6 December 2020

S Nicolas of Lancing

That great mass of fine Neo-Gothic buildings which you pass in the train or along the A27 just by Shoreham's exquisite Art Deco Airport, is dedicated to the Assumption and S Nicolas, despite its local nickname Dracula's Castle. It is very punctilious about retaining a proper spelling of NICOLAS without the H. These things matter. Don't ask me Why ... but they do.

When the College Office Book was reissued in 1914, it contained two new English hymns for the Co-Patron, both in the Sapphic metre. The first was composed by the Wykehamist Adam Fox, Master at Lancing 1906-1918, subsequently Warden of Radley College, Dean of Divinity at Magdalen College and Professor of Poetry; finally Canon, Archdeacon, and Sub-Dean of Westminster Abbey.

I had no success in urging upon my colleagues the restoration of his hymn to regular use. It was the stanza

Teach us to honour Nicolas of Myra,

Foeman to error in the Church's Councils,

Lover of sailors, and above all other

     Lover of Children.

which raised their trembling eyebrows. 

The second hymn was by Athelstan Riley, about whom I once wrote a piece on this blog ... does the Search Engine on this blog still work for readers? In his hymn, it was the adonius which concludes the following stanza which, around the time of Ms Spencer's sad demise, wrecked my passionate crusade to get it back into the repertoire:

Rouse thee, great goddess of th'Ephesian temple,

For, lo! the offspring of a greater Virgin

Armeth his servant to destroy thine oak tree

     Dumb, dead Diana. 

Fr Fox had kippers for brekker, lunch, and tea. Not many people know that. We live in a world rife with culpable ignorance.

He had wanted his memorial in the Abbey to read "A Fox gone to Earth", but his executors had as little humour as my one-time colleagues.

Stern literary critics waiting to pounce need to know that this is written in a style/genre which could be categorised as "jocose". I do not really mean to criticise or sneer at either Fox's Executors or my former colleagues; or, indeed, at the late People's Princess alias Queen of Hearts.



Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Sometimes, seemingly, I may stray too close to the wind, and my humour over-step the mark. For which I apologise.

But this is what the boys would have called COOL. And which I would categorise as “uber-cool”.

What a joy poetry is!

Pastor in Monte said...

I had always taken it for granted that the College was named after the two churches in Shoreham by Sea, St Mary [de Haura] and St Nicolas, also spelt, as you note, without the H. Wasn't the College founder, Nat Woodard, curate in Shoreham? I seem also to remember that at one stage St John Henry Newman's sister Jemima was Vicar's Wife there at St Nicolas'. And now there is a primary school dedicated to St Mary and St Nicolas too. Quite the local saint; he has a church up the river at Bramber also.

Pelerin said...

Pastor in Monte mentions the church of St Mary de Haura in Shoreham. One of my ancestors who died in 1727 is buried under the floor of this church 'in the choir pavement'. Some years ago I visited the church in order to take a photo of the memorial plaque there but to my horror found that it had been carpeted throughout with a bright blue carpet. How can the authorities do such a thing in such an acient church? They have erased history. Curiously none of our family know what his connection was to Shoreham.