Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Funny Peculiar

The question torments me still: was the church of Elmham, not far away from us at Lamford, ever a Royal Peculiar? Our assistant Sacristan, who used to worship at Elmham, doggedly maintains that they both were. On the face of it, everyone knows which churches have been 'Royal Peculiars', that is, subject to the jurisdiction of the Crown rather than the local bishop. The list is limited, and neither Elmham nor Lamford are on it. They were both Crown livings once upon a time, so perhaps this legend is folkloric inflation. But I've come across references to Royal Peculiars which aren't on 'the list', yet did indeed maintain peculiar courts - Gillingham in Dorset, for instance. So I don't know, and remain tormented.

Then again, this same lady told me in all seriousness that Elmham has a black Latin chasuble hand-made for it by Queen Victoria from knicker material. Now I can't imagine how that story got going, given that it outrages everything we know about the good Queen-Empress.

Clergy sometimes do get a bit skittish, and perhaps these legends have a clerical origin. This week it was my turn to assemble the weekly newsletter. I didn't know what anthem the choir would be singing, so sent it to the office with the instruction to check with our Director of Music. In a moment of weakness I'd filled the gap with 'Popeye the Sailor Man' by Charpentier. The Rector had his own moment of weakness, translated the title into French as 'Grosyeux le Matelot', and left it. ONE PERSON in the congregation noticed.

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