10 September 2019

glamour pusses

What an important saint he was, S Hugh Bishop of Lincoln (c1135-1200; within whose massive diocese medieval Oxford lay); who certainly consecrated the church of S Giles in this city in 1200. On the occasion of this visit to Oxford, so the traditional account has it, he instituted the Giler*, still the largest fair in England, which (see a previous post), occupies the whole of the broad thoroughfare called S Giles' Street, North of the North Gate.

S Hugh is best known among the narrators of 'romantic' tales because he noticed that the body of Henry II's paelex [the word used in the old rite Mattins readings for S Hugh's feast] Rosamund Clifford had been buried in the sanctuary of Godstow Priory and that her resting place had become something of a flower-covered popular shrine (this mob adulation post mortem of a royal glamour-puss is curiously redolent of the bizarre and sick cultus of Diana Spencer ... I pray and hope that neither the Duchess of Cambridge nor the Duchess of Sussex, pretty poppets, will die before multa post lustra they have sunk far into senility ...). Accordingly, he ordered that she should be removed and reburied outside in loco profano**.

Happy times ... when ecclesiastics were willing to mark their disapproval of the public adultery of kings and magnates. Nowadays, who cares any more if a 'royal' goes through a form of marriage with his/her paelex? An Archbishop of Canterbury might even grace such an event with his presence. And who can blame him, given the compliance of Dr Cranmer in every royal whimsy?

The 'romantic' can still visit the ruins of Godstow Priory, opposite the Trout, a favourite undergraduate pub in our days but now unhappily devoid of either 'character' or 'romance'.
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*Giles = Giler; traditional Oxford slang. Cf. Proctor = Progger; Breakfast = Brekker; Queens = Quaggers; Jesus College = Jaggers; etc.. Soccer (for AsSOCiation Football) and Rugger survive nationally. Fr Hummerstone, with characteristic philological acuity, once reminded me of the all-important Wagger Pagger Bagger where, in the primitive days before episcopal and diocesan communications became paperless, we used to file away ... er ...

** I wonder if S Hugh wrote Latin Elegiacs? Some phrases survive of an inscription in that metre incised upon her tomb, which I will very loosely paraphrase in English: "Rosa munda is supposed to mean clean rose, but this specimen was distinctly filthy. She used to have a very nice smell, but now she just ... smells".

Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a learned lady ... I wonder if she had a reason for giving the name Rosamund (interpreted by Sayers as rosa mundi) to the sexually unwholesome murderee in Thrones, Dominations?

3 comments:

frjustin said...

Philological footnote for transpondine readers: the all-important Wagger Pagger Bagger would, in this context, be referred to simply as a Wagger Bagger.

Bop said...

You always write well when you write about poppets, concubines, and bishops in position of authority. Or so I have noticed.

John Nolan said...

Nottingham's Goose Fair occupies more acres than does the Giler.