Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Always be kind to your estate workers

St David's Cathedral in the far flung corner of west Pembrokeshire, used to be a Catholic church.

No longer.

But, among the remnants of the sarcophagi desecrated by Henry VIII's men, there have sprung up some relatively new Protestant counterparts.

The most notable of these is to be found in the south east end (top right hand) corner of the cathedral.

Here is the chapel of St Edward the Confessor, dedicated to the memory of the Countess of Maidstone, daughter of one Bishop Jenkinson who died in the early 20th century.

She was, according to the present Bishop, J.Wyn-Evans, something of a harridan.

So much so that she led her estate workers a merry dance.

She was not pleasant. She was positively spiteful.

And the workers, being Welsh, took it in their stride but logged her nastiness at the back of their minds.

When the time came for the Countess to shuffle off her Protestant mortal coil, she was, according to the custom of the day, (and a bit of folding money) allocated the tiny chapel of St Edward to rest her mortal remains.

It was decked out in a white marble flecked with, how can I phrase this so as not to offend any maiden aunts looking in? - a sort of doggy brown.

There, does that conjure up the right image?

It is not to my taste, much as I like dogs.

It does not do to stand too near to it; it's rather like finding oneself standing rather too close to a Van Gogh (or, 'Van Go' as they say in the Colonies). Cough, cough (or, should that be 'co,co')? One feels a little bilious. A bit 'Uncle' as they would say in the East End of London.

So, after the dear woman's death, her estate workers, the stone masons among them, were commissioned to chisel out her effigy in brown flecked marble, for the sarcophagus. 
And, as was customary, the image of the dog belonging to the dead person was also carved at their feet.

 No one, it should be noted, ever had an effigy of a cat reproduced at their feet.
Let's leave it there.

So, the good old solid and patient Welsh masons went to their task stolidly and carved, out of the aforesaid, dog brown flecked marble, an image of their dear mistress, but....and it's a massive great the place of her dog's visage, they carved her face.

Bow, wow!

Revenge is a dish best eaten cold.

And there it remains to this day.


  1. Well well well! I never knew that! Shall have a good look next time I visit. I do love that scene you put up. It always sends a shiver of delight as it represents so much to me. Gran and Gramps and various Aunts and Uncles living within the Old Palace and we could walk in and out at will without having to pay, and to go into areas the public were not allowed. Such a privilege! Personally, as children, we were not particularly interested in 'Protestant' topics and, it was only the Palace that mattered as far as we were concerned not the Cathedral.

  2. Oh well-treat your workers badly Monday to Saturday
    be a saint at the Common Prayer service Sunday
    Back to being a lady dog on Monday