Friday 14 January 2022

Sheeran's Church

 I've always found Ed Sheeran's massive success a total mystery. His songs sound to me like, well, so much dead air – too nondescript to register, let alone catch my attention. However, from what little I know of him as a man, he strikes me as a decent sort, a mensch even. Now my opinion of his character has been further raised by the news that he is building not only a church but also a crypt, or underground burial space, in the grounds of his vast Suffolk estate, 'Sheeranville'. The story is told in typically exhaustive style in the Daily Mail, complete with all manner of elaborate graphics. I love that a young pop star, at the height of his fame, should be thinking about death and, presumably, religious worship. And I love that what he proposes to build is not the monument of a megalomaniac but a relatively humble building, with a simple, small burial chamber (nothing like the 'mausoleum' that some have been excitedly reporting). The boat-shaped church I like very much. It looks as if it will sit perfectly in the Suffolk countryside (provided they get the roofing material right – on the architect's drawings it looks suitably unobtrusive). 
  On one of the aerial photographs of 'Sheeranville', the tower of the nearby parish church – St Michael's, Framlingham – can be seen. This fine church contains several reminders of an age when the building of splendid monuments to oneself and one's family was de rigueur for the wealthier members of society. Chief among them are several tombs of the Howard family, including a grand painted alabaster monument that commemorates Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, the poet. 

Howard, having fallen foul of Henry VIII and been imprisoned in the Tower, was executed in 1547 at the age of thirty. He never got to experience the old age he assumes in his poem, 'The Ages of Man'...

Laid in my quiet bed, in study as I were,
I saw within my troubled head a heap of thoughts appear,
And every thought did show so lively in mine eyes,
That now I sigh'd, and then I smil'd, as cause of thought did rise.
I saw the little boy, in thought how oft that he
Did wish of God to scape the rod, a tall young man to be;
The young man eke, that feels his bones with pains oppress'd,
How he would be a rich old man, to live and lie at rest;
The rich old man, that sees his end draw on so sore,
How he would be a boy again, to live so much the more.
Whereat full oft I smil'd, to see how all these three,
From boy to man, from man to boy, would chop and change degree.
And musing thus, I think the case is very strange
That man from wealth, to live in woe, doth ever seek to change.
Thus thoughtful as I lay, I saw my wither'd skin,
How it doth show my dinted jaws, the flesh was worn so thin;
And eke my toothless chaps, the gates of my right way,
That opes and shuts as I do speak, do thus unto me say:
"Thy white and hoarish hairs, the messengers of age,
That show like lines of true belief that this life doth assuage,
Bids thee lay hand and feel them hanging on thy chin,
The which do write two ages past, the third now coming in.
Hang up, therefore, the bit of thy young wanton time,
And thou that therein beaten art, the happiest life define."
Whereat I sigh'd and said: "Farewell, my wonted joy,
Truss up thy pack and trudge from me to every little boy,
And tell them thus from me: their time most happy is,
If to their time they reason had to know the truth of this."


  1. That's quite the last line. Liked this one Nige, thanks.

  2. As I move closer to joining the minerals, it has taken a great deal of skill to stay completely untarnished by the music of Ed Sheeran and, for me, his female opposite number Adele. I know that even without my support they will continue to build on their already enormous success. I thank you Nige for bringing me up to speed on the good works of Ed outside music, as it makes me feel a little better about myself, and my mean-spirited attitude toward a simple enjoyment that millions, seemingly, find rewarding

  3. Ah yes, Adele – another mystifying phenomenon...

  4. I haven’t yet read beyond your first line. Stuck there, wondering how you ever knowingly heard the songs. I have seen his photograph but it didn’t encourage me to become further tainted. I suppose one of the advantages of living in Budapest is that one can lead a sheltered life