Tuesday 15 June 2021

'As far as Englishness is concerned...'

I've been off on my Mercian travels again. This is Staunton Harold, just over the Derbyshire border in Leicestershire. 'For position,' says Pevsner, 'Staunton Harold, the house and chapel, are unsurpassed in the country – at least as far as Englishness is concerned...' The chapel is a unique survival – a church built during the Commonwealth, and built in a fully Gothic style. A plaque on the West tower tells the story: 'In  the yeare: 1653 when all things sacred were throughout ye nation Either demolisht or profaned Sir Richard Shirley Barronet Founded this Church whose singular praise it is to have done the best things in ye worst times And hope them in the most calamitous.'

  In 2021, a message from the present owner can be seen on a notice board. It is less eloquently expressed, but it too speaks of trying to do the best things in the worst times:
 'It is more than three hundred years since the first earl began to make Staunton Hall into a stately home. In that time the Ferrers family and others must have hosted hundreds of grand celebrations here, including a fair sprinkling of masked balls. Surely never, until last week, a masked wedding. Limited to thirty people, music but no dancing, and daughter Caroline spending much of her time disinfecting surfaces. One redeeming feature; the weather was fine and sunny.
I am fed up with the whole business and just hope that 21st June will see an end to it all. Covid 19 has been reported to the exclusion of all else. Even the reported number of cases is a nonsense. I, and a dozen others I know, have had the virus, but only three were tested. Approximately one thousand four hundred people die in England and Wales each day, of which a handful have Covid. The collateral damage to our physical and mental health, and to the economy, is known to be immense, but not assessed. We must be allowed to judge the risk for ourselves.'

Well, all hopes for 21st June have now been dashed. The lunacy goes on, but there are many, many people who have had more than enough of it...

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