An Assemblage of Clergy

Hoar frost
Autumn Colour

Herne the Shopkeeper

4 October 2010

The town of Windsor is entirely devoted, heart and soul, hook, line and sinker, to genteel commerce. I have never seen so many posh teashops. I have never been offered so many florally-sprigged household utensils for sale. I could be clothed head to foot in drab green waxed cotton. I could also be eating a chocolate vampire, available in boxes of six for Hallowe’en.

Resisting this – for who knows what supernatural effects follow when you bite a chocolate vampire? – I set out to find the assemblage of clergy to which I have been sent. Astutely, I followed the man wearing floppy orange cotton trousers decorated with Celtic symbols. There is always one of these at any assemblage of clergy. If I can get him to sit next to the also-statutory man with weird sideburns, I will take a photo.

We have been to evensong in St George’s Chapel. They directed us into the stalls. I went to the end, as instructed, and found myself isolated between the stalls of two knights of the Garter recently deceased. You can tell this by the suspended wreath, the upturned seat, the black cord, and the laminated A4 notice. I was pleased to sit next to Lord Bingham, albeit deceased.

A Guest Post

6 October 2010

We welcome to the blog today Andrew Melville, doctor of the church and sometime Rector of the University of St Andrews. He writes:

There are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland: there is king James, the head of the commonwealth; and there is Christ Jesus, the king of the Church, whose subject James the Sixth is, and of whose kingdom he is not a king, not a lord, not a head, but a member.

For scenic interest, here is a picture of the playing fields of Eton. If you get tired of disputation with Melville you can draw in the Battle of Waterloo being won.

The Playing Fields of Eton

Herself: Why suddenly Andrew Melville, a man who deserves most of the obloquy heaped upon John Knox? Not but what I agree with him about the monarchy!

K: At the time of devolution, as Ministers of the Crown and Crown Servants devised their schemes, the Church coughed in a discreet but marked manner and came to meet the Secretary of State to ask, in effect, whether he had considered the implications for the head of one kingdom of devolving the power of the other. I am not sure that they did not quote the above from Melville. They were at length reassured.

Severed Head: Those can’t be the playing fields of Eton. There is no wall.

A Further Guest Post

7 October 2010

Andrew Melville writes:

Dear Mrs Thomson, I have been called in to advise your daughter on the subject of the monarchy, anent quilk I am gratified to note that you agree with me. While able enough to deal with the monarchy at a remove and adherent to the self-denying – albeit pusillanimous – stratagem of agreeing with anything the parishioners say about it, she finds herself now within the policies of the castle of Windsor and obliged to rise to her feet should a royal duke happen to turn up at evensong. This, she says, is idolatry, and I am bound to say I agree with her. I will be writing to you under separate cover and at length anent your views on my legacy in the culture of Scotland, and I will be prosecuting my arguments with rigourouse dilligence.


A. Melville

Herself: The more usual spelling is ‘quhilk’.  Should any royal duke quhatsumevir appear at a service, perhaps he deserves some sort of recognition in these evil days.  I await Dr Melville’s communication with trepidation.

Windsor CastleWhat We Have Learned

10 October 2010

1. That after the execution of Charles I, his body was brought to Windsor and into the Deanery. They put it down on the table and sewed the king’s head back on, and then the next day they buried him in the chapel vault. The present Dean, who entertained us to drinks the other evening, has the table in his study, and kindly cleared his papers off it so that we could see it. I could have taken a photograph, but, anticipating the views of Dr Melville (‘Idolatry!’) I did not. It looks like a table.
2. That therefore, although I doubt if the then Dean carried out the reconstruction himself, he belongs to the category of reconstructive Deans, along with Dean Armitage Robinson of Wells. During the Monmouth rebellion the windows of the Lady chapel of Wells Cathedral were broken by pikemen, as high as they could reach the glass with their pikes. The broken pieces were found much later when the moat of the bishop’s palace was dredged. Dean Robinson put them back together in abstract jigsaws and they were reinstalled.
With the category of reconstructive Deans we should associate the order of the Padres Reparadores or Repairing Fathers. They are called something else everywhere except in Spain, naturally, but they do exist and I have stayed with them. It was a very cold night and I was the only pilgrim in the hostel, and in fulfilment of their repairing mission they gave me a whole wheelbarrowload of firewood. I slept in front of the fire.
3. That the vault in the middle of the Quire of St George’s Chapel, where Charles I is buried, also houses the mortal remains of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII, and an unnamed infant child of Queen Anne, all commemorated together on one plain black marble slab in the floor. This is also a national allegory. The vault with its unlikely collocation of persons represents the Turmoil of Events, and the slab represents the Shield of Tidiness and the Helmet of Brazen Imperturbability.
4. That a Military Knight of Windsor is what used to be called a Poor Knight – until they objected – and that they come to matins on a Sunday morning in a small but gleaming cohort, with epaulettes and swords and scarlet military frock-coats and white gloves and plumed hats carried under their arms. And they march in and out. I can see that the congregation might object if required to wear white gloves, let alone swords, but I am wondering if they could be trained to march.

I was forewarned about the Military Knights so I have sent Dr Melville safely out of the way this morning to look at Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, which I expect he will like.

Herself: I seem to remember, from a biography of George V, that he was married at St George’s Chapel. Probably so were many other royal personages, but they were probably not as drunk as George. He had to be held on either side to keep him upstanding. But that was presumably because he did not like the bride, Caroline, I think. No doubt this is all in Wikipedia, and may be none too reliable.

... Wikipedia, however, says they were married at the Chapel Royal, St James’. my memory at fault.

Severed Head: Why are there no Educational Knights at Windsor? They could come on Sunday mornings in suitable sub fusc, with mortar boards and canes, and even pieces of chalk to throw at the choir boys if they don’t pay attention.

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