It seems that Dimitri's promotional efforts have made an unwelcome impact in some circles. I had a fairly abrupt phone call from Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams early in the week.
The Rev. Parrish in turn had received a strongly worded missive from Bishop Ian Flagrante-Delicto of the Farkham, Upham, Rogerham and Upper Self Diocese. In the letter, the bishop had expressed his horror that local Scouts were parading around in teeshirts proclaiming that Old Bishops Fancy Scouts, feeling that it was a direct attack on his own good name.
Bishop F-G went on to say that anyone with any knowledge of local history should know that the case never went to court and that he was fully exonerated at the time, which should be an end to the matter. Any allegations of impropriety on his behalf would be treated as the most serious libel, with appropriate action taken against the purpetrators.
I couldn't answer on the phone, so wrote to the Rev. Parrish in the following manner.
"I can assure you Ivor that there is no intention to imply any wrong-doing on the part of anyone living or dead. Double entendre has everything to do with the reader and nothing to do with the writer. The Old Bishops Fancy Scouts are Scouts from Old Bishops Fancy and it is as simple as that. What would you have me do? Rename them to appease an ageing bishop? Let me explain how the name came about."
The following excerpt is from "The Annals of Farkhamshire" written by the eminent historian, Professor Handel Morgan, Professor Emeritus of History at Farkam University (FU):
How Old Bishops Fancy got its name.
Edward (Longshanks) the 1st of England gifted a parcel of land to his chancellor, Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells. This was in recognition of his help through the establishment of the first true Parliament and among other things, English Common Law.
With the recent subjugation of Wales through the defeat of Llewellyn Ap Gruffyd and the execution of his brother David, Edward felt he had the power to give parcels of Welsh land to his supporters. With the importance of wool in the national economy at the time, he also wanted to make sure of his power base there by placing those loyal to him in positions of power and authority.
It was thus that an area of one Knight's Fee (five hides, each of 8 bovates) of land between Monmouthshire and Brecknockshire was passed to Burnell, to name as he pleased and to benefit from all the goods, chattels, livestock and peasantry therein in perpetuity. Burnell was so taken with the land that he named it "Bishops Fancy". This is listed in the document known as the Hundred Rolls, outlining Royal Rights & Possessions. Shortly afterwards in 1275, with the help of Burnell, Edward decreed the Statute of Montain. This effectively gave the Crown a monopoly over gifts of land to the Church by requiring that any such gift (often made to avoid death duties) could only be made by grant of a Royal Licence.
The area of Bishops Fancy prospered and grew, largely thanks to the fertile nature of the land and the value of wool produced there, for over 250 years, with succeeding Bishops of Bath and Wells at the helm. However, over the five year period in which he dissolved the monasteries, Henry VIII appropriated all lands and income controlled by the Catholic Church, including Bishops Fancy.
Henry could also see the value of having allies in the right places. He also valued the tax income from the wool in that area and the overall contribution to the Crown from the Bishops Fancy Estate. In keeping with the tradition, William Barlow, first Anglican Bishop of Bath and Wells was gifted Bishops Fancy on his appointment in 1548. He fled the Abbey on the accession of Queen Mry 1st in 1553, but managed to keep title to the land. Unlike former keepers, who were celibate Catholic Bishops, Barlow had children, so the estate was bequeathed. In his absence, Barlow was succeeded by a Catholic at the Abbey of Wells, while Mary was on the throne. Gilbert Bourne was Bishop until his imprisonment in the tower of London By Elizabeth 1st in 1559. He died there ten years later and was one of eleven Catholic Bishops to die in English prisons.
Fearing an attempt by the Catholics to regain title to the Bishops Fancy estates, by now a small, thriving town, William Barlow's son, Lukout, renamed the area "Old Bishops Fancy". It has kept the name to this day and is now home to some 3,000 souls engaged in agriculture and weaving specialist tweed, which is said to owe many of its qualities to the tradition of mill workers urinating on the wool prior to spinning. There is a primary school and a church, with a healthy tourist industry, drawing people from all over the world to enjoy the spectacular scenery, immerse themselves in the history and to make a pilgrimage to the Spring of St Lugubrious, which still emits crystal clear water, said to have spectacular healing powers.
I await a reply.
See more news items in our blog.