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Royal supporters at the coronation

11 October 2019

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below.


The then Bishops of Durham and Bath & Wells stood either side of the Queen at her Coronation. What is the procedure for determining which two bishops are chosen?

Your answer: The procedure for determining which bishops support the monarch is a simple one: are they the Bishops of Durham and Bath & Wells?

Those bishops supported Edgar in 973 at his coronation. While that may not always have been so, Edgar’s became a model for other coronations, and it seems to have been established practice by Plantagenet times for those two bishops to be the supporters.

(Dr) N. P. Hudd
Tenterden, Kent


Can any of your readers identify the author and title of a poem that has the refrain “A female figure with a child”? 

Your answer: The questioner is thinking of Hilaire Belloc’s “Ballade of Illegal Ornaments: For Christmas and the Opening Year of 1935”, published late in 1934. It was apparently inspired by a dispute, in 1929, between Ernest Barnes, Bishop of Birmingham, and one of his parish clergy (disguised in the poem under the name Dr Leigh), who was ordered by the bishop to remove from his church “all illegal ornaments . . . and especially a Female Figure with a Child”.

(Dr) Eleanor Relle (Reader)
Maidstone, Kent


Is it lawful for a Church of England priest to celebrate the eucharist using the Roman Catholic or Methodist rite? [Answers, 27 September] 

Your answer: In response to Steve Vince, I read of a shared local ecumenical project, in a C of E/RC church building, where on occasion there was a C of E mass at which RCs received the RC Reserved Sacrament or an RC mass at which C of E members received from the C of E Reserved Sacrament, but both traditions always used the Roman rite. As we have an ARCIC agreement on eucharistic doctrine, this seems very reasonable.

(The Revd) Geoffrey Squire SSC
Goodleigh, Barnstaple, Devon


“. . . I am aware that, according to Moore and Reid in The Making of the King James Bible, “There is one reason why the myth of Shakespeare being called in as a consultant is absurd . . .” Could any readers shed any more light?

Your answer: The idea that Shakespeare was involved with the 1611 Bible was put into a short story by Rudyard Kipling in 1934, “Proofs of Holy Writ” (I have the Tragara Press edition, Edinburgh, 1981, with an introduction by Philip Mason). It deals with a portion of Isaiah 60 rather than a psalm, but shows that one of the learned translators might well have valued the help of a wordsmith, even if only unofficially. Why spoil a good story with too much fact?

Cathy Thornton


Your question: On what occasions must a certificate of baptism be produced? A. M.


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Tue 16 Aug @ 09:51
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