Monday 25 June 2012

Richard Taylor Esq

How common is it to put ‘Esq’ after someone’s name on their gravestone? I can’t remember coming across it before, but it can’t be unheard of elsewhere. I’ve walked passed this grave often (it is on the path along the south side of St Nicolas’, Great Coates) but it was only last week that I noticed the ‘Esq’, and it was only then that I made the link between the grave and the Richard Taylor commemorated on a memorial tablet in the church (about which I posted a while ago). The fact that they bothered putting this honorific on his gravestone is further evidence that, in the absence of any resident gentry, this farmer was regarded as a leading citizen in the village.

Monday 18 June 2012

We are rich

Martha Payne isn’t complaining about her school meals. She is celebrating her good fortune in having daily access to them.  This is something hardly any of the media reports of  her Blog about her school lunches has picked up.  Several media reports even say that she is counting how many hairs there are in her lunches, whereas her Blog actually records the way in which there never are any.

She echoes in my mind one of the speakers at our recent clergy conference who (talking of something quite different) slipped in a reminder of what we already know: we are rich people; we have ready access to everything from plentiful clean water to any emergency medical treatment we need, so we could not possibly count ourselves as being anything else.

Aware of her own good firtune, she is drawing attention to school children across the world who do not share it.  She had done some limited conventional fund-raising (such as a cake sale) for the charity Mary's Meals, and she thought a Blog about her own school meals would be a way to raise some more.  She set herself a target of £7 000.

The publicity around her local Council’s temporary ban on her taking and posting pictures of her school lunches could not have been more helpful.   By this morning, the amount given to the charity through the page on the on-line donation site  linked to her Blog was more than ten times her target; it has passed £80 000.

The money is to be used to feed children at Lirangwe Primary School in Malawi, which happens to be forty miles or so from where I was born.

Meanwhile, the picture was taken beneath my study window last week.

Monday 11 June 2012


We called here during Half Term; there seems little excuse not to pull off the A1 north of Peterborough given the opportunity to spend even a brief moment at Tickencote or Wansford (both almost on the A1 itself) or at Barnack or Stamford (including St Martin's, Stamford).

We had been recommended Barnack at the recent talk at Barton-on-Humber as providing a parallel example of a Saxon tower with this sort of decoration.

But we also found a pre-Conquest Christ in Majesty.

And one panel of a mediaeval Annunciation with the marvellous feature of the three persons of the Trinity being together behind the conception of the Lord.

And this nineteenth century grave of a nineteen year old Sandhurst cadet cut down in his prime.

Monday 4 June 2012

Conducting ministry

The Bishop of Lincoln’s Charge last week (at the end of the four-yearly residential conference for the clergy of the diocese) included the story of a group of musicians naturally taking its lead from the professional player who happened to be at the harpsichord rather than from the amateur Director of Music waving his arms about ineffectually in front of them.

His story embodied the difference between an imposed style for the leadership of a diverse community and leadership which is natural and recognised, between attempted dominance and the provision of a secure framework within which others can perform.

He was returning us to creative models for ministry in which a soloist’s gift is brought out by interaction with an audience and then a conductor’s gift is to bring and hold together the gifts of all - far cries from the caricature celebrity soloist in isolated glory or the maestro forcing his brilliance and personality on other performers.

I’ll wait to receive the two quotations he used and then post them here as well, because they are much more subtle than the pedestrian interpretations in the two paragraphs above.

While waiting to do that, I was prompted to look back four years to see how close his image is to ones which have been used in the diocese over the years and about which I blogged then at

The model of the conductor is actually only one variation on a theme which included the image of the producer of a pantomime which I used often when responsible for clergy in-service training and

was hawking round for fellow clergy an article from the journal Theology which used this image - each new pantomime grows out of a specific shared tradition which is made new that once - the director has a role equal to the actors in enabling both the rootedness in the tradition and the creativity needed for them to pull this off

and the image of the impresario which the Bishop of Grimsby was including in a range of images he was offering clergy

we can’t go on running the show, but we can take every opportunity to make sure an attractive variety of shows go on.

Meanwhile, we had just had distant relatives from Australia to stay and took them at sunset to the point on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds from which it is possible to see both the Humber Bridge and Lincoln Cathedral; they could see neither because of the haze but they have put this picture of the sunset up on their Facebook page.