Church anachronisms in Poldark

by
25 August 2017

BBC

Your questions

I wonder whether any readers who, like me, enjoy watching Poldark could enlighten me on certain matters. How were Caroline and Dwight able to get married without anyone knowing about it? Surely banns would have to have been read on three Sundays? The same ques­tion could be raised in relation to the marriage of Morwenna to Mr Whitworth, which seemed to take place incredibly quickly. In those pre-Oxford Movement days, would clergy have worn surplice and stole? Would there have been a cross and candles on the holy table? And would a clergyman have been re­­ferred to as “Reverend Whit­worth” rather than the Revd Mr Whit­worth?

 

I had a meeting on 14 August with the Location Manager for Poldark, since most of the church episodes in this series were shot at Holcombe Old Church, Somerset, although not Caroline and Dwight’s wedding. Needless to say, while I was fully consulted about what they could and could not do in the churchyard and church (although that is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust), I was not consulted about clerical matters.

I understand from the Location Manager that the important thing is the drama, not the accuracy, and that it is especially important that the vicar should be instantly recognised as a vicar (which he felt might not be the case if he were robed correctly for 1795). Church Times readers might like to know that for the christening, which was held in Holcombe Old Church, there was no font — this was removed to St Andrew’s Parish Church in Holcombe when that was built in 1885.

Poldark has a huge following. My Facebook posts for Holcombe (covering both churches) normally have between 30-60 hits. When I posted a picture of the Poldark christening, there were more than 2000 hits.

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They will be back again for the next series — and there will be a wedding in the church, which is splendid, since I have recently had it licensed for weddings.

(The Revd) Clarissa Cridland (Associate Priest, Coleford with Holcombe)

Coleford, Somerset

 

I am certain that the clergyman in Poldark would never have been referred to as “Reverend Whitworth”. When I was young, more than 50 years ago, this form of address would never have been used. It is regrettable that American influence, aided and abetted by the media, including the BBC, have now made this usage all too common. There have been exceptions: Dad’s Army, where the vicar is always called Mr Farthing (except by the verger), and the ITV programme Grantchester.

(The Revd) Peter Elliott

Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees

 

Your questions

 

An ordinand organised a fancy-dress party for 15 invited guests. They included two “bishops”, a “nun”, a “pope”, “President Trump”, a “priest”, and a “fairy”. It was great fun, and the “begging bowl” raised more than £300 for starving children. But was it acceptable to use real mass vestments for this?

R. H.

 

I recently chanced upon SPCK’s 1957 The Prayer Book Pattern: A consideration, by Caroline Adams, save that the dust jacket admits: “Caroline Adams is a pseudonym of a Solitary of the Church in Wales.” Who was she, and why did she write anonymously? What was the nature of a Solitary in the Church in Wales at that time, and were there many who could have written the book?

A. B.

 

Have there been any serious studies done of the relationship between Christian religious/spiritual experience and the UFO phenomenon? I am aware of Carl Jung’s work on the subject, and wondered whether there was more.

M. B.

 

Why do so many able-bodied people now adopt what is commonly called the “Protestant crouch” or “Methodist bend” during prayer in church, instead of kneeling?

G. S.

 

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.

questions@churchtimes.co.uk

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