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Before I go into Dearmer’s breakdown of the title page of Book of Common Prayer (image courtesy of Wikipedia), I wanted to point out a very important paragraph of his which relates to it.
First, carefully note the wording on the title page of the 1662 BCP.
Dearmer rightly points out (emphases mine below):
A truly admirable description! What a mass of ignorance would be removed if only people knew the Title-page of the Prayer Book! The notion, for instance, that “Priests” are a Roman Catholic institution, and the still common impression on the Continent of Europe that, the Anglican Church at the Reformation gave up the priesthood and is indifferent to Catholic order: the common idea, too, that “Sacramentalism” is a “high-church” idea foisted on to the Protestantism of England: or the notion that our proper use should be the Genevan Use, or the Roman Use, instead of that English Use which the Title-page orders. Certainly many widespread mistakes would never have come into existence had people but read the words that stare us in the face on this Title-page.
That is an excellent point, well made. All Anglicans — especially those who align themselves liturgically with Presbyterianism — should remember it.
The Anglican Church was never intended to be Presbyterian in liturgy or ritual. There is a small but vocal contingent of conservative Anglicans who say it was and would like to make it so even today. Those people point to the Puritans, who adopted a Calvinistic form of Anglicanism.
Bible Hub explains Puritan theology:
It is not too much to say that the ruling theology of the Church of England in the latter half of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century was Calvinistic.  The best proof of this is furnished by the ‘Zurich Letters,’  extending over the whole period of the Reformation, the Elizabethan Articles, the Second Book of Homilies (chiefly composed by Bishop Jewel), the Lambeth Articles, the Irish Articles, and the report of the delegation of King James to the Calvinistic Synod of Dort. 
This theological sympathy between the English and the Continental Churches extended also to the principles of Church government, which was regarded as a matter of secondary importance, and subject to change, like rites and ceremonies, ‘according to the diversities of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word’ (Art. XXXIV.). The difference was simply this: the English Reformers, being themselves bishops, retained episcopacy as an ancient institution of the Church catholic, but fully admitted (with the most learned fathers and schoolmen, sustained by modern commentators and historians) the original identity of the offices of bishop and presbyter; while the German and Swiss Reformers, being only presbyters or laymen, and opposed by their bishops, fell back from necessity rather than choice upon the parity of ministers, without thereby denying the human right and relative importance or expediency of episcopacy as a superintendency over equals in rank. The more rigid among the Puritans departed from both by attaching primary importance to matters of discipline and ritual, and denouncing every form of government and public worship that was not expressly sanctioned in the New Testament.
The Bible Hub essay goes on to explain the differing views of episcopacy — governing the denomination through bishops — that Anglican clergy had at that time. In short, the Puritans opposed episcopacy, which would have given the Anglican Church a Presbyterian polity.
Bible Hub cites an American Episcopalian, the Rev. Dr. E. A. Washburn, of New York, describing him as a modern-day ‘divine’ (esteemed, very learned theologian), therefore, highly knowledgeable in this subject:
‘The doctrinal system of the English Church, in its relation to other Reformed communions, especially needs a historic treatment; and the want of this has led to grave mistakes, alike by Protestant critics and Anglo-Catholic defenders …
‘The Articles ask our first study. It is plain that the foundation-truths of the Reformation — justification by faith, the supremacy and sufficiency of written Scripture, the fallibility of even general councils — are its basis. Yet it is just as plain that in regard of the specific points of theology, which were the root of discord in the Continental Churches, as election, predestination, reprobation, perseverance, and the rest, these Articles speak in a much more moderate tone …
‘We may thus learn the structure of the liturgical system. The English Reformers aimed not to create a new, but to reform the historic Church; and therefore they kept the ritual with the episcopate, because they were institutions rooted in the soil. They did not unchurch the bodies of the Continent, which grew under quite other conditions. No theory of an exclusive Anglicanism, as based on the episcopate and general councils, was held by them. Such a view is wholly contradictory to their own Articles. But the historic character of the Church gave it a positive relation to the past; and they sought to adhere to primitive usage as the basis of historic unity. In this revision, therefore, they weeded out all Romish errors, the mass, the five added sacraments, the legends of saints, and superstitious rites; but they kept the ancient Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene in the forefront of the service, the sacramental offices, the festivals and fasts relating to Christ or Apostles with whatever they thought pure. Such a work could not be perfect, and it is false either to think it so or to judge it save by its time. There are archaic forms in these offices which retain some ideas of a scholastic theology. The view of regeneration in the baptismal service, decried to-day as Romish, can be found by any scholar in Melanchthon or in Bullinger’s Decades. We may see in some of the phrases of the communion office the idea of more than a purely spiritual participation, yet the view is almost identical with that of Calvin. The dogma of the mass had been renounced, but the Aristotelian notions of spirit and body were still embodied in the philosophy of the time. The absolution in the office for the sick, and like features, have been magnified into “Romanizing germs” on one side and Catholic verities on another … The satire, so often repeated … that the Church has a “Popish Liturgy and Calvinistic Articles,” is as ignorant as it is unjust. All liturgical formularies need revision; but such a task must be judged by the standard of the Articles, the whole tenor of the Prayer-book, and the known principles of the men. In the same way we learn their view of the Episcopate. Not one leading divine from Hooper to Hooker claimed any ground beyond the fact of primitive and historic usage … The Puritan of that day was as narrow as the narrow Churchman of our own.
‘… Lutheranism and Calvinism did each its part in the development of a profound theology. The English Church had a more comprehensive doctrine and a more conservative order. It placed the simple Apostles’ Creed above all theological confessions as its basis, and a practical system above the subtleties of controversy …’
The beginning of the Bible Hub essay summarises Anglicanism well:
The Reformed Church of England occupies an independent position between Romanism on the one hand, and Lutheranism and Calvinism on the other, with strong affinities and antagonisms in both directions …
The Reformation in England was less controlled by theology than on the Continent, and more complicated with ecclesiastical and political issues. Anglican theology is as much embodied in the episcopal polity and the liturgical worship as in the doctrinal standards. The Book of Common Prayer is catholic, though purged of superstitious elements; the Articles of Religion are evangelical and moderately Calvinistic. 
In closing, the essay has this gem on the English:
The English mind is not theorizing and speculative, but eminently practical and conservative; it follows more the power of habit than the logic of thought; it takes things as they are, makes haste slowly, mends abuses cautiously, and aims at the attainable rather than the ideal.
Well said. Such characteristics gave us the Church of England and other churches in communion with her around the world.
On Thursday, March 23, 2017, RMC (French talk radio) had a morning discussion on the London attack which occurred the day before.
Les Grandes Gueules (The Big Mouths) discussed the trend for vehicle terrorism, an ISIS-approved method which started with the July 14, 2016 attack in Nice. The Berlin Christmas market attack on December 19 was the next spectacular. On Wednesday, it was London:
The day after the London attack, Belgian police detained a man in Antwerp for driving at speed along a main pedestrian-only street. Reuters reported:
“At about 11 a.m. this morning a vehicle entered De Meir at high speed due to which pedestrians had to jump away,” a police spokesman told a news conference, referring to the street name.
He added the driver was later arrested and additional police and military personnel had been deployed to the center of Antwerp, but did not give any further details.
The Daily Mail reports that the attacker is French-Tunisian. The article has good accompanying photographs.
French media now call such attacks ‘low cost’ terrorism, meaning that no equipment other than a vehicle is required. The radio show panel debated on whether this was appropriate terminology. Opinion was divided. Some found it demeaning to the victims. Others thought it described the situation objectively.
Regardless, the London attack has raised the same reactions and the same questions of previous attacks.
American military veteran, author and film maker Jack Posobiec summed it up on Twitter:
An Englishman, Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars editor-at-large, tweeted:
He also made a short news video in which he put forth the inconvenient truth about the London attacks and others:
People have been speculating incorrectly on the significance of the date the London attack took place. Reuters has the answer (emphases mine below):
The mayhem in London took came on the first anniversary of attacks that killed 32 people in Brussels.
The article also stated that Khalid Masood — formerly Adrian Elms, then Adrian Ajao — whom police shot dead:
was British-born and was once investigated by MI5 intelligence agents over concerns about violent extremism, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued by its Amaq news agency. But it gave no name or other details and it was not clear whether the attacker was directly connected to the group.
Police arrested eight people at six locations in London and Birmingham in the investigation into Wednesday’s lone-wolf attack that May said was inspired by a warped Islamist ideology.
About 40 people were injured and 29 remain in hospital, seven in critical condition, after the incident which resembled Islamic State-inspired attacks in France and Germany where vehicles were driven into crowds.
The assailant sped across Westminster Bridge in a car, ploughing into pedestrians along the way, then ran through the gates of the nearby parliament building and fatally stabbed an unarmed policeman before being shot dead. tmsnrt.rs/2napbkD
“What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that some years ago he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism,” May said in a statement to parliament.
So far, four people have died:
It was the worst such attack in Britain since [July 7] 2005, when 52 people were killed by Islamist suicide bombers on London’s public transport system. Police had given the death toll as five but revised it down to four on Thursday.
that Europeans would not be able to walk safely on the streets if they kept up their current attitude toward Turkey, his latest salvo in a row over campaigning by Turkish politicians in Europe.
While that is strange, it probably remains a coincidence. Erdogan is angry with the Netherlands and Germany at the moment.
Once again, we have the lone-wolf narrative. Patently wrong, as it has been in other terror attacks. Notice Reuters says police arrested eight people. Therefore, how could it have been a lone-wolf operation?
On the notion of normalising terror in big cities, Tucker Carlson had this to say:
Although it sounds clichéd, it is true that prayer — public and private — help greatly at a time like this.
We can pray for the families and friends of victims PC Keith Palmer, fatally stabbed by the attacker, as well as the two civilians who died: Aysha Frade (wife and mother of two daughters), Kurt Cochran (an American tourist, husband and father) and the latest victim, a 75-year-old man. We can pray for Mrs Cochran, who was injured in the attack and is in hospital. We can pray for the 40 injured. Their lives will never be the same again. They will need God’s help for physical and mental recovery.
In closing, The Sun has an excellent set of photographs which tell the horrific story of the March 22, 2017 attack.
On Monday, March 20, 2017, Britain’s singing legend Dame Vera Lynn, celebrated her 100th birthday.
Dame Vera is as iconic as the Queen.
Incredibly, on March 17, Decca Records released her latest album, Vera Lynn 100: We’ll Meet Again. She is thought to be the first centenarian to have a new album on sale.
The London Evening Standard reports (emphases mine below):
The record comes eight years after Dame Vera became the oldest living artist to land a UK number one album and also marks the wartime singer’s 93 years in the industry as she made her stage debut at the age of seven.
New re-orchestrated versions of her most beloved music alongside her original vocals will feature on the music release …
The album also features a previously unreleased version of Sailing – a surprise find as it was not widely known she had recorded the track.
A photo of her with a Happy Birthday message was projected onto the white cliffs of Dover, also the name of one of her greatest wartime hits. Others, too numerous to mention, included We’ll Meet Again and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square:
Dame Vera still lives at home in Ditchling, East Sussex.
Yesterday, the BBC reported that she participated in a Skype call from home with students from her old school, Brampton Primary School in East Ham, east London. The students serenaded her with a selection of her most famous songs.
The Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity held a daytime party on top of the white cliffs of Dover. It was very windy that day, but:
veterans, re-enactors and the Singing Sweethearts serenaded Dame Vera and sang happy birthday.
A military-style salute and flag-waving carried on regardless, all in support of her children’s charity but also celebrating the 100th birthday of our own Forces’ Sweetheart.
The Evening Standard reported:
Dame Vera said: “It is an unprecedented honour to have my birthday marked in such a beautiful way and I am truly thrilled by this wonderful gesture.
“As we look to the white cliffs on Monday, I will be thinking of all our brave boys – the cliffs were the last thing they saw before heading off to war and, for those fortunate enough to return, the first thing they saw upon returning home.
“I feel so blessed to have reached this milestone and I can’t think of a more meaningful way to mark the occasion.”
BBC Radio 2 asked her for her advice on ageing:
… she said: “Be active to your full capabilities.
“Keep interested, read books, watch television and try to keep in touch with life and what people are doing, seeing and enjoying.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 2, she added: “While you can do that, I hope you will continue.”
Finally! Someone who defends television! Thank you, Dame Vera!
Dame Vera gave an exclusive newspaper interview to The Sun:
“I try not to worry too much about anything any more, and enjoy every day as it comes,” she says.
“There is always something we can be concerned about. The secret is to rise above it and do whatever we can to make the world a better place.”
As for the young Second World War troops who loved her and her music:
she is still full of praise for the true Brits who gave up everything to bring peace to future generations.
She adds: “The war was a dark and difficult time but it was quite easy to keep faith when I saw for myself the sacrifices being made by the boys on the front line and everyone on the Home Front.
“The community spirit and collective sense of patriotism saw us all through.”
“The white cliffs were the last thing they saw before they left for war and, for those fortunate enough to return, the first thing they saw to tell them they were home.”
The Sun reminds us of why Dame Vera was The Forces’ Sweetheart:
To borrow from the familiar lyrics, millions of men and women didn’t have the chance to meet their loved ones again some sunny day.
But at least Vera gave them hope and comfort in the darkness and it explains why she ranks her people’s title of Forces Sweetheart as highly as any official accolade.
“I consider it to be one of my greatest achievements,” she affirms. “I feel very honoured that people regard me in this way.
“I am exceptionally fond of all the brave servicemen and women who have worked, and continue to work, to keep us safe and secure, and protect our values.”
The BBC has a great retrospective, complete with family photos, of Dame Vera’s life and career. Highlights follow:
Vera Welch was born on 20 March 1917 in East Ham in London. Neither of her parents were involved in showbusiness – her father Bertram was a plumber and mother Annie a dressmaker. But by the age of seven, the talented young Vera was singing in working men’s clubs – an audience she described as “great” – and soon became the family’s main breadwinner.
This is my favourite:
When she turned 11, Vera took her grandmother’s maiden name of Lynn as a stage name. She had no formal singing lessons as a child – and just one as an adult. She said: “I thought I could extend my range but when the teacher heard me sing she said ‘I cannot train that voice, it’s not a natural voice’. So I said: ‘Well thank you very much madam’, and left.”
I do wonder what that teacher thought later! You know what they say: ‘Those who can’t do …’
Dame Vera started singing professionally at the age of 15 and released her first single at the age of 19:
By the age of 22 she had sold more than a million records, bought her parents a house and herself a car.
During the Second World War, she went on tour:
it was during World War Two that her reputation was made. She frequently sang to the troops at morale-boosting concerts, becoming known to posterity as The Forces’ Sweetheart.
She married Harry Lewis in 1941. They had a daughter, Virginia. Harry died in 1998. Mother and daughter are still very close.
Dame Vera appeared on radio shows. Below, she is the lady in the fur coat:
Dame Vera’s career and fame continued after the war ended:
She was appointed OBE in 1969, made a Dame in 1975, and a Companion of Honour in 2016. Her wartime fame meant she was never far from the television screens …
She enjoyed meeting new talent:
She made the acquaintance of glam rock band Slade in 1973, when they gathered round a piano at the Melody Maker Awards.
Her records continue to sell very well and she:
holds the record for being the oldest living artist to achieve a top 20 UK album.
Over the years, Dame Vera has participated in many Second World War commemorative events.
In closing, this is what the Queen wrote Dame Vera on her 100th birthday:
You cheered and uplifted us all in the War and after the War, and I am sure that this evening the blue birds of Dover will be flying over to wish you a happy anniversary, Elizabeth R.
Many happy returns, Dame Vera Lynn!
I mentioned Dearmer was an avowed Socialist. He seems to have been a bit to the left theologically, too.
In Chapter 3 of his book, he introduces the title page. This alone is worth about three posts, so I shall focus on Dearmer’s dislike of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, painstakingly written and agreed upon in 1563 by a convocation of Anglican bishops.
(Image credit: Wikipedia)
Archbishop Cranmer (1489 – 1556) wrote most of the Articles, the number of which varied depending on the monarch. Under Henry VIII, there were ten, then six. Under his successors, they increased to 42, then decreased to 39 in 1563, under Elizabeth I. She subsequently removed Article XXIX, which denounced transubstantiation. She did not want to offend her Catholic subjects.
In 1571, Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth I. Article XXIX was reinstated.
The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are the official positions of the Church of England. Dearmer might have objected to them because they state particular things that could offend Catholics (the nature of Holy Communion) and Anabaptists (no mandate for commonly-held property).
You can read the full list here, along with the introduction. Today’s Anglican clergy downplay them a lot and actually discourage people from even reading them. Yet, they are still obliged to affirm at ordination that they accept the Articles.
However, as the Church Society notes:
the wording of the declaration is now such that many feel able to say it without meaning what a simple reading might suggest.
The Thirty-nine Articles have their basis in Holy Scripture. I have no problem in affirming them, although I will never be asked to do so. Wikipedia states:
the Articles are not officially normative in all Anglican Churches …
Now on to Dearmer, who points out that the Thirty-nine Articles are not on the title page of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, although they are included in it:
It makes no mention of the Thirty-nine Articles; for they form no part of the Prayer Book. They are bound up with it …
Their inclusion bothered him, because they are not binding on Anglican churchgoers:
it is a mistake of the printing authorities to compel us to buy the Articles whenever we buy the Prayer Book; and it gives Church folk the impression that the Articles are binding on them, which is not the case — for a layman is perfectly free to disagree with the Articles, if he chooses.
However, I found them helpful when I was converting. I wanted to know what this denomination believed and why before I made a commitment. It took me some time and reading to understand what a few of the Articles meant and why they were included.
Dearmer was of the impression that they were a living document and should have been updated to reflect the times:
Nothing has been done to improve them. The needs of modern thought have indeed been partly met by altering the terms in which the clergy (and they alone) have to give their assent; but this does not help the average Briton, who, moreover, is without the assistance of the learned commentaries which alone can prevent serious misunderstandings ; while in other countries, both East and West, the presence of the Thirty-nine Articles in the Prayer Book continues to do grave harm, by giving to other Churches a false idea of the Anglican theology.
Whilst I agree that the average Briton does need learned commentaries, I just did my own research. Anyone interested in doing so can. Clergy in Dearmer’s day could also have held classes on the Thirty-nine Articles so that the congregation could better understand them.
Where I disagree with Dearmer is that the Articles could be somehow improved. He could not have been more wrong! An Anglican who follows the Thirty-nine Articles will end up much further along the road to sanctification in thought, word and deed.
I much prefer what the Church Society says about them in fewer words (emphases in the original):
Officially the Church of England accepts the full and final authority of Holy Scripture as the basis for all that it believes. Some of these beliefs were summarised in the historic creeds, and at the time of the Reformation the Church adopted the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion as giving a concise and systematic statement of the teaching of Scripture.
It’s a pity that more Anglicans do not understand the Articles or believe, as clergy are wont to say, that they are ‘historical artifacts’.
For decades, Anglicans have believed anything they want. Some of them are more Quaker, Baptist or Methodist than Anglican.
Dearmer did have excellent insights on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer, more about which next week.
On Monday, February 6, 2017, Queen Elizabeth II achieved what no other British monarch has: a Sapphire Jubilee.
The Queen acceded the throne 65 years ago, following the death of her father, King George VI.
Her Majesty celebrated the day privately at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. She attended Sunday service at St Peter and St Paul in West Newton, Norfolk, where she greeted well wishers and accepted bouquets of flowers afterwards.
Military salutes were given in London on Monday. The Telegraph has photos and reported:
Royal gun salutes were staged in London on Accession Day, as is the tradition, with a 41-gun salute by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at noon.
The Band of the Royal Artillery played a selection of celebratory music close to the firing position as 89 horses pulled six First World War-era 13-pounder field guns into position in the park.
A 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company was fired at the Tower of London at 1pm.
The photo above was taken in 2014. Buckingham Palace re-released it for the Sapphire Jubilee.
Sky News explains:
The picture was taken by the photographer David Bailey in 2014 for the GREAT campaign, a publicity campaign to promote Britain around the world.
In the photograph The Queen is wearing a suite of sapphire jewellery given to her by King George VI as a wedding present in 1947.
It was on the 6 February, 1952 that her father died while at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, who was 25, was in Kenya on a royal tour with her husband Prince Philip at the time.
Although no national celebrations are planned this year, the Royal Mint is issuing a set of commemorative coins. Royal Mail has released a £5 commemorative stamp in sapphire blue.
Two years ago, when the Queen became Britain’s longest-ever reigning monarch, she said that achieving that landmark was:
“not one to which I have ever aspired”.
She added: “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception.”
Those of us who treasure her give thanks and wish her well for many more years as our monarch.
As Her Majesty is approaching her 91st birthday this year, the Duke of Cambridge — Prince William — is taking on more official royal appearances on her behalf.
With regard to length of reign, Queen Victoria comes second in the list with 63 years. Then we go further back in history to George III, who ruled for 59 years, 96 days (1760-1820). James VI of Scotland served for 57 years, 246 days (1567-1625).
In fifth place — incredibly, given it that this was during the Middle Ages — is Henry III of England and Lord of Ireland, who reigned for 56 years and 29 days between 1216 and 1272.
Yesterday’s post about Plough Monday looked at a post-Epiphany tradition revived in the Fens of Cambridgeshire.
Today’s post takes us to Cambridge, where a beloved institution celebrated its 140th anniversary in 2016: Heffers bookshop.
(Photo credit: Heritage Explorer, showing the children’s bookshop in the late 1960s.)
As most Cambridge University colleges are closed to the public, especially during term time, a visit to Heffers is often the closest people get to sharing a slice of the student academic experience. For book lovers and curious tourists, no visit to Cambridge is complete without a trip to Heffers.
The Michaelmas 2016 issue of CAM (Cambridge Alumni Magazine) had a fascinating feature on Heffers. The article, by William Ham Bevan, begins on page 20 of the PDF and continues through page 25. (Michaelmas is the feast of St Michael and All Angels, September 29. Cambridge maintains traditional term names that follow the Church year: Michaelmas, Lent and Easter.)
‘The bookshop known all over the world’
The bookshop is so much a part of town and university life, that author Julie E Bounford, also a tutor at the University of East Anglia, wrote a book about it called This Book Is About Heffers: The Bookshop That Is Known All Over The World. With the help of researcher Rob Webb:
The project is based in part on a fascinating personal collection of photographs, press cuttings and other ‘memorabilia’ of the firm’s activities gathered by the late Winifred Anstee (Julie’s great aunt). This covers staff outings, Heffers family occasions and other key events, dating back to 1913 …
Both Julie’s and Rob’s families have had a long association with Heffers. Julie’s great-grandfather, Frederick Anstee, worked for the company for forty-seven years (starting at the age of thirteen). On his death in 1944, E. W. Heffer wrote an obituary in The Bookseller trade journal. Her great aunt, Winifred Anstee, her grandmother, Lillian Saunders (nee Anstee) and her mother’s cousin, Bryan Anstee, also worked for the firm (as a secretary, shop assistant and printer, respectively).
Rob’s grandfather and father worked for the company during the 1910s and 1940s-70s, respectively. Rob also worked at Heffers during the 1970s.
Bounford, who grew up in Cambridge, has fond memories of the firm’s children’s bookshop, where she bought a paperback every week with her pocket money. Her website has an article about this time in her life, ‘Choosing books, living life’. This would have been around the time the photo at the top of this post was taken. Julie says (emphases mine):
Note the absence of the paraphernalia that you tend to get in children’s bookshops today. Like children’s diaries, the bookshops were less cluttered in those days. The focus was the books. Choosing was always a delight but never took long (it took more time to queue for our wares at Sainsbury’s meat and cheese counters afterwards) and I would be even more delighted if the need arose to use the oak library steps to reach a particular volume.
She included the announcement on the death of her great-grandfather, a loyal lifelong employee:
On his death in 1944, E. W. Heffer wrote in the trade journal,
‘We are grieved to announce the death suddenly, on Sunday June 18th, 1944, of Mr Frederick Anstee, of 27 Humberstone Road, Cambridge, aged 60 years. Mr Anstee entered our employment as a boy, forty-seven years ago, and by most faithful, conscientious and capable service he rose to be head of our science department. He was known, appreciated and respected by a great number of eminent scientists throughout the world.’ The Bookseller, 22nd June, 1944
Today’s readers will be surprised to learn that his father William Heffer, born in 1844, was the son of an agricultural labourer. He married a housemaid, Mary Crick, who later became a cook for a local doctor. At the time of their wedding, Heffer was 18. Mary was 14.
By 1871 the couple had six (of an eventual total of nine) children to support and Heffer was employed as a humble groom. There is some suggestion that he subsequently managed a public house, but it was apparently with the aid of a modest loan that he was enabled to set up in business as a stationer.
That would be unthinkable today.
Bounford told the CAM reporter that Heffer set up shop in 1876 (p. 24 of the PDF). Heffer started as a stationer, selling paper products and filing boxes to students and faculty. He sold his wares by walking to the colleges with bundles of merchandise. He was so well known that, when he died, the Vice-Chancellor [head] of Cambridge University attended his funeral.
When he started, Heffer’s workshop was at 104 Fitzroy Street. In 1899, he became a printer and publisher, with agreement from London publishers, to keep the cost of books affordable. He first printed Bibles and hymnals. They were such big sellers that he opened a bookshop in 1896 at 3-4 Petty Cury. He was also good at marketing the shop, using branded bookmarks and print advertising. The bookshop sold textbooks and became a regular destination for students.
Bookhunter tells us:
As the younger children grew up in the bookshop, surrounded by books, they naturally enough joined in. By 1901 five of them were employed in the rapidly growing concern – Kate Adelaide Heffer (1867-1940), Ernest William Heffer (1871-1948), Lucy Mary Heffer (1873-1951), Frank Heffer (1876-1933) and Sidney Heffer (1878-1959).
It was as the oldest son engaged in the bookshop that Ernest William Heffer, the sixth child, became first a partner and eventually head of the firm. On 7th September 1897 he married Louisa Marion Beak (1869-1939) at All Saints, Peckham. His new wife was the daughter of the late and rather splendidly named Worthey Beak, a Berkshire farmer. She had previously been working as a nurse at the Woolwich & Plumstead Cottage Hospital. Living first at 7 Mill Road and later at 24 Chesterton Road, Ernest William and his wife had three children of their own – Arthur Beak Heffer (1899-1931), Eleanor Mary Heffer (1903-1991) and Reuben George Heffer (1908-1995).
Reuben, a trained printer, took over the firm in 1948 and served as chairman between 1951 and 1975. Reuben’s son Nicholas became chairman in 1984.
Bookhunter says that by the end of the 1920s, Ernest William Heffer — the founder’s son — was selling notable second-hand books. He purchased important collections from private individuals. In 1933, he served as president of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. His wife died in 1939. He died a week before Christmas in 1948, aged 77. Although he left a comfortable fortune:
He was buried at the Ascension Parish Burial Ground in Cambridge (Plot: 1B1), his grave adorned by a simple wooden cross (Find A Grave Memorial# 34761969).
Heffers expanded during the 20th century. Their large stationery store was in Sidney Street, the Penguin paperback shop in Trumpington Street with the children’s bookshop in Trinity Street. I remember these various Heffers shops. Unfortunately, only the Trinity Street branch exists today. It houses everything for reasons which I will explain below.
Services to students
CAM detailed the story of how Heffers became such a local institution: marketing, branding and customer service.
In 1900, Heffers began issuing academic book catalogues to first year students at Cambridge University. Later, the firm printed branded diaries which it issued to undergraduates (p. 24).
At the beginning of term, Heffers cleared out the front of the main shop to stock it with textbooks. Staff were entirely at the beck and call of students; no publishers reps were allowed to call during that time (p. 24).
Students then and now became well acquainted with Heffers booksellers, particularly once they moved into specialist studies. Employees knew exactly what the student required and where it was located (p. 25).
Until credit cards became well established, Heffers offered credit themselves. A student had only to apply for an account. Payment was collected without fail. Anyone who owed the bookshop more than £20 found that Heffers sent his tutor a copy of the bill!
Heffers also printed calling cards for undergraduates (p. 25). By the 1930s, everyone had a set. Calling — visiting — cards with one’s name on them enabled someone to indicate they had stopped by to chat in the event no one was there. They were left at the door. By the 1950s, this old social custom was dying out and their production ceased.
Early in the 21st century, Heffers created a small café, which enabled students to relax with a book. With the consolidation of shops a few years later, however, the café disappeared, and children’s books replaced it.
Today, only the shop in Trinity Street exists. It houses everything from stationery to textbooks to paperbacks and children’s books.
In 1999, the Blackwell Group — booksellers based in Oxford but with branches around the country — bought Heffers, which still trades under the original name.
It is interesting to note that Benjamin Henry Blackwell (1849-1924) founded his company in Oxford in 1879, around the same time that Heffer established his. He and his parents were very religious and teetotal. They objected to the government collecting excise tax on alcohol. Like Heffer, Blackwell also served as president of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association.
It seems that Blackwell, still a family-run firm, looked beyond Oxford to make various acquisitions in the 1990s. It is difficult to know whether Heffers could have done likewise. Perhaps the appetite for expansion just wasn’t there.
In any event, Heffers is definitely worth a visit. Everything is well organised. Not a book is out of place. Service is exceptional. Staff are on hand to find that elusive volume for you and do it with ineffable courtesy.
Heffers is a true English experience not to be missed.
In parts of England, mainly to the east and the north, the first Monday after Twelfth Night is known as Plough Monday.
This is an ancient day which probably came to England from the Nordic countries’ invasions. Later, it was associated with the Church and by the 18th century purely with secular folk traditions. It is so called because it was when field workers returned to their labour after the Christmas holiday to till the soil. Back then, they celebrated twelve days of Christmas. Because of the cold weather, it was impractical to till the soil to ready it for sowing.
Origins and traditions
It is thought that the tradition of dancing for Plough Monday originated with the Northern Goths and Swedes when they were still pagans.
The man to document this was the last Catholic Archbishop of Sweden, Olaus Magnus (1490-1557), who fled to Italy and became a historian once the King of Sweden, Gustav Wasa, adopted Lutheranism as the country’s Christian denomination.
In Italy, Magnus became a cartographer and historical researcher. Among his works was History of the Northern Nations, printed in Rome in 1555. Pope Julius II granted a ten-year copyright which saw the 22-volume work translated into Italian, English, Dutch, French and German. (Ironically, it was not translated into Swedish until the 20th century.)
Elaborate dances to music
Hymns and Carols of Christmas gives a summary of what Magnus wrote about the Sword Dance and accompanying music which must have become a custom after the Nordic peoples invaded England in the Dark Ages. Later it would become part of Plough Monday festivities, as the Revd John Brand (1744-1806), an antiquarian and Anglican clergyman, documented (emphases mine):
He [Magnus] says that the Northern Goths and Swedes have a sport wherein they exercise their youth, consisting of a Dance with Swords in the following manner. First, with swords sheathed and erect in their hands, they dance in a triple round : then with their drawn swords held erect as before: afterwards, extending them from band to hand, they lay hold of each other’s hilts and points, and, while they are wheeling more moderately round and changing their order, throw themselves into the figure of a hexagon, which they call a rose: but, presently raising and drawing back their swords, they undo that figure, in order to form with them a four-square rose, that they may rebound over the head of each other. Lastly, they dance rapidly backwards, and, vehemently rattling the sides of their swords together, conclude their sport. Pipes, or songs (sometimes both), direct the measure, which, at first, is slow, but, increasing afterwards, becomes a very quick one towards the conclusion. (Citing Brand) Olaus Magnus adds of this dance that “It is scarcely to be understood, but by those that look on, how gamely and decent it is, when at one word, or one commanding, the whole armed multitude is directed to fall to fight: and clergymen may exercise themselves, and mingle themselves amongst others at this sport, because it is all guided by most wise reason.” (“See also Strutt’s Sports 8vo. p. 214.”)
Olaus Magnus calls this a kind of Gymnastic rite, in which the ignorant were successively instructed by those who were skilled in it: and thus it must have been preserved and handed down to us- “I have been” says Mr. Brand “a frequent spectator of this dance, which is now, or was very lately, performed with few or no alterations in Northumberland and the adjoining counties: one difference however is observable in our Northern sword dancers, that, when the Swords are formed into a figure, they lay them down upon the ground and dance round them.”
Disguises and begging for money
By the Middle Ages, Plough Monday was the time when boys with ploughs were to return to working in the fields. However, because the socioeconomic system of that era was so oppressive, the ploughboys disguised themselves and went to the houses of wealthy landowners instead to extort money. The ploughboys received no pay when they were not working, and the gulf between rich and poor was so great that it was one way they could redress the balance.
These itinerant workers — also known as Plough Jacks, Plough Bullocks or Plough Stots — blackened their faces so that the landowners would not recognise them. This tradition continued for centuries afterwards. PloughMonday.co.uk says:
In the Cambridgeshire Fens children would collect money, often before school, this was known as Ploughwitching.
By the 1400s, Plough Monday was dedicated to raising funds for local parishes — boundaries of which were determined by church location. The church collected money to help the parish, comprised of a village or two and surrounding land. Groups of skilled ploughmen formed plough guilds which had a plough light in the local church, possibly as a way of asking for God’s blessings on the fields, in the same way we light a candle or votive light for a special intention today. A portion of the funds collected on Plough Monday helped to keep these lit throughout the year. Some priests also blessed ploughs on this day.
By 1538, when the Reformation took hold in England, plough lights were forbidden and plough guilds were disbanded. Anyone who conducted a drive for money on Plough Monday was fined.
Depending on the political and monarchical climate, Plough Monday waxed or waned until the early to mid-1600s.
17th century and after
Once Plough Monday revived in full, its ecclesiastical character disappeared.
By then, landowners ensured all their workers were well fed and watered throughout the twelve days of Christmas.
More farmworkers participated and used the day for personal gain by collecting money, joining in revelry and ending with a feast. Wikipedia describes a typical festival:
The customs observed on Plough Monday varied by region, but a common feature to a lesser or greater extent was for a plough to be hauled from house to house in a procession, collecting money. They were often accompanied by musicians, an old woman or a boy dressed as an old woman, called the “Bessy”, and a man in the role of the “fool“. ‘Plough Pudding’ is a boiled suet pudding, containing meat and onions. It is from Norfolk and is eaten on Plough Monday.
The procession with the plough went like this, according to an old account:
Long ropes are attached to it, and thirty or forty men, stripped to their clean white shirts, but protected from the weather by waistecoats beneath, drag it along. Their arms and shoulders are decorated with gay-coloured ribbons, tied in large knots and bows, and their hats are smartened in the same way. They are usually accompanied by an old woman, or a boy dressed up to represent one; she is gaily bedizened, and called the Bessy. Sometimes the sport is assisted by a humorous countryman to represent a fool. He is covered with ribbons, and attired in skins, with a depending tail, and carries a box to collect money from the spectators. They are attended by music, and Morris-dancers when they can be got; but there is always a sportive dance with a few lasses in all their finery, and a superabundance of ribbons. When this merriment is well managed, it is very pleasing.
Although the day was one of revelry, farmworkers as well as farmhouse cooks and servants got up as early as they could to show willingness to work during the season ahead. According to the aforementioned account, a kitchen maid was given a cockerel for Shrovetide before Lent. However, Plough Monday determined whether she received it:
Then Plough Monday reminded them of their business, and on the morning of that day, the men and maids strove who should show their readiness to commence the labours of the years, by rising the earliest. If the plough-man could get his whip, his plough-staff, hatched, or any field implement, by the fireside, before the maid could get her kettle on, she lost her Shrove-tide cock to the men. Thus did our forefathers strive to allure youth to their duty, and provided them innocent mirth as well as labour. On Plough Monday night the farmer gave them a good supper and strong ale. In some places, where the ploughman went to work on Plough Monday, if, on his return at night, he came with his whip to the kitchen-hatch, and cried “Cock on the dunghill,” he gained a cock for Shrove Tuesday.
The Revd Francis Blomefield was, like the aforementioned John Brand, an Anglican clergyman and antiquarian. He lived between 1705 and 1752. He documented the histories of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.
In his History of Norfolk, he described the Plough Monday processions in that county. Although they were secular in nature then, men still collected for the ancient plough light, requesting ‘money for light’. However, instead of collecting for the church — as had been done in the 15th century — they were collecting money to be spent at the local alehouse.
Blomefield also wrote of the mummer play — folk play with local amateur actors — typically performed on that day, ‘The arraigning and indicting of Sir John Barleycorn’. It was a humorous sketch featuring characters from all walks of life: some admired, some despised. In the end, Sir John Barleycorn was always acquitted, but as Blomefield concluded:
From this facetious little narrative may be learned the folly of excess, and the injustice of charging a cheering beverage, with the evil consequences of a man taking a cup more of it than will do him good.
Plough Monday festivities died out in many places from the 19th through to the 20th centuries. However, some towns are reviving these old traditions.
Project Britain has a fascinating summary with recent pictures of Plough Monday where it has been revived.
An account from 1808, describing the custom in the North Riding of Yorkshire, says that any new tenant farmer received the labour of his neighbours as well as their ploughs on this day in order to prepare his land for sowing.
The account, written by Miss Hutton in her ‘Oakward Hall’, describes the great feast of homemade bread, dumplings, beef and Cheshire cheese at the end of the day.
In an area of the Huntingdonshire Fens (fens are lowlands):
a straw bear was led through the streets on Plough Monday. It is speculated that this may have grown out of a pagan ritual or just maybe an extension of disguising oneself using straw, inspired by dancing bears that used to tour the fenland villages.
Plough Monday traditions died out here in the 1950s but were revived in 2009:
Five hundred children from Ramsey Junior School and 14 other primary schools had been learning about Molly Dancing and other Plough Monday customs as part of the Heritage Lottery funded project “Cambridgeshire Roots”. The children from eight local schools came together to parade through the town of Ramsey and to dance on the Abbey Green. This was recorded by BBC Countryfile.
This custom has gone from strength to strength and the children now sing their own song as they process through the streets as taught to them by two ladies who went “ploughwitching” in the area 1950’s. It was thought that Plough Monday customs had largely died out in the Cambridgeshire Fens in the 1930’s until Gordon Phillips and Nicky Stockman met Anne Edwards and her husband during a performance by the children of Benwick Primary School. Anne told us about the antics of her peers who grew up in Ramsey Heights and visited local houses, dressed up with blackened faces to sing and beg for money. More local people who remembered the custom came forward during the intergenerational project “Ploughwitches and Bears”.
These videos from 2016 give you a good idea of Plough Monday past and present with Molly (Morris) Dancers, a play, sooty faces and a straw bear:
Another Fenland town, Whittlesey, holds a Straw Bear Festival:
a direct descendant of the Plough Monday customs, and there are revivals with a variety of names, often performed by local morris dancers. Look out for Plough Jags, Stots, Witchers and Bullockers … and Old Glory (see Cutty Wren) also perform on Plough Monday.
In other areas, sometimes the Straw Bear was paraded through the streets in lieu of a decorated plough in the 19th century.
Isles of Scilly
locals would cross-dress and then visit their neighbours to joke about local occurrences. There would be guise dancing (folk-etymologically rendered as “goose dancing” by either the authors or those whom they observed) and considerable drinking and revelry.
I look forward to comments from anyone who has seen or participated in a Plough Monday event.
Sorry to be late to the party with this item, but it was in our two-week Christmas issue of the Radio Times, Britain’s foremost television (and radio) guide.
In the 17-30 December 2016 issue, the back page interview was with Prime Minister Theresa May, also the MP for Maidenhead. She answered a variety of questions from reporter Michael Hodges. Excerpts and a summary follow.
On Christmas Day, she and her husband Philip go to church. Afterwards, they meet up with friends for a drink, then it’s off to an ecumenical lunch for the elderly, where May takes time to talk with her constituents.
The Mays return home where the Prime Minister roasts a goose for Christmas dinner. They haven’t had turkey for several years. Although others consider goose to be extremely fatty, May points out:
if you keep the fat, it makes wonderful roast potatoes for quite a long time thereafter.
Absolutely. We also have goose at Christmas, partly for that reason, and for the unctuous stock from the wings.
May, a practising Anglican, lent the Radio Times a photo of herself as a girl with her late father, the Revd Hubert Brasier. She told Michael Hodges what Christmas past was like:
Throughout my life I have been going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and church on Christmas Day morning. As a child I had to wait until my father had finished his services before I could open my presents.
It felt like a very long wait. Others I knew would be able to open their presents first thing in the morning.
I’m an only child and my mother played the organ. So I would sit alongside her while my father was taking the service.
The interview did not mention that May’s parents died within a year of each other. Her father died just as she completed her studies at Oxford and her mother several months later. It can’t have been easy for her, especially with no siblings for support:
When you first lose your parents, Christmas is hugely, hugely important. Now I enjoy Christmas with my husband Philip and we keep up the tradition of going to church. But, of course, it does remind me of my parents.
During her childhood, she watched only the BBC, until:
one day, my mother managed to jiggle the aerial and we got ITV and I saw Robin Hood. That music and Richard Greene as Robin Hood really grabbed me.
This is the iconic theme to which May refers:
May’s other television favourites included early series of The Avengers with Diana Rigg, then Joanna Lumley, although:
I have never had a female role model — I’ve always just got on with doing what I am doing.
As an adult, she watched the ‘very evocative’ Das Boot. These days, she enjoys Scandinavian dramas Borgen and The Bridge. Christmas Day favourites include Doctor Who and David Suchet as Poirot.
She doesn’t take recommendations for television viewing:
My advisers don’t tell me what to watch on the television — I watch what I want to watch.
May ended the interview by saying she had no idea a year ago that she would be Prime Minister today.
What follows is her four-minute New Year’s message. If her father was as eloquent a speaker as his daughter is, he must have been a splendid vicar. May speaks of the change that Brexit will bring this year but also of the unity of the four nations of the United Kingdom and the shared values and experiences that make us one people:
This is very similar to the first speech she gave as Prime Minister outside No. 10.
She and Donald Trump will get on well. Of that, I have no doubt.
A while back I criticised the increase in Big Media closing their sites to readers’ comments.
On September 14, Damian Thompson — who worked at The Telegraph for many years and has been at The Spectator for the last few — posted an article ‘Comment threads are closing, thankfully – but the underpants brigade have won’.
It’s one of the laziest pieces of journalism I have read this year. He gives no indication as to why he is saying that comments are closing. No what, where or when, either: standard journalistic questions every article should answer.
I learned about that in primary school English class.
Yes, every year our books included a series of journalism lessons with in-class assignments where we had to write a short news, features or sports story. We had to compose them the way they would appear in a newspaper. The teacher would come around to grade them and the best were read out in class.
Not only did we learn something useful; we also began reading newspapers more frequently.
But I digress.
Several years ago, Thompson, a practising Catholic, got into a Telegraph comments row with a group of Catholic traditionalists. One weekend in May, he deleted all their comments from one of his blog posts. I remember it well, because I saw it happen in real time. They soon turned to WordPress, where they have been maintaining their sites since 2009. Sorry, I cannot remember their names, but maybe one of them will come on here to comment!
Bearing that in mind, it’s interesting that Thompson writes this (emphases mine):
For five years I was editor of Telegraph Blogs. Every day, from the moment we switched on our computers, we had to live with the drone of the ‘underpants brigade’, as one colleague called them.
To the casual reader, these Y-front warriors were obvious fruitcakes. But they had a sharp eye for the fragility of the journalistic ego.
Yes, they certainly did, Damian. And you lacked the professionalism to buck up and allow them to voice their opinions.
After he deleted the Catholic traditionalists’ posts, I never read another article by Thompson again until this particular one.
But enough about Damian Thompson and his paltry journalism. What did the readers say in response?
First, he received over 1,480 comments. Well played, readers!
Secondly, one reader offered an eloquent defence of comments:
Since the Telegraph turned off comments, I’ve largely stopped reading it. Funnily enough, Damian, I used to comment on your rather excitable pieces in that paper. I’m mostly on the Guardian now, but I don’t click on articles which don’t allow comments for the same reason I won’t on the Telegraph: most of the articles present a very slanted view of the world, with claims which don’t stand up – and are not above trotting out downright lies …
Comment threads aren’t welcomed by professional writers because they remove their privileged position: embarrassingly, they allow scrutiny of articles to be placed in situ. This doesn’t really affect careful writers who produce well-researched and analytical articles, at worst they’ll get a tide of childish bile from people unwilling to listen to their viewpoint; but for the many charlatans who’ve based their careers on spewing (previously unchallenged) polemic, there’s an almost inevitable payback below every trashy article they produce: comment after comment pulling apart their tawdry arguments. Consequently, comments are the best thing which has ever happened to news media.
Finally, another reader said that any media outlet that drops comments will lose readers:
Like many I stopped paying a sub to the Telegraph and now hardly visit even for the free articles. Other places will get the traffic of the excluded.
That’s definitely true. I, too, stopped reading The Telegraph after they dropped comments. I read a lot more Guardian articles now.
Me too! I didn’t contribute much in the comment sections, but they were the main reason I used and subscribed to the DT. I no longer subscribe and it isn’t even in my Favourites folder any longer. I stopped visiting the site altogether.
… it was the comments that entertained, not the articles!
Yes, I used to read the comments for useful responses and links rebutting or adding more to the articles.
The Catholic Herald article attempts to strike a regretful tone in announcing its new policy and ultimately sends readers to Facebook. What about readers who don’t want to be on Facebook yet would like to contribute?
… we are a small team. Our three full-time editorial staff (including me) work round the clock with a little army of part-timers to produce an up-to-the-minute news site and a weekly magazine (we made the change in 2014, after 127 years as a broadsheet).
Inevitably, time is scarce. And that is why we’ve decided to close comments on our articles (in common with many other Catholic websites).
The decision has been a difficult one. Readers have, over the years, offered insightful, funny and heartfelt responses to our articles. But moderating comments is a time-consuming daily task. We believe that time could be better spent on offering readers more news and analysis.
This does not mean the end of dialogue with our readers. We know that this bond is vital. When major issues arise we will post items that allow for comments. Meanwhile, our Facebook page is always open for discussions.
The Catholic site discussing this new policy has this:
Shame. The Catholic Herald had done so well for so long. It is so sad that it has finally capitulated to various pressures at such a crucial time in the Church’s life.
Whatever financial rewards come their way, I’m sure it won’t be through their print edition since whenever I go into a Church there are always a good few copies to spare.
Certain people, however, will be happy about this decision. This decision is a slap in the face to their readership. I won’t be reading it anymore. What a self-defeating decision. Their writers – talented as some of them are – are not the main attraction of blogs. The main attraction of blogs is that others can contribute to the issue being dealt with. I would have thought that to those interested in gaining an audience in the Catholic world today that this was self-evident.
But you know, what do I know?
Pray for blogs, pray for bloggers and pray for journalists and the Catholic Press. I guess you could say we’re all up against it in one way or another.
Every person hungry for the truth, whether it be religious or secular, laments every occasion when yet another major media site closes comments.
Now imagine if The Spectator had closed comments on Damian Thompson’s article. Nearly everyone reading it would have wondered what he was talking about. He had no news at all to support his headline. We would have walked away none the wiser.
However, that one comment linking to the Catholic Herald policy adopted in August helped flesh out the matter.
That is, if that’s what Thompson was referring to.