Asexual Myths & Tales

Monday, 15 July 2019

Halifax Discoveries Part 2

Last week, I wrote about a historical discovery I made after a visit to Halifax Minster, final resting place of Anne Lister.

I mentioned that 
there was a lot of radical, grassroots religion going on in the West Riding in the 18th century, and I ended up going down quite a rabbit hole of research.
One of the places that research led me was to this monograph about the man I believe one of my brothers was named after:

He is sometimes called “The Wesley of the Baptists”, and indeed knew the Wesleys and Whitfield, but ultimately formed his own New Connection of Baptist and Independent Methodist congregations, which eventually became the Baptist Union of Great Britain. It was his inspiring preaching tours that led to the creation of a congregation at Queensbury (then named Queenshead after its local pub, popular on the pack horse route between Bradford and Halifax. This in turned spawned my own spiritual home at Clayton Baptist, now under a decade from celebrating its bicentenary.

Dan Taylor was a Calderdale man - from  Northowram - and began his spiritual life at Halifax Minster (aka Halifax Parish Church). Revd George Legh was his vicar, and in fact had Wesley to preach at the church. Taylor became involved in his local Methodist Society (Methodists were a society to begin with rather than a distinct denomination) and later abandoned the Anglican Church completely, throwing himself into the Evangelical Revival happening in the West Riding at the time.

This was a real grassroots religious movement among ordinary working people. (Taylor was a miner with no formal education). Preachers toured the countryside on horseback, preaching in the open air to crowds too big to be contained by a church. One key venue was the churchyard at Haworth, where the Brontë sisters would later live. (Although they and their father were no evangelicals!) They sang hymns to popular tunes that people knew. The sermons were in clear and simple language that everyone could understand. Those who wished to convert joined local societies and small groups, where they could learn together. It was very much part of the changing aspect of Britain in the Enlightenment era, changes that would lead to working class politics, self-improvement and the modern world.

“Evangelical” has become something of a dirty word these days. But what it meant in the 18th century was a religion that relied on the Bible for guidance rather than clerical authority (or tyranny, as some saw it), a belief that you really could be assured of eternal salvation, and that spreading this good news (evangel) was the job of all believers. It was religion for the common man.

Like Hoadley (see last week's blog), Dan Taylor also spoke to Royalty. On 11th June 1800, he addressed George III as spokesman for the General Body of Protestant Dissenting Ministers. Probably to appeal for an end to discrimination against dissenters from the state church, which did in fact happen. (Repeal of Corporation and Test Acts, 1828). All this from a miner from Calderdale. The West Riding certainly has produced some remarkable people!

Monday, 8 July 2019

Halifax Discoveries Part 1

Following on from last week’s literary adventure, this weekend I went to a marvellous Anne Lister event at the marvellous Halifax Minster. The event featured, Sally Wainwright who wrote the Gentleman Jack script, Anne Choma who wrote the tie-in book, and O’Hooley & Tidow who sang the Gentleman Jack song.

This is the church where Anne Lister was baptised, worshipped, and was buried. It’s a very old church, which started as a monastic mission. (Hence the title Minster).

As you can see from the picture above, by complete fluke (or Providence) I was sitting next to Anne Lister herself! Or rather, what is left of her memorial. (She is buried somewhere near the font). The memorial unfortunately got broken up for various reasons, so the Minster is hoping to raise money to create a new one. Something tells me they won’t be short of donors!

While I was in the queue for the loo (lol!) I read a plaque on the wall which I found very interesting.

Near this Place
in the same Vault, are deposited the remains of the Revd George Legh,
and his 2 beloved wives FRANCIS & ELIZABETH, to whose joint
Memory this monument is erected; he was the Vicar of this Parish of Halifax
above forty four years: during which Time he interested himself with
laudable Zeal in the cause of religious Liberty & Sincerity, being the
last Survivor of those worthy Men who distinguishd themselves by
their opposition to Ecclesiastical Tyranny. He defended the Rights of
Mankind, in that memorable Hoadlian Controversy.
The Bible he considerd as the only standard of Faith & practice, to the
poor & distressd & Public Charitys, he was a generous Benefactor, by his
Will orderd Bibles to be given for the benefit of the poor,
he did honor to his Profession as a Clergyman & christian,
esteemd when liveing, in death lamented,
he died composd on the 6th of Decembr, 1775,
in the 82d year of his age;
his wife FRANCIS died Decembr 9th, 1749,
ELIZABETH Febry 8th 1765

What an interesting sounding man! And secondly - what the heck is a Hoadlian Controversy?!

Turns out that in 1717, Bishop Benjamin Hoadley preached a sermon to George I, saying that since Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), there is no justification for the Church wielding worldly power and lording it over people, owning lands, raising taxes etc. This released the 18th century equivalent of a Twitter storm, with hundreds of pamphlets being written to argue both sides. 

I think we can safely conclude that Rev George Legh was on the side of Hoadley in this argument, and a general good egg. Actually, there was a lot of radical, grassroots religion going on in the West Riding in the 18th century, and I ended up going down quite a rabbit hole of research. But more of that another time! In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of me and Mick in our Jack the Lass T-shirts, which we bought on the night.

Monday, 1 July 2019

A Literary Weekend

It was a beautiful sunny day in Bradford on Saturday for Bradford Lit Fest 2019. And what a lovely, happy day it was for me. I started off by going to a panel on Mapping Fantasy Worlds. Who doesn’t love a fantasy map? Or indeed any map? I was pretty surprised, though, by the answer to my question: did any of the panel have imaginary worlds as a child? None! Adrian Tchaikovsky said he got into fantasy worlds through role playing games. Interesting, because I’m currently listening to the audio book of Ready Player One (narrated by Will Wheaton aka Wesley Crusher). Personally, I’ve never been that interested in RPG. I always preferred to create my own worlds. But there you go!

I then moved onto The History of Snow White, with one of my favourite BookTubers, Jen Campbell. Again, what could I not love about that? The nicest thing was that, when I asked her to sign my copy of The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night, she remembered my name! What a lovely person!

After lunch (Jamaican street food) I met up with my husband, who had just been to The Lost Art of Scripture. He said he’d bought the book so he wouldn’t have to bother telling me about it! But there were a couple of other friends there, so we discussed it for a bit with them, anyway.

And finally for Saturday, I joined my daughter for Chris Riddell’s 10 Books That Changed My Life. Again, absolutely lovely. He was drawing all the way through. And was so encouraging to my daughter about her illustration career.

The next day, on Sunday afternoon, we visited Shibden Hall. The Hall and Park have been special to me all my life, but of course tourism has sky-rocketed in the past few week due to the "Gentleman Jack effect". I noticed quite a few Anne-focused changes in the presentation - and even in some of the decor! Anne's old room is now decked out just like in the TV series (rather than Edwardian Art Nouveau). But much is the same as ever, including my favourite goat-legged table and chair.

Unbeknown to me, the Estate Worker's Cottage (part of the attached folk museum) was used as a setting in the film Peterloo, which I was going to see that very evening as part of Bradford Lit Fest. Oh, the serendipity! Really enjoyed the film. I remember learning about Peterloo in history with Miss Robson (where are you now, Miss?) but this film brought the time alive so vividly, it was like being there. And it was gratifying to know that Rory Kinear was standing exactly where I had stood just a few hours previously.

And then, of course, I had to round off the day with the latest instalment of Gentleman Jack, testament to that great Shibden diarist. If you haven't seen episode 7, I won't give spoilers. Except for one word. Thermometer!!

What a great, literary weekend!