Author Topic: still a church going lad


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still a church going lad
« on: August 21, 2005 »

As a child I was shepherded to church every Sunday by my parents. Now that I am no longer compelled to attend, I visit more than ever, with a shocking promiscuity. So long as it's empty and no one is trying to save my soul I'm happy. It's the architecture I come for, and the granite silence, and the stained glass showcase of tortured saints, stern lessons and coming attractions.

I scan the roll call of rectors who if we were still keeping really Old Testament time might walk amongst us yet. Wonder, as always, at the effectiveness of the Alpha Dot security marking system. Thumb through the lending library. Leave my mark in the visitor's book, counting the nationalities. Then I go outside and tramp across the necropolis to read the sad rhymes and do the even sadder math which is often carved on the gravestones.

I've visited hundreds of these places, moaning to my wife if they aren't old enough or the location not sufficiently pastoral or weedy depending on my requirements for the latest mission.

Today was one of those days. We went to the great Romney Marsh, which sits between Rye, Hythe, and perdition. In Bonnington we made the acquaintance of St. Rumwold. According to one source, he "must qualify for the title of England's most improbable saint. Born in Northamptonshire in AD 662, he had the power of speech at birth, preached at Brackley on the second day of his life and died on the third."

Later we visited St. Martin's in Aldington, home of Elizabeth Barton, aka the 'Nun of Kent':

A maidservant at the Archbishop's manor house during Henry VIII's reign, she seems to have suffered from something like goitre, leading to fits in which she prophesied and describes events which were happening elsewhere.... If she had confined herself to miracles - 'lighting candels without fire, moistning women's breasts that before were drie and wanted milke, restoring all sorts of sicke to perfect health, reducing the dead to life againe' - all would have been well. But then she tried to intervene in Henry VIII's divorce proceedings against Catherine of Aragon, prophesying that he would lose his throne if he went ahead with the divorce. For this unwise remark she was executed at Tyburn on a charge of high treason.
Keith Spence, Companion Guide to Kent and Sussex

Then we drove home, a lapsed Catholic and an extremely relaxed (actually asleep at this point) former Methodist, to contemplate leftovers.

A medieval Brady Bunch

Because they take the best pews

Stanley had a good run of it, followed closely by Wall

All anyone could ask for in an epitaph