Local churches for local people

Since the 16th century the Leigh family, Austen’s relatives, had owned Adlestrop Park, the great house which is thought to have inspired Sotherton Court, the estate in her novel Mansfield Park.

But the house has been restored and is now owned by the Collins family who are also generous donors to projects including the refurbishment of the church’s five bells.

Now the rector and churchwardens have asked a consistory court to let Dominic Collins install a hatchment, a coat of arms display, in the church in memory of his late wife.

But the idea was opposed by local historian and Austen expert Victoria Huxley, who said it was inappropriate to install a memorial to a family who were not the Leighs.

She wrote: “I was very surprised that someone with a relatively short link to the village (compared to the age of the church) should seek to place their coat of arms in the church, and I do not think that most people in the village have been alerted to this request,” adding: “I feel that only a family which has strong ties over several generations should have such a display.”

Moron. Such hatchments act – to use a modern terminology – as a blockchain recording who were the major landowners in the area. Absolutely every one of them was new at some time, marking the social climbing of some arriviste. Still become that historical record though.

16 comments on “Local churches for local people

  1. Seems quite appropriate.

    Perhaps “freeze history in aspic” historians need to be frozen in aspic.

    Having your own planning and legal systems has certain advantages :-).

  2. Only four generations in the village? Ah, incomers!

    I feel like an incomer in my town, even though my mother, two of her brothers, and all her ancestors were born there, I had the audacity to be born elsewhere.

  3. That sounds like a storyline from Midsomer murders.

    I know the producers of the show were accused of racism cos they never had a black face ever in show.

    Trouble is now Midsomer is some kind of multi cultural hell with all the killings and ethnics running amok.

  4. The Parish Church in my previous parish had a hatchment showing the coats of arms of all the Lord Mayors residing in the parish at the time of their mayorality. No requirement that their great-grandfathers had lived there too.
    Second point – the Rector and Churchwardens have made this request after a vote in the Parochial Church Council: I think it is safe to conclude that every active member of the Congregation is aware of the proposal. But Ms Huxley seems to want herself, representing non-church-goers, to have the power of veto over what the church family may display within their church. That is comparable to your demanding the right to veto the decorations in Eton or Ampleforth!

  5. She’s been rebuffed, in a refreshingly muscular Christian way, by the authorities, so the plan will go ahead.

  6. As someone familiar with the Leigh ancestry and connected ones in the vicinity of Adlestrop at the present day there are a very large number of people around with one ancestor or connection with the area in the deep past. That this might apply to Dominic Collins or his late wife having one unknown and maybe difficult to trace is worth a small bet.

  7. Several tons of fresh manure need to be delivered onto Mrs Huxley’s no doubt immaculately manicured front lawn

  8. Victoria Huxley : apply for planning permission for your own church. Plenty of people from the Wesleyans to the Mormons have done this. Then the “Your gaff, your rules” principle applies.

  9. I like to think the Collins family are the descendants of the oily Reverend Collins in Pride and Prejudice

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