12 April 2022

An address in Stony Stratford that
might suit the Pied Piper of Hamelin

The Ratcatcher’s Cottage is beside the Tower of Saint Mary Magdalen, off the High Street in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

The Ratcatcher’s Cottage, behind the Tower of Saint Mary Magdalen, is off the High Street in Stony Stratford.

At first, this may not sound like a desirable address in Stony Stratford. On the other hand, it may sound like a romantic, fairy tale address, evocative of the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

The house stands on land that once belonged to the Malletts, once Stony Stratford’s manor house and the home of the Edy family.

The Malletts was once a substantial mediaeval hall, and in the second half of the 15th century it belonged to John Edy, at one time steward of the Longueville estates, and who founded a guild in 1481.

The first reference to the Malletts appears in Edy’s will dated 20 September 1487 at the Malletts, when he asked to be buried in the churchyard of Saint Mary Magdalene, in Stony Stratford.

John Edy’s house was on the edge of Saint Mary Magdalene churchyard, near at the end of Vicarage Road today. Thomas Piggott of Beachampton married Edy’s daughter Isabel and inherited the Mallets estate. Piggott’s coat of arms was based on three mallets. Piggott was a prosperous 15th century lawyer.

A map of Stony Stratford ca 1680 shows the Malletts and the fields which by then had become attached to the house, a kind of sub-manor.

The stewards of Wolverton Manor continued to live there until Dr John Radcliffe took possession in 1712. John Battison, the steward at that time, continued working for the new owner. He was living at Quinton and there is no suggestion that any of Radcliffe’s estate managers lived there.

The house and the land were bought by William Golby in the 19th century. He pulled down the mansion in 1830 but retained a barn. This barn was renovated in 1865, a second storey was added, and it was converted into a house known as ‘The Ring,’ taking its name from the adjacent land where horses were broken in.

The Ratcatcher’s Cottage has an early 20th century brick front, but house dates from the late 17th century or early 18th century. Inside, the house has a large inglenook fireplace.

The Ratcatcher’s Cottage received its name from a resident of the house who is said to have been a successful rat catcher in Stony Stratford in the early 20th century.

Praying at the Stations of the Cross in
Lent 2022: 12 April 2022 (Station 10)

Jesus is stripped of his garments … Station 10 in the Stations of the Cross in the Church of the Annunciation, Clonard, Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

We are now in Holy Week, the last and closing week of Lent. Tuesday in Holy Week is known in many parts of the Church as ‘Temple Tuesday’ and the prayer in the Parish of Stony Stratford with Calverton today (12 April 2022) is that ‘We may remain faithful to Christ.’

But, even before today begins, I am taking some time early this morning (12 April 2022) for prayer, reflection and reading.

During Lent this year, in this Prayer Diary on my blog each morning, I have been reflecting on the Psalms each morning. But during these two weeks of Passiontide, Passion Week and Holy Week, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, Short reflections on the Stations of the Cross, illustrated by images in the Church of the Annunciation, Clonard, Wexford, and the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the lectionary adapted in the Church of Ireland;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Station 10, Jesus is stripped of his garments:

In an unusual arrangement, the Stations of the Cross in the church in Clonard are set in the curved outer wall of the church in 14 windows designed by Gillian Deeny of Wicklow. In her windows, she emphasises the role of women in the Passion story.

Her windows were made in association with Abbey Glass, where she worked with the cut-out shapes of coloured glass, the pigment being a mixture of lead oxide, ground glass and colour. Each window is signed by the artist.

The Stations of the Cross on the north and south walls of the nave in Stoney Stratford were donated in memory of John Dunstan (1924-1988).

The Tenth Station in the Stations of the Cross has a traditional description such as ‘Jesus is stripped of his garments.’

In this Station of the Cross in Wexford, the Cross is not to be seen. One of the two men stripping Christ of his clothes seems to be embarrassed as he places his left hand on Christ’s right shoulder, almost in a gesture of doomed solidarity.

In Station 10 in Stony Stratford, one solitary soldier seems to reluctantly strip Christ with one hand, while Christ has hands open, in a gesture of forgiveness, perhaps, or open to his looming death.

Did these two or three exchange any conversation, any words, in the course of this encounter?

Did they realise how each other was exposed and vulnerable in this moment?

Was there a mutual understanding of the embarrassment each one is going through?

How often do we seek to cover ourselves in ways that cloak and disguise our embarrassment and our feelings of vulnerability?

Yet, as Saint Paul reminds us, ‘we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it’ (I Timothy 6: 7).

Jesus is stripped of his garments … Station 10 in the Stations of the Cross in the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

John 12: 20-36 (NRSVA):

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

27 ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ 30 Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’ 35 Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’

After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Light in the Darkness.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday by the Revd Anthony Gyu-Yong Shim of the Diocese of Daejeon in the Anglican Church of Korea. The prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (12 April 2022, George Augustus Selwyn), invites us to pray:

Today we give thanks for the life of George Augustus Selwyn, the first Anglican Bishop of New Zealand, and pray for the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The grave of Bishop George Augustus Selwyn in Lichfield Cathedral … he is commemorated in the Church Calendar on 12 April (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org