Sorry about the delay in writing this up, have only just had time to do it.
We gathered at St Botolph’s Bishopsgate on Saturday morning May 21st, and hung around in the churchyard until it was time for the Mass. I stuck my head around the kitchen door to offer help, but it was already full of eager hands chopping fruit and suchlike, so I stowed the Special Chocolate Cake and left. St Botolph's
is a lovely church, though I can’t find a picture of the interior for you. Father Nicolas du Chaxel celebrated the Tridentine Mass, and the choir sang the Byrd Mass for Four Voices, his Ave verum and the chant beautifully. There was a slight shortage of Mass books so we had to share, though as often seems to be the case with missals/mass sheets it was pretty difficult to work out where we were in the service anyway and how many pages to skip for the next bit. First time I’d been to a Tridentine service since I was very young, but I can’t say it had the same effect on me as on Nicola, I don’t think I’d be hooked if I went again. Fr Nicolas preached a short sermon on the importance of artists and writers like Antonia Forest, and we finished up by singing The Lord’s My Shepherd. There was a collection at the end, half for the church and half for the RNLI
Then it was time for people to register and have lunch; while queuing I chatted to liadnan
, about among other things exactly what Antiochian Orthodoxy is, we having noticed that they have services at St Botolph’s. It turned out that one of the women ahead of us in the queue was Antiochian Orthodox, and she told us about their Patriarch in Damascus, Ignatius IV
Eventually everyone got seated in the church hall; a woman sitting near me had brought along a letter she’d received from AF, though I can’t make any revelations because I didn’t get a chance to read it properly. Hope to see one of the people who did tonight, so may report further later. We discussed the future lives of Nicola and Patrick (‘My first crush! You can't slash him!’, explained someone), including whether Nicola might marry Robert Anquetil (edited to correct his name, thanks to jediowl
), and some of the ideas in the ODNB entry for Nicola
that a few of us put together a while ago.
Another letter, and a photograph of AF as a girl, were prizes in the raffle; I won a British Library CD of Elizabethan music. Lunch was very good, and finished with a toast to AF’s memory. Sue Sims, AF’s literary executor, then talked about AF’s life, and the extent to which it’s reflected in the books. She also passed around a photo of AF’s father, Ernest Rubinstein (AF’s real name was Patricia Rubinstein), and AF at her bat mitzvah. Hilary Clare then discussed AF’s place in children’s literature of the period, quoting Victor Watson’s ‘Jane Austen has gone missing’. We all agreed her place is high, natch! frankie_ecap
took notes and is going to report on this bit in more detail.
And then it was time to drag everyone out on the ‘Nicholas Marlow’s London’ walk; I had a group of about 12 people, including liadnan
, who despite the rather mixed weather cheerfully (I think!) walked our route around the City, admiring the statues of beatified chartered accountants in Great Swan Alley, visiting the monument to Hemings and Condell
in St Mary Aldermanbury, getting soaked as we stood at the site of Paul’s Cross in St Paul’s Churchyard, and remembering Nicholas seeing the preachers there, and meeting Humfrey, and trying to imagine the bookshops like the Phoenix Restored where Lloyd’s Bank now is. The rain eventually eased off and we walked along part of the Thames footpath, and saw the place where old London Bridge once was, with its entrance through St Magnus, where Nicolas rode into London with Robin Poley from Southwark under the gatehouse with the severed heads over it. Finally we walked up Gracechurch Street (the route that Burbage used to take the timber from the Theatre to the Globe), and went to look at Great St Helen’s, one of the few medieval buildings left, and where Shakespeare was a parishioner (and defaulting taxpayer). Crosby Place opens off the same street, where Richard of Gloucester lived, but the building is in Chelsea now. Possibly the most appreciated piece of information I was able to give during the walk was that Cloak Street is probably named after the sewer which once ran along it, (cloaca = sewer in Latin).
Back to St Botolph’s for tea, where the chocolate cakes and gingerbread were disappearing rapidly, in time for me to rush off to catch a train to Oxford and others to do a rather fiendish Forest quiz, as set by Hilary Clare. I have a copy at home, so may put the questions up here for people to try - though I don't have the official list of answers.