It was like Christians waiting for the lions said Roger (GN5).

Religious buildings[]

  • Susan banked up the fire overnight like the Billies, and Titty says lets keep it alight for ever and ever like the fire in a savage temple that never goes out .... or in some churches (SA15).
  • Mr Duck says that beyond Dungeness Fairlight Church (is) another good mark for poor sailormen coming up Channel …. (PD8); and later returning up the English coast to Lowestoft the Wild Cat passes high on its hill, the church of Fairlight, a square dark tower, rising out of dark green trees (PD36)
  • Leaving Lowestoft the Wild Cat passes Kirkley Church and Pakefield Church (ML7) and then Walberswick with its church tower and windmill (ML8). Returning, they saw the stone cross on Dodman Point and the church of Fairlight (ML36)
  • Horning Church: Below Horning they passed a little church and a big house on the slope of a hill, with crowds of water-hens and black sheep feeding together by the waterside (CC2). Horning Church is a major sailing landmark.
  • They pass St Benet's Abbey, and when Dorothea sees the ancient ruins she imagines Tom as an outlaw asking for sanctuary from the Hullabaloos, and lets the sail flap (CC13)
  • Burgh St Peters and Beccles Churches: The Teasel tied up for the night near the Waveney Inn (CC20). They had moored in the dusk quite close to a little ancient church, with a tower built in steps, like a pyramid. "Burgh St Peters" the Admiral had said. .... The next day they had sailed on, and now, for a long time, the tower of Beccles Church had been in sight. At her home town of Beccles the church .... is built in two parts, the tower and the rest .... and they had a fine view from the wall of the churchyard (CC22).
  • Sailing down the River Orwell with Jim Brading, the Goblin approached Harwich Harbour and the little grey town, with its church spire and lighthouse tower (WD4). Later Jim says Keep her hearing like this, on Harwich Church spire (WD6). Approaching Holland, John on the cross-trees of the Goblin sees a church and then the church spires (over the sand-dunes) looked as though they were far inland (WD18). Returning, they see the tall tower of West Kapelle light, built on top of a church .... Harwich church (WD24).
  • Temple Island where the Swallows land (ML5). Missee Lee explained He (Olo Lee) had chosen the place for his glave .... That little house .... is the temple we built over his glave (ML13).