“Angles at Play” – England in sport and spirituality | Crisis Magazine

 

“England is a strong land and a sturdy, and the plenteousest corner of the world… England is full of mirth and of game, and men oft-times able to mirth and game; free men of heart and with tongue.”

Source: Angles at Play – Crisis Magazine

An interesting take, from a Roman Catholic perspective, on the relationship between England’s “land of mirth and game,” and the English spirit, and spirituality – particularly as expressed in traditional faith and practice during the centuries of medieval catholicism, but continuing well into the modern era, especially in more rural (and thus, typically, traditional) areas:

“The English have a genius for play. Which other nation of Christendom has at the center of its villages not just a church but a field for sport? Along with the church and pub, the quintessential center of the English village is the cricket green…

“The origins of sport lie in the recreations and pastimes of pre-modern rural people. The agrarian and religious calendar shaped popular recreation as it did nearly every other aspect of English culture. From the land full of mirth and game, originated the primordial forms of many of the sports the world enjoys today.

“During the Middle Ages, the Church’s feast days were firmly embedded in England’s seasons of agricultural labor. Plough Monday, spring-time celebrations, harvest feasts, and autumn fairs were vital moments within the rhythm of organic English society. Robert Malcolmson notes how feast days were the occasion for festive leisure and for archaic forms of contemporary sports.

“Most of the saints’ days fostered in medieval England were tragically suppressed during the English Reformation, but many of the associated customs survived. Parish feasts (known as wakes) continued into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries while the principal holidays—Christmas, Shrovetide, Easter, May Day, and Whitsuntide—continued to be observed despite the best efforts of the essentially urban puritan movement.”

Well worth a read!

 

Random facts of the day: some traditional measurements!

https://sites.google.com/a/wrps.net/lhschemistry/_/rsrc/1461015140094/unit-3-labs/units-of-measurement/Us%20Survey%20units.jpg?height=251&width=400

Random piece of general knowledge (many thanks to The Old Farmers Almanac):

1 league = 3 miles = 24 furlongs

In other words, there are eight furlongs to a mile. So how long is a furlong? 660 feet, or 40 rods (one rod being 5 ½ yards). Seen another way, a furlong is equal to one eighth of a mile: equivalent to 660 feet, 220 yards, 40 rods (1 rod = 5 1/2 feet), or 10 chains (one chain, therefore, being equal to 66 feet).

Originally, it was the length of the furrow in one acre of a ploughed field – thus, the name: one “furrow long” – in the old open-field system of medieval England, in which acres were usually long and narrow, and was the distance a team of oxen could plough without resting. From there, it passed into the British Imperial and U.S. customary system of measurements. An acre was reckoned as one furlong in length (naturally), and one chain in width, and was considered to be the amount of land one man, behind one ox, could plough in one day.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/Anthropic_Farm_Units.png/400px-Anthropic_Farm_Units.png

Other oxen-derived measurements include an oxgang (from the same root as our contemporary word “going,” with the implication of walking *), the amount of land tillable by one ox in a ploughing season (an area which could vary from village to village, but was typically around 15 acres), a virgate, the amount of land tillable by two oxen in one ploughing season (thus, two oxgangs), and a carucate, the amount of land that could be tilled by eight oxen in a ploughing season: equal, naturally, to 8 oxgangs or 4 virgates. Thus, these measurements were not random or arbitrary, they described what could be done on them, in a way that was very useful and informative for an agricultural society!

*  That derivation still exists, though somewhat concealed by changes in the language, and our understanding: a “gang” is a group of people who go (walk) around together. And the archaic English word “gangly” refers to a person or (usually young) animal who appears to be “all legs,” and therefore seems made for walking! Also, a “chain-gang” is not just a group of people joined by a chain; they are chain-gang: that is to say, they are walking chained, rather than free.

On a related note, the furlong was historically considered to be equivalent to the Roman stade (from which we get “stadium”), itself derived from the Greek stadion ~ and it was, although approximately: the old Roman measurement was actually 625 feet. The Romans reckoned eight stadia to the mile, and (as remains the case in our English measurement, albeit using furlongs) three miles to the league. Thus, the Roman mile was a little shorter than ours is. A league was considered to be the distance a man could walk in one hour, and the mile (from mille, meaning “thousand”) consisted of 1,000 passi (paces: five feet, or two single steps of two-and-a-half feet each).

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/proxy/kt0RpmdwysRDICsYv2fk1p1CQ2HmONAHkV_mdCZtmx-gTr9ieNl6lJieYNEsxs5-UuTF-0sVGBTtfhkIffR0iHE27Q

Now you know probably more than you ever wanted to about ancient land-measurements!

(Additional information gleaned from Wikipedia, and from my own knowledge of things medieval!)

Some reasons to read Beowulf | The Wordhoard

Image result for beginning of beowulf

“Here are just a few reasons why you might want to read Beowulf.”

Source: Some reasons to read Beowulf | The Wordhoard

There are many reasons you may wish to read Beowulf, the classic Old English epic – which has, of course, been translated into modern English many times. Among the reasons cited by this blogger:

“First, it is a famous example of literature from the Early Middle Ages. Second, it represents English-language literature in its infancy. Third, it has had impacted modern literature since its rediscovery.”

All true, of course! But I am convinced that the best reason is that it’s a rousing good story, created, recited, and later written and read, by and for our forebears – at least, the ancestors of those of us who are of English heritage, by blood, language and culture!

Here is a modern-English translation, and one that grasps the rhythms and richness of the great original. And here is a recitation of the opening stanzas, in the original language:

I like this one, because it’s set up in such a way that one can follow along in both Anglo-Saxon (Old English) and modern English!

 

Gunpowder treason and plot: raging against the mellow light | Laudable Practice

https://anglophilicanglican.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/image.jpg

“And why? their communing is not for peace : but they imagine deceitful words against them that are quiet in the land” – Ps.35:20.

Source: Gunpowder treason and plot: raging against the mellow light

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

But what is the significance of this day? As “Historic UK” puts it, “A group of Roman Catholic nobles and gentlemen led by Robert Catesby conspired to essentially end Protestant rule with perhaps the biggest ‘bang’ in history. Their plan was to blow up the King, Queen, church leaders, assorted nobles and both Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder strategically placed in the cellars beneath the Palace of Westminster.”

One of the conspirators, Guy (“Guido”) Fawkes, “was arrested in the early hours of the morning of November 5th 1605, in a cellar under the House of Lords, next to the 36 kegs of gunpowder, with a box of matches in his pocket and a guilty expression on his face!” Ever since, “the burning of the Guy” – an effigy of Fawkes (even though the conspirators were actually hanged, drawn, and quartered) – and celebratory fireworks have been a feature of the day in Merrie Olde England!

But the significance goes deeper:

“‘Mellow light.’ It is the phrase Eamon Duffy uses to describes ‘the church of George Herbert.’ Herbert was ordained in 1629, early in the reign of Charles I. He was, in other words, ordained into a Church profoundly shaped by James VI/I, in which the influence of Jacobean Anglicanism was pronounced. The ‘mellow light,’ then, of Herbert’s Church was Jacobean light.

‘It was in the Jacobean Church that, in the words of Diarmaid MacCulloch, ‘the obscure and slightly controversial figure of Hooker was being transformed into an iconic … authority.’ It was in the Jacobean Church that the sermons of Lancelot Andrewes were heard. And so, as T.S. Eliot put it:

“‘The intellectual achievement and the prose style of Hooker and Andrewes came to complete the structure of the English Church … the achievement of Hooker and Andrewes was to make the English Church more worthy of intellectual assent.’

“The Jacobean Church was also the arena for the sermons of John Donne, demonstrating a native piety at once rational and deeply heart-felt, learned and popular, catholic and reformed, by which – as Donne stated in one of his sermons – ‘papistry was driven out, and puritanism kept out’…

“It was this ‘mellow light’ which the Gunpowder conspirators sought to extinguish.”

God be thanked, they were not successful!

 

Glories of the West / Blighty Boys: London before the fall

Source: London before the fall | Traditional Britain Group – Under Attack

Ah, how sadly the mighty have fallen! Scenes from London in “the good old days,” when it was still an English city (it will not surprise my readers that I wholeheartedly agree with John Cleese on this matter, based not only on news reports, but anecdotes from people I know who either live there, or have visited there over the last few years)…

 

Today is the 159th Anniversary of the first performance of Thomas Arne’s “Rule Britannia”!

Source: Rule Britannia – Last Night of the Proms 2009 | YouTube

Thomas Arne’s song “Rule Britannia” was performed for the first time on this date, 159 years ago: August 1, 1740. Historic UK notes that

“The patriotic song ‘Rule, Britannia!, Britannia rule the waves’, is traditionally performed at the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ which takes place each year at the Royal Albert Hall.”

Ignoring certain historical inaccuracies , this is an awesome rendition by mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly!

 

Brother Cadfael: An Appreciation | CrimeReads

Image result for ellis peters brother cadfael
Sample covers of three of the books in the series of medieval mysteries, The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, by Ellis Peters.

Any writer who can make a living by her pen can be proud of her work, but it wasn’t until 1977, when A Morbid Taste for Bones introduced Cadfael, that Pargeter made her bid for literary immortality.

Source: Brother Cadfael: An Appreciation | CrimeReads

The Anglophilic Anglican has alluded to this excellent series of historical mysteries – “The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael,” by Ellis Peters (nom de plume of medieval scholar, author, and Shrewsbury, England, resident Edith Pargeter) – but I have not addressed them directly. Let me make up for that omission, now!

For those who may not be aware, the Cadfael Chronicles are a long-running series of medieval mysteries comprising 21 volumes – 20 novels and a short-story collection – written between 1977 and 1994, and set in 12th-century England: specifically, in the years 1137–1145, in and around the town (city) of Shrewsbury, near the Welsh border, and its Benedictine monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul.

The protagonist, the eponymous Brother Cadfael of the aforementioned monastery, is both monk and herbalist, as well as a sort of medieval private investigator; a veteran Crusader and one-time sailor who – having seen much of the known world, in his first half-century or so – has chosen this quiet (?) harbor to live out the remainder of his earthy life.

Let’s let Levi Stahl tell it: Continue reading “Brother Cadfael: An Appreciation | CrimeReads”

BBC News – The Mary Rose: A Tudor ship’s secrets revealed

More than 30 years after it was raised from the seabed – and almost 500 years since it sank – the secrets of Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose, are being revealed to the public – along with the faces of its crew.

Source: BBC News – The Mary Rose: A Tudor ship’s secrets revealed

The Anglophilic Anglican has not been posting much that is either Anglophilic or Anglican, of late! I shall try to correct that imbalance: one should not stick one’s head in the ground, especially at a time of crisis for the Western world; but on the other hand, man cannot live by politics alone, either – at least not without going stark raving crazy!

At any rate, I would love to visit the Mary Rose Museum – dedicated to King Henry VIII’s flagship, sunk in 1545 and raised in 1982 – in Portsmouth, England, one day:

“Every artefact on show here is an original piece found with the wreck. Some of the cannons were still sticking out of the gunports when it was discovered in 1971.

“The Mary Rose was raised from the seabed of the Solent in 1982, and has been on display before, but it is only now that insights into life on board are being shown to the public.

“Forensic scientists, more used to working with murder victims, have recreated the faces of seven of the about 500 men who died when the ship sank in 1545.

“The new Mary Rose Museum has been dedicated to them, and it is through them the story of the ship is now being told.”

As I say, I would love to visit, some day! I do hope I get back to England, before I die…

Pendant of H.M.S. Tiger
Tudor naval streamer or pendant – “The Tudor naval streamer was a long, tapering flag, flown from the top of the forecastle, between 20 yards or longer in lenght, and up to 8 yards wide.” (https://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/gb~tudor.html#dragon)

Continue reading “BBC News – The Mary Rose: A Tudor ship’s secrets revealed”

Glories of the West: An English Village (1957)

What we have lost…

Source: An English Village: Harting

Also available here.

Short documentary from 1957, filmed in the English village of Harting. Produced for the Central Office of Information (COI), and shown internationally.

 

Must Farm: Britain’s Pompeii Reveals Burning Bronze Age Secrets | Ancient Origins

Remains of a house at Must Farm showing the unburnt stumps of posts under the waterline during the fire (top-right) and collapsed joists

Archaeologists discover that Must Farm Bronze Age settlement, dubbed the Pompeii of Britain, was burned to the ground soon after it was built.

Source: Must Farm: Britain’s Pompeii Reveals Burning Bronze Age Secrets | Ancient Origins

The site – a farming settlement built on piles in a wetland (fen), most likely for defensive purposes – continues to yield tremendous insights into the material culture of the period. This, despite the shortness of its habitation: apparently only about a year passed between its completion, and its destruction by fire. Of course, that very fact makes it a valuable snapshot of a particular moment in British prehistory!

“The press release for the article in Antiquity states that the fire was ‘A tragedy for the inhabitants, but lucky for archaeologists, as the fluvial silts have preserved wooden artefacts, pottery sets, bronze tools and weapons, fabrics and fibres , querns, loom weights, spindle whorls, animal remains, plants and seeds, coprolites…'”

It appears that between 50 and 80 people may have lived at the settlement – suggestive of a small tribe, or perhaps a large extended family (such distinctions can be blurry, at best). “Tools, housing, and even vitrified food have all been impeccably preserved at the waterlogged site.” Lead archaeologist of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Mark Knight, comments,

“Working at the site was a series of daily, almost hourly moments of astonishment and wonder (with each new discovery seemingly outshining the last). This was invariably accompanied by a faint rotten-egg smell that goes with most waterlogged sites – the smell of gradual organic decay.”

Enough to make me wish I had stuck with archaeology! Although the chances of being able to work on this site would have been slight, even if I had. Alas! For more, check out these links:

Excavations at British sites are Revolutionizing Prehistoric Studies and Revealing Secrets of the Past

Bronze Age time capsule: 3,000-year-old vitrified food found in jars in England