On This Day: Bones Of Contention

April the 19th is the day of Alphege, who was an Anglo-Saxon monk of Deerhurst near Gloucester. Old Alfie, as I rather irreverently refer to him purely because it’s easier, was made the bishop of Winchester in 984 and Archbishop of Canterbury in 1005. 

When he took the post of Archbishop he took with him the head of St.Swithin, like you do. I would normally just take a book.

When the Danes invaded in 1011 he refused to leave his people, and when held to ransom he refused to let the money of the poor be used to buy his freedom.

A 13th Century stained glass window at Canterbury Cathedral, depicting Alfie’s abduction. Note the Viking stood behind him giving him a Karate chop.


The following year, his captors, not exactly renown for their patience, finally lost it during a drunken feast at Greenwich and pelted him with bones and the heads of cattle. They then killed him with an axe-a noteworthy example of a martyr witnessing to justice rather than faith.

What’s it all about, Alfie? 

He became the first Archbishop of Canterbury to die a violent death. 

Alfie is shown here being asked advice. I would imagine his reply could be: “Don’t bother taking a Saint’s head with you for luck. It’s not worth the effort-and you could instead pack more socks.”

So, Tonight’s Conversation . . . 

 . . . between my wife and I.

Me:”I’ve just picked up a book about Julian of Norwich.” 

Jen:”Why?” 

Me:”You know who Julian was?” 

Jen:”Of course I do.” 

Me:”Who?”

 Jen:”A bloke from years ago. See-I surprise you don’t I? I might not know what he did, but I know he lived years ago. So there!”

 Me:”Julian of Norwich was a woman.” 

Jen:”Whatever.” 

Hand Me Down Stories

I thought I’d reblog this after recently talking to someone about the power of storytelling-and the ghost of Annabella.

City Jackdaw

When I went to Primary School, there used to be a name whispered in the corridors and classrooms that all of the kids knew: Annabella.

Annabella was the name of the ghost of a girl who was said to haunt the girls’ toilets. If I recall the story correctly, it was a girl who was supposed to have hung herself in there. This may be a recurring theme, as when I went to Secondary School there was a story of a boy who had hung himself from the bell tower.

What dark imaginations the young have. The thrill in being scared.

But that latter school story was more vague, the boy-ghost being anonymous. In my junior school the ghost had a name.

My wife went to the same primary school as I. She says that out of the few cubicles in the toilets, there was one whose door was always…

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Suffer The Children

I love these old photographs of these children here, but feel kinda sad for them too. Can’t help but look at them and contrast them with the lives of my own children.

City Jackdaw

I recently read about a local retired clergyman, Canon Jim Burns, who has written a book about the history of the whit walks in Manchester. He says that the first procession of Church of England members took place in 1801, between St.Ann’s Church and Manchester Cathedral.

In those days children worked for six days a week between 4.00am and 8.00pm. The local Sunday schools did not want the children, on their one day off, to become involved in cockfighting, gambling, or the drinking of gin.

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The idea they came up with was for the Sunday schools from around Manchester to have a big assembly for the children to attend, but the place to hold it could not be decided upon. Some argued for St.Ann’s church, which was more fashionable, while others argued in favour of the Cathedral.

In the end a compromise was reached in that the children would all…

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Love Conquers All

I saw this photograph tonight. It is of the graves of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband, in Holland, 1888. They were not allowed to be buried together because of their different religious affiliations.

It leaves me with mixed emotions. I marvelled at the ingenuity of the stone hands, joined together across the brick divide and thus overcoming man’s pedantic rules.

But also anger that this couple couldn’t be laid to rest together in the same grave. For, if a man and wife could live together (presumably) in peace despite belonging to different denominations of faith, why should such ecumenical harmony be denied them in death?

What do you guys think?