Canon sorry for 'turnip tossers' quip

A CANON is asking for forgiveness from the people of Suffolk after describing them as “turnip tossers”.But clergyman Rob Morris said he can't remember making the comment, which was reported by comedian Griff Rhys Jones in the build-up to a new series of television show Restoration.

By Jonathan Barnes

A CANON is asking for forgiveness from the people of Suffolk after describing them as “turnip tossers”.

But clergyman Rob Morris said he can't remember making the comment, which was reported by comedian Griff Rhys Jones in the build-up to a new series of television show Restoration.

Mr Morris is backing a project to restore a 12th Century grammar school in King's Norton, near Birmingham, but it faces competition in the regional heats from the bid to preserve a Second World War transmitter block at Suffolk's Bawdsey Manor.


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Mr Rhys Jones said there had been dismay in Suffolk that it had been put in the same region as the Midlands and added Mr Morris had expressed surprise at “being lumped in with the turnip tossers”.

But the Canon told the EADT: “I really don't remember saying it and those who know me best can't imagine that I did. It was unfortunate to say the least.

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“It's only possible that Griff said something amusingly rude about Birmingham and that may have prompted me to reply in kind.”

He added: “It's certainly not my opinion of the lovely people of Suffolk. I have got a cousin who lives just north of Leiston and good friends in Ipswich and Aldeburgh and I would like to still receive Christmas cards from them!”

The two projects will also be up against a bid to restore Newstead Abbey, the former home of Lord Byron, in a programme due to be aired on BBC2 next month.

Viewers vote for the building they would most like to see restored and the winner will go on to the national final.

Mr Morris said his group's bid was to restore the grammar school and a 15th Century timer-framed house in King's Norton, which the parish has owned since the 1930s.

“It should be a good contest. It is ironic that Suffolk, a place where there are lots of medieval buildings, has put forward a project which is 70 years old and Birmingham, which people generally think of as an industrial metropolis, is putting up two significant medieval buildings,” he said.

“Obviously, I hope we win, but I also hope that because of this television show, these buildings, plus others, get support from people who will not just restore them but preserve them too.”

The Bawdsey bid is to restore a Grade II-listed transmitter block, which provided radar services during the Second World War and particularly in the Battle of Britain.

Mr Morris, minister at the St Nicolas Church in King's Norton, said the clamour surrounding the bid and television show was “terribly exciting” - but it did not excuse any slurs on rival bids.

“One of the many virtues we celebrate as a parish is diversity and the church is working very hard to make sure it is inclusive, so I would regret calling an entire county 'turnip tossers',” he said.

“I know the people of Suffolk have quite a sense of humour and sometimes call themselves these things, but I am really sorry if I caused any upset.”

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