You do love my little trips into the 17th/18th century don’t you? 🙂 ( well…you tell me you do ).
I like writing them! And since I am sitting here feeling sorry for myself for developing a nasty case of the head cold ( or in 17th century speak a rheum ), and I don’t fancy doing any painting ( my nose would dribble too much anyway), we shall shoot off again into that fascinating century.
We have been to a Masquerade and a Masque. We have sampled the delights of the coffee house. We have rambled along the streets of the capital, discovered the delights of the Pleasure Garden and the Royal Hospital at Chelsea.
Where else is there for us to go?
Well…yes we could go to church!
But in the 17th century that wasn’t terribly exciting or adventurous. Unless you were a recusant!
Now, a recusant was someone who refused to attend the services of the Church of England. They might originally have been a Catholic ( when of course the accepted Church was that of Protestantism, here in England Scotland and Wales. ) who still hankered after the Mass in Latin. They may have been simply disaffected with the accepted Church, or they may have been just plain pagan. Yes, there were still, in certain rural parts, people to whom Christianity was a mystery, people who had never really engaged with it. Thankfully.
II you were caught, you were fined hugely. You might have been imprisoned too. And occasionally you might have died for your faith…or lack of it. So most people paid lip service to the conventions and avoided trouble. Or they paid the fines.
No, not exciting – unless you have a preacher upon whose every word you can hang? ( Sometimes literally!)
Let’s nip into one of those newly re- built churches of London; the ones that were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and see what the theme of the day is. If we sit at the back…we can easily slip out again! 😉
St. Benet Fink in London before it was demolished in the 19th century.
Let’s slide in to the back pew of *St. Benet Fink, ( I kid you not..a silly name I own it….but a true one.) on Threadneedle Street. There is a sermon going on.
” And I say unto you, you have sinned…sinned and are stooped in filth…” Aha! One of Pillock’s.
No…genuinely. The Reverent Pillock. His full Baptismal name is – Praise In Loud Lyrics Oh Contumacious Kindred. The Reverent Kindred, but he is ever known as Sin and Damnation Pillock! ( Truly they DID have some strange names at this time…I’m not pulling your leg!)
The Reverent Pillock perhaps?
” Exasperate your hearts, you know it to be true. In the deepest well of your being you are wading in sin. Lift your eyes to the Heavens and ask God to reach down and execute you, for you are in dire need of Saveloy.”
Ah yes…his other name, his nickname if you like is, Drivel Pillock! He was wounded in the head at the battle of Edgehill in the Civil War and ever since then he has been unable to q u i t e achieve the right word….in the right place. A Mr. Malaprop.
There is a full house. There always is. His sermons are an education.
” People may say- God has fornicated us…yes…he has completely constricted us to the depths of Satan’s dwarf!”
There’s a lot of nodding of heads and tittering of…well…titters.. 😉
We look around.
Ah… Mrs. Bunintheoven. Now she is a recusant, a Catholic from Ireland. But she doesn’t mind coming to church to show of her fine clothes and her brood of children. 11 now and…we see there is another on the way.
Mr. Bunintheoven isn’t here. He is a Master Baker and has dispensation to be at home…baking. He works all night and sleeps by much of the day. Mmm, and other things.
Lady and baby 1680 Dutch .Mrs Bunintheoven?
Sitting right at the front, is a stalwart of the church, Patience Isavertu. She is married to that old codger ( at least thirty years her senior ), Diligence Isavertu. They are Hugenots and have come over from the Continent where they were persecuted for their Puritan faith. Here they have found a nice place amongst the artisans of London and are well known for the fine fabric they weave. And Mrs. Isavertu is noted for her lovely embroideries.
Mr & Mrs Isavertue? A very rare early 18thc. double dummy board from Bolling Hall Yorks. U.K. by kind permission of the owners.
The Reverent has worked himself in to a froth. A right Royal prickle. < ahem>.
“….from Clerical times, there has been an idea of feminine booty. An ideal sought after, fraught over. A kind of Holy Gruel!”
His favourite theme…women and their vanity, men and their lusts?
“Men have sought to possess, to own the immaculate ( Heavens..he got that one right!). “Was not Helen of Troy the face that lunched a thousand shops?”
” But a wicked woman who was unfashionable to her husband. A parasol of beauty but nevertheless the acne of adulterous woman kind.”
The Reverent is summing up after two hours of rant! He is very fond of all words ‘dirty’.
“Foulness is amongst us. Some people are veritable sowers. ” Mrs Isavertu looks up, a frown on her brow. English of course isn’t her first language.In her head she is listening to her own tongue but her ears hear something quite different. Does he mean that people who are sewers are corrupt? She pinches her lip with her teeth. Oh dear, she doesn’t look very happy.
” Middens…. their lives are middles with all the filmy rhubarb, the nosy besmirching pollination one can imagine.”.
Goodness…poor Mrs. Isavertue, looks ready to burst into tears.
” All will be saved…. God is Mercurial. He will forgive. Search your lives, every corner, every dim regress, every crook and fanny. Confess, stitch out your homes to his measliness.”
Poor Patience looks a little better.
Girl with black gloves. Mid 18thc. Chateau de Malle France.
She catches the eye of a rather pretty woman in a saffron gown holding a fan in her black gloved hand. A series of emotions passes over her face. Surprise, she scowls- annoyance, she tosses her head up- pride, she smiles with her mouth ( not her eyes )- sarcasm?
This is Widow Ophra Mann, from the other side of the river. What is she doing here? She belongs amongst the lower class of Southwark, the stews and bath houses, the roaring public alehouses and the ( God forbid) theatres!
She is an actress! And we all know what THAT means.
The congregation is ready to go home. Patience lifts her eyes to the church roof.
A crucifixion dummy board set. Church in Cyprus 19th c.? By kind permission of Dr. Clare Graham
However did this manage to escape the rigorous iconoclastic purges of the past few years?
Double standards of course…. do one thing…profess another. Patience Isavertue ‘harrumphs’ in irritation and stands ready to file into the aisle.
” Oh how nice to see you once more Mrs. Mann.” says the Reverent as the pretty lady passes.He pumps her hand enthusiastically ” I trust you are in good stealth? ” Ophra Mann frowns…and then the brow clears,
” Yes indeed Reverent. I am well. I am staying with my married sister Mrs. Amanta Fleece in the city. Perhaps you might care to visit?”
There is a whispered conversation and the two part.
“Mmm?” thinks Patience, ” there is more to this than meets the eye !”
Mrs Isavertue takes a turn around the newly refurbished church. White walls, no painting. Good. No statues. Good. But what is THIS?
Aaron, early 18thc. Church in the East of England
A dummy board figure of an Old Testament saint! High up in the rafters of a side chapel. Whatever do they want him for?
And on the other side another one to match!
Moses early 17thc. ditto above
(One of a pair of Double Standups!!),
They think they are beautifying the church but graven images are not needed in such a holy place. One needs to focus the mind. Plain white walls and a lack of decoration does that perfectly.
She stomps out after her elderly husband, the last to leave.
” Thank you Reverent Pillo…..Kindred for a most edifying sermon. ” he is heard to say.
Dilligence makes his way slowly ( he is a bit bent with all that leaning over the loom), down the street.
The Reverent Pillock locks the church and hurries away!
“Pah” says Patience. “We all know where he is going.”
It’s a well known fact that the Rev has got a thing going with The widow Mann.
All this talk of sin and damnation. Needs to look into every dim regress and crook and fanny of his own soul. And him a married man. Disgusting. I’d have nothing to do with it all. Not catch me fraternising with…”
” Mrs Isavertue..” Patience hears her name and turns. The pretty lady is tripping lightly over the churchyard to greet her.
” Oh Mrs Mann I’m so ploosed to see you. Your new kirtle, the one I have been embroodering with rises, will be ready next week. Would you like to call for a farting?”
“Indeed I would, thank you. ” is the reply.
Ah well…… needs must when the Devil drives… Poor Patience says to herself!
The new kirtle embroodered with rises? Chateau de Malle girl with fan. Mid 18thc. French.