Stories on Whalls: St. Mary’s Church, Marston, Lincolnshire


The church has an Early English tower. The Chancel was restored by Charles Kirk in the 1880s. The church is a Grade I listed building. Whall’s two- light window in the South Aisle West celebrates the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s rule. The left hand light shows a mother with two children and the right hand light shows a child sitting on Christ’s lap. Inscription in left hand light reads “Suffer the little children to come unto me” and that in the right hand light reads “For such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” At the foot of the left hand light is a crown and the date 1837, and at the foot of the right hand light is V.R.I. and the date 1897. (List of works by Christopher Whall)

Many moons ago when I was rethinking my Christian roots, I was guided to read a new passage from a prayer-book every time I entered a church. I was a big fan of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction at the time and so one day went into the local church to see if I could find the quote which Samuel L Jackson’s character, Jules, claims was from Ezekiel 25:17:

“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”

I found out soon after that in actual fact, Ezekiel 25:17 doesn’t say this at all. Tarantino had liberally exposed Ezekiel to the Genesis story of Cain and Abel which he then finished it off with an infusion of the spirit of Psalm 23. It was quite a marriage of different texts used to justify vengeance and acts of great violence throughout the film.

Whilst I was disappointed back then to find the text was a figment of a screen writer’s and not a scripture writer’s imagination, I was reminded of Tarantino’s stories a few days after Brexit’s Article 50 trigger had been pulled,  and when I visited  St Mary’s Church in Marston to view the Christopher Whall window which commemorated the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee was a lively affair full of exhortations of national pride and future empire building. Chamberlain suggested the Diamond Jubilee should be seen as a “Festival of the British Empire” and communities across the country decorated streets with arches, flags and bunting and the usual Jubilee paraphernalia. Children received Jubilee mugs; elderly women were given tea and elderly men were given tobacco. Clearly they’d not heard of Health and Safety in those days. In Marston, the Christopher Whall window was installed in the west window in the south aisle to commemorate the event.

“The streets, the windows, the roofs of the houses, were one mass of beaming faces, and the cheers never ceased,” Queen Vic wrote in her journal the day after her anniversary (presumably about the street parties, not about the installation of the window). Later that night Victoria sat next to Archduke Franz Ferdinand at a state banquet in Buckingham Palace.   His subsequent assassination in 1914 led, as we know, to the start of World War I.

Perhaps had they had the benefit of a Tarantino mixed up biblical script we wouldn’t be sat where we are today. He could have added a recipe to the Barkston Village Recipe Book which instead of calling for vengeance, could have made a powerful call to action for wisdom in times of nationalistic fervour and difficult international relations. He might have fused elements of Chapter IX of the Wisdom of Solomon – the bible reading on the lectern from last week’s service or the preparation for next week’s:

God of my ancestors, merciful Lord, by your word you created everything. By your Wisdom you made us humans to rule all creation, to govern the world with holiness and righteousness, to administer justice with integrity. Give me the Wisdom that sits beside your throne…

with something from Matthew from the New Testament:

I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven…

Unfortunately, as far as I know, Tarantino hasn’t yet visited Marston, but when he does, I’m sure he’ll be given a warm welcome, especially if he can shed some guiding light on the fictions we’re all facing in these Brexit fuelled, anxious times.

Tips for Business Start Ups: every question asks a story.

You’re starting up a new business and as much as you’d like to be able to start selling straight away and drawing down the king of all business start up requisites – cash – the reality is that cash isn’t going to start flowing out of that tap for some months to come.  Not only do you need some liquidity in your system (it’s Christmas after all and there’s all those office parties to go to and dance around like you’re the next David Brent from The Office), but you’ve spotted an ideal scheme which is offering countless thousands of pounds of grant to enhance your business growth prospects.  The deadline is just a week away – so what do you do?  You give it your best shot, even though you may never have filled in this kind of application form before.

Before long, you’ll find yourself sweating over the criteria, the funding guidelines and the translation of what the funder wants, what you want and whether or not the two sets of desires are mutually compatible.  If they’re not compatible, then now is the time to consign the application to the WPB and get out to your Christmas networking activities, safe in the knowledge you haven’t just wasted a precious week of your business time on something that was going nowhere quickly.

However, if you sense that that money in the funding pot has your name written all over it, then the first thing you’ll be faced with is the application questions.

The ones which ask you to identify yourself should be pretty straightforward if you’ve got this far in life.  Name, address, email, phone number – if you don’t know these by now (especially your name) then it’s time to pack up the business idea immediately and join your colleagues on the networking dance floor (all assuming you know who they are of course).

The questions which follow tend to be more open ended and ask you to do some original thinking.  Not original copy and pasting from Wikipedia, previous applications or last week’s shopping list, but some honest to goodness new thinking straight out of your brain which will need to be expressed in a written form.  Yes, I know it’s difficult, and yes, I know it discriminates against people who would prefer to express their application in the form of expressive dance, but the sad fact is that these questions need answers and they need them to be communicated in a way that the person reading the form will be able to understand.  So, writing it is, writing it has to be and preferably in a language that the form is written in.

Once you’re into form filling mode and are getting the hang of having to answer questions, a useful approach is to use the questions to tell the story you want to tell about your business or project.  Not an act of fiction, or  a work or art necessarily, but an account  which describes your intention with clarity, purpose and logic.  Sometimes people use bullet points to tell their story and this is understandable if you working to a word limit.  But have you ever read a compelling short story made out of bullet points?  I suspect not and the same principle holds for writing application forms for cash.  A good story will seduce, fascinate and wow your readers.  Bullet points merely make readers they’re being fired at.

So, when faced with those questions, face up to them, figure out the story they want to hear and make sure you tell it in a form which most people could follow.  You don’t have to be Quentin Tarantino when it comes to the stories needed to help the growth of your business: although it might help of course if you want to sell  a slate of post modern classic films (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) and your name happens to be Quentin Tarantino.

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