Friday 21 September 2007

For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Used.

There's an 18th century version of this six word Hemingway short story at Quainton. I was there last Sunday to dedicate a fine new Church upper room and organ rebuild. It's a busy village with a preaching cross and mill, where people eat together in their superb fourteenth century Church, making it a real focal point for the whole community. David Campbell, Churchwarden, chairs Buckinghamshire Community Action which develops and regenerates rural communities all over the county. Phillip Mears is doing a fantastic job as local vicar. Although it's invidious to name names, it's people who move projects like this forward by keeping faith with them and seeing them through — Thanks to David's fellow churchwarden June Hanson, Chris Wilcox (Treasurer), and in the past the Revd Martin Partridge and Philip Goddard.They showed me the small ringing chamber, which you usually only get to see if you're a bellringer, & I felt like I'd stumbled on King Tut's Tomb! It contains two world class Baroque works of art. On the left is an unusual wall memorial from 1638, with Chubby weeping putti, one of which once fell off and bashed a hole in the floor.

On the right, the other tells a story like Hemingway's. It's a huge Roubiliac. Judge Dormer, in his robes of state, and his wife stand weeping over the body of their 12 year old son, who died of ‘consumption’ (TB? Cancer?) in 1731. That's it. Fabulously wealthy, gutted, brought down by the death of their only son. It's a postcard from the past, to remember life is precious and fragile, one of the finest Baroque works of art in the world, a snapshot of a family tragedy, hidden away in a village church's ringing chamber — another day at the office, in a way, but what a fabulous office!

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