Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wait for Me!--Going to Church

A continuing series of Neels-ian excerpts from the autobiography ("Wait for Me!") of Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire:

We went to church of course, at St. Mary's, Swinbrook. Muv and Farve sat on the short pew at the back and we directly in front of them. The effigies of the Fettiplace family on the north wall near the alter fascinated us: six life-sized stone men lying on their sides, heads supported by their hands, elbows resting on stone pillows. John Piper described them...as 'intelligent, wicked-looking former lords of the village, lying on slabs like proud sturgeon.'....
My parents made several contributions to the church, replacing the Victorian tiled floor with stone flags and installing oak pews. Farve had promised to give the pews should he ever have an unexpected windfall. This unlikely event came about in 1924 when he placed an ante-post bet at huge odds on Master Robert in the Grand National and the horse won...My father had originally wanted a horse's head carved on the end of each pew to record how the munificent gift had been paid for, but the Bishop refused. Farve thought this hypocritical of the Prince of the Church as he knew perfectly well where the money had come from.

Araminta's eyes wandered away from her regular perusal of the wicked-looking Fettiplace men and met the mocking expression of the vast Dutchman...