Church Flower Ladies – And One Or Two Men

SMB Harvest 2004 005

Andover Advertiser 2 October 1914

Andover Advertiser 2 October 1914

The Primitive Methodists may win out in the provision of food and cups of tea, but when it comes to church flowers, it is hard to dislodge the Church of England from her pedestal. The person who explains this best is Barbara Pym, as she does here:

It was a Saturday morning … it was the usual gathering, Winifred, Sister Blatt, Miss Enders, Miss Statham and one or two others. The only man present, apart from the clergy, was Jim Storry, a feeble-minded youth who made himself useful in harmless little ways and would sometimes arrange the wire frames on the window-sills for us or fill jam jars with water….‘Well, well, here we all are,’ said Julian in a rather more clerical tone than usual. ‘It’s very good of you all to come along and help and I’m especially grateful to those who have brought flowers. Lady Farmer,’ he mentioned the name of the only titled member remaining in our congregation, ‘has most kindly sent these magnificent lilies from her country home.’…We went into the church and began sorting out the flowers and deciding what should be used where. Winifred, as the vicar’s sister, had usurped the privilege of a wife and always did the altar, but I must confess that it was not always very well done. I had graduated from a very humble window that nobody ever noticed to helping Sister Blatt with the screen, and we began laboriously fixing old potted-meat jars into place with wires so that they could be filled with flowers. Lady Farmer’s lilies were of course to go on the altar.

So what does this allocation of duties at St Peter’s on 2 October 1914 reveal? Well, St Peter’s of 1914 and Barbara Pym agree on the pecking order: Altar, Screen, Windows.

Altar and Sanctuary

Miss Boyes

Margaret Angela Boys, daughter of Sir Charles Vernon Boys (of whom much more later) and Marion Pollock, Lady Boys
.

Miss Miley

Grace Virginia Miley, daughter of Miles Miley and Lucy Boys (and first cousin of Margaret Boys)

Miss H Selfe

Hilda Selfe via ancestry.co..uk, courtesy Barbara Hockmeyer

Hilda Selfe via ancestry.co..uk, courtesy Barbara Hockmeyer

(Ann) Hilda Selfe

Screen

 

Mr A H White

Albert Henry White of Barford House.

Mr W Benham

Possibly William Henry Benham, a gardener

Pulpit

Miss Freemantle

Probably Lucy Freemantle, 73-year old spinster, helped by her niece, Jessie?

Pillars

Miss Longman

Either Georgina Blanche or Maggie Gertrude, spinster daughters of William Longman, builder and undertaker, of Link House, and his wife Mary Ann.

Miss Willshire

Presumably Laura Willshire of The Plough Inn

Font

Miss Gascoigne

Catherine Anne, 49 year old housekeeper from Northamptonshire working at Diplands.

Windows

Miss Freemantle

Presumably Jessie Freemantle, aged 43, niece of Lucy Freemantle for whom she acted as housekeeper

Miss Longman

Either Georgina Blanche or Maggie Gertrude, spinster daughters of William Longman, builder and undertaker, of Link House, and his wife Mary Ann.

Miss Wiltshire

(not known)

Miss Marchment

Anne or Ellen, daughters of Henry Marchment of Middle Wyke

Mrs Cook

Sarah Cook, wife of John, a farmer?

Annie Cook

(not known)

Mr Titt

James Titt, agent for the Hampshire & General Friendly Society

That is pretty much in line with the Order of Precedence– (daughters of knights at the top, insurance salesmen at the bottom) combined with a shrewd village assessment, crafted over the centuries, of the precedence of an elder daughter of a builder in relation to the younger daughter of a farmer. The decision depends on the size of the building business/farm, number of employees, and length of residence in the village. Also, of course, the degree of friendliness with the supervisor of the flower ladies…

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s