19 July 2023

Pew Openers?

In S JHN's Loss and Gain (1848), we notice a couple of high church undergraduates entering an Oxford church ... for all I know, it might have been Mags. "' Here's a church open.' said White; 'that's odd; let's go in.'

"They entered; an old woman was dusting the pew as if for a service. 'That will be all set right,' said Willis; 'we must have no women, but sacristans and servers.' ...

"On looking up he saw some ladies in the church whom he and Willis knew--the pretty Miss Boltons--very Catholic girls, and really kind, charitable persons into the bargain. ... their object in entering the church  ... was to see the old woman , who was at once a subject and organ of their bounty ... 'I fear,' answered White, 'it would fare hard with your protegee, the old lady who dusts out the pews.' 'Why, certainly,' said Miss Bolton, 'because there would be no pews to dust ... who will take her present place?' 'A sacristan,' answered White ... "

If we shuffle the camera a century or so onward, we may catch the undergraduate Colin Stephenson in Mags describing "the venerable Fr Hack reading from the sermons of Dr. Pusey to one old woman who had started her church life as the Pew Opener .... He once said to me: 'Mary Corbett (the Pew Opener) is a very fortunate woman. She is as one born out of due time for she has heard every sermon that Dr. Pusey ever preached.' ... Mary Corbett was the 'pew-opener', her father being the parish clerk. She lived to tend the votive candle stands and answer Mass in Fr. Hack's days when she gave the church an authentic continental air for she was an exact replica of the old women one used to see doing the same thing in French churches. "

Do we have here a vera successio Apostolica

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