|Reverend Simon Tatton-Brown|
infuriated his flock by telling the truth
A vicar infuriated parents by telling their children that Father Christmas was not real at a primary school assembly
A vicar has been forced to apologise after claiming at a primary school assembly that Father Christmas does not exist and recounting the gruesome story of Saint Nicholas.
Reverend Simon Tatton-Brown infuriated parents of youngsters at Charter Primary by questioning the existence of Santa.
He told children that Father Christmas was based on a grisly legend about Saint Nicholas, who bought three murdered children back to life.
The Church of England vicar described how the youngsters 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But some mothers have already withdrawn their children from the school's Christmas concert at his church later this month.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 week.
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 Christmas stockings exist only due to 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 Christmas for the kids.
Fortunately, the very youngest children from the reception class were not part of the assembly.
The vicar wrote to head teacher 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 South Western Turkey in the fourth 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.