Thursday 29 December 2011

Poetry progress

David Overton, a local musician, has set my words from the Orumulum (posted here on 6th January 2010) as an anthem, which the choir at Grimsby Minister sang for the first time at a mid-week Evensong before Christmas. It has a lovely mediaeval feeling lilt to it. David’s father was Organist at St Michael’s for many years and I remember visiting him in his Abbeyfield House room soon after I arrived here. David’s own credits include arranging music for James Galway, and he is himself a member of the Minster’s choir.

Meanwhile, I have got about half way through my project of re-telling the three dozen or so poems of Earl Rognvaldr from the Orkneyinga Saga (begun with the Grimsby poem posted here on 11th September 2011).

For example, Prof Judith Jesch’s literal “Here I’ve raised a high cairn to a strong minded ghost in dark Dollsteinshola; in this way I look for rings - I do not know who among the pushers of wave-skis [a kenning for sailors] will go later the long and ugly way, the route across the broad lake” has become

We pile up stones to mask our fear
and keep the cave’s strong ghouls away
who in the deep of Doll’s dark hole
maintain their grip on rings of gold.

We pile up stones to mark our feat:
perhaps some men will skim the sea
and then on this our awful route
will find our cairn already built.

Her “I hang a snake of the bridge of the hawk [a kenning for arm-ring built on a kenning for arm] made round by the hammer on the gallows of the tongs [another kenning for arm]; we reveal the drink of Grimnir of hanged ones [a kenning for poetry built on a kenning for Odin] - The fir-tree of the gleaming-voice of the Gautar of the cave [a kenning for women built on a kenning for gold built in turn on a kenning for giants] has gladdened me so much that I play with my hollows of the backward-bending feller of the lagoon [a kenning for oar built on a kenning for hand]” has become

Hands which swung felled-trees through water
stroke the gold that snakes in loops
where the hunter’s hawk last rested,
stroke the gold once executed
by such hammer wielding hands.

Drink with me, great God of all fate,
sing of one tree-tall-slender,
sing of her bright treasure-bearing,
delight with me at all her splendour,
sing, and to her beauty drink.

And her “Einarr said that he wished to entertain none of the followers of Rognvald except the jarl himself; the roaring sea of Gauter [a kenning for poetry] comes to my palate – I know that [the one] not amiable to men overturned his promises; I went in where the fires of Yggr [a kenning for swords] burned late in the evening” has become

In my speech the storm surge sings
of Einar set to lure me in
at whose farm the forge fire flames
with burning swords and twisting claims.

Thursday 22 December 2011

History of Bradley

A little while ago, I did a sheet for St George's with a paragraph for every century for the last thousand years.  This week the Chair of the Parish Council asked whether I had anything similar for the village itself.  I didn't realsie how much I'd picked up over the last twelve years, but, with a little help from books on my shelves and the obvious places on the web, I was able to come up with the following initial draft.  I took the picture is the churchyard cross this morning.

Before 1000. We don’t know when the first settlement took place here, but the name (perhaps‘broad wood’ or ‘wide clearing’) dates from before the Vikings came and established or took over a port at ‘Grim’s by’.

1000s. In the Domesday Book, Laceby (apparently the Manor centre), Bradley and Scartho are listed together. Anglo-Saxon Swein, Erik and Tosti held most land, one of the Conqueror’s brother’s had taken some, and nearly a hundred others (‘villans, bordars and sokemen’) had tiny bits. The Manor had some interests in Grimsby, Clee and the Clee thorpes.

1100s. The name Bradley was used as the name of the meeting-place for a wider ‘wapentake’ (roughly a ‘weapon take’ - the administrative sub-division of the shire from which things like military service or tax could be required). It is just possible that the stump of a mediaeval cross in the grounds of the present Manor house is associated with this.

1200s. Ralph of Bradley was paid for materials for building the King’s castle in Grimsby, that he later killed a man in Grimsby, and that his son Geoffrey was at the siege of Lincoln. (References in the Gillett History of Grimsby.)

1300s. It is likley that the Black Death dramatically reduced the population of the parish, and there was evidence of an old village site in the fields south of the present Manor site.

1400s. The Borough of Grimsby owning the Manor of Bradley, on which Lord Wells had claims, and which the Wright family was to ‘wrest from them’. (References in the Gillett History of Grimsby.)

1500s. There is no real evidence for the well loved story that Henry VIII hunted boar in Bradley Woods when he stayed at Thornton Abbey in the 1540s. From the 1580s a James Wright was systematically buying up the Manor and lands (at that time divided into nine parts), some of it known as “Lord Well’s Manor”.

1600s. Hustwaite Wright buys a further two portion of the Manor in 1626. He sells the whole Manor to Richard Nelthorpe in 1633, and both are held criminally responsible for depopulating the village soon afterwards. The Nelthorpes (of Scawby) later acquire things like the woods and the patronage of the church, and the family owned the land for nearly three hundred years. The present Manor House is built in the 1680s (although it contains some features of an earlier house).

1700s. The land was formally ‘enclosed’ (parcelled together into fields suitable for modern agriculture) at the beginning of the eighteenth century, but only eleven families lived in the parish in the 1720s. (References in Ellis & Crowther’s Humber Perspectives.)

1800s. Modern census returns finally bring all the villagers to light. In 1851 there are nineteen houses (two uninhabited). Apart from five farmers (William Phillipson had most land, Samuel Gooseman lived at the Manor, and there was Robert Richardson and both a John Kirk and a Thomas Kirk) and a number of agricultural labourers, the only other ‘heads of household’ are the Rector (ecclesiastical reform had just led to the building of a new Rectory for a resident parson in 1849) and a Grocer.

1900s. In 1914 the Nelthorpes sold their 1 500 acre Bradley estate for £35 500; the Borough Grimsby bought what is now Bradley Playing Fields (at that time it wanted the land for a future cemetery) and Bradley Woods (for public use). First residential developments were at ‘Bradley Hollow’ (along Laceby Road) and this part of the parish (along with the whole of the parishes of Little Coates and Scartho) became part of the Borough of Grimsby in the 1920s. Most of the sixty or so houses in the remaining village have been built since then - even in the 1940s the arrow on the road pointing ‘to the village’ on a plan of the churchyard points south, and the suburban developments along Bradley Road and the first part of Church Lane are post-War.

Monday 19 December 2011

A Very Heavy Christmas

She isn’t actually biting Rudolph’s head off. This is the answer I had already prepared should this publicity shot have fallen into the hands of the less sympathetic parts of the media.

The picture is of our Curate. She is possibly the first one the parish has had who is a Heavy Metal fan. She also did some writing while training for ordination about the unexpectedly large number of similarities between Christian community and Heavy Metal festival communities. This means she was in her element when a different sort of Carol Service was suggested for Grimsby.

A new active leader of the local YMCA has been gathering an ecumenical group to plan engagement activities with young people in the town for a little while. It was from a member of this group that the suggestion of the Carol service emerged. Something like three hundred people were in the Minster at the weekend for A Very Heavy Christmas, with traditional carols rendered loudly by a live band, along with video clips, and George’s sermon, so they are clearly onto something.  There should be some of it up on You Tube soon.

We are seconding George one day a week to provide some chaplaincy at the local College of FE and HE, so I’d hoped the service and the chaplaincy would be to able to feed off each other fruitfully. I’ve also been encouraging her to take time out of the parish to work alongside those further away who are pioneering Heavy Metal ‘alternative worship’ and those who have been providing chaplaincy at some festivals.

Monday 12 December 2011

Drought and salt

The worst news is that there is the prospect of drought in south-western Zimbabwe. An e-mail yesterday from the parish we support there has this stark message. We have not received any significant rains and so we have not planted anything. Usually by this time of the year the maize crop should have grown up to 30 centimeters but this season there is absolute nothing. We hope the rains will come but now it seems like there is going to be a devastating drought.  We continue to pray for the rains.

Meanwhile, these deposits are appearing at an extraordinary rate on what were damp patches on the inside walls of St Michael’s. The encouraging suggestion (I hope it is true) is that, as the walls dry out following our recent work on the roof above them, these are salts which have until now been held in solution in the wall.

Monday 5 December 2011

Millionaires wanted

A ‘Secret Millionaire’ handed over £50 000 or so in Grimsby’s East Marsh area on the television last night; he was rightly impressed with quality of the individuals behind projects to support families with disabled children (which meets and was filmed in the school in which my wife teaches), to raise money for machinery to help those who suffer asthma (in memory of a child who died from an asthma attack), and to equip ‘difficult to reach’ young people in motor repair skills.

The East Marsh ‘scores’ as one of the most deprived Wards in the country, and the church based Shalom Youth project has been mentioned on this Blog before. Nevertheless it (and Grimsby as a whole) looks a great deal better than the backdrops the documentary makers chose for much of the programme on one disused part of the docks and a street boarded up ahead of regeneration redevelopment.

For me the most telling moment was when the leader of the Motor Project reacted with surprise to the cheque he was offered saying ‘This sort of thing doesn’t happen to us - usually funders come to look around, say how impressed they are, and we never hear from them again’.

I’m involved with a media project which has an outstanding record in engaging young people ‘not in employment education or training’ across the whole of North East Lincolnshire which has had a very similar experience, and I was briefing one of the Council’s Cabinet members about exactly this last week, so there is no surprise that the remark stood out for me.

I told her that it seems to me that, for voluntary groups, the level of professional application making, the time available to wait for responses and funding rounds, and the ability to respond to requests for detailed accountability thereafter, means that the smallest probably cannot access any Big Society related funding at all, the small invest a quite disproportionate amount of energy in doing so, only the biggest manage to do so by employing the specialist staff needed to do it well and systematically, and each stumbles from uncertainty about the future to uncertainty about the future.

On Friday the Council had a day ‘beginning a conversation’ about how it works with the voluntary sector in a rapidly changing climate (a climate which will include further major local cuts to come). This seems a good thing - although I’d rather hoped that the Council’s working with the local Voluntary Action organisation and its working through the Local Strategic Partnership might have made it think that a conversation was already under way. Our new Area Dean and the project worker at Grimsby Minster were both due to have been there, and I await with interest feed back from them to the local churches.

Meanwhile, the diocese has helpfully investigated how it might reconnect water just to the outside loo and external tap at St Nicolas’ Vicarage and I’ve just heard from that it has agreed to do so; such little steps bring delight enough even without a sufficient supply of spare secret millionaires.