December 18th, 2019

Gearys And Bartholomews

West Peckham is very pretty. The church is Saxon. This picture, by the way, wasn't taken yesterday; it was taken in October before the rains set in....

Occupying the north east corner of the church- filling what was once a chantry chapel- is the 17th century Geary pew. It contains the best seats in the house. It's raised above floor level, has an ornate screen with a doorway in it and a wooden roof decorated with hatchments.

I'm not claiming its unique but I've never come across anything quite like it anywhere else. I imagine the Gearys sitting up here in comparative comfort, removed from the gaze of the vulgar, with their feet in foot warmers and their hands in muffs, drinking hot chocolate and exchanging sotto voce comments on the vicar's sermon. (They probably did nothing of the sort and were properly stiff and respectful.) Their space is shared by Mr and Mrs Bartholomew (relatives of some kind) whom the Gearys kept- like dangerous or unruly pets- behind stout iron railings. The Gearys have gone but the Bartholomews endure.

18th century monuments can be very silly (the wigs don't help) but this one I find rather moving. The Bartholomews- Leonard and Elizabeth- recline at ease- on either side of their pet skull. She has had a happy thought and points with a (broken) finger towards heaven. He listens with respect.

The Bartholomew tomb is unsigned. It has been suggested that it's the work of Richard Crutcher (1660-1725)- a prominent figure in the Masons Company- who only ever signed one monument but must have been responsible for others.

Round of applause for the modest Mr Crutcher.....