WITHIN THOSE HALLOWED WALLS

The Deanery is both a comfortable home and a working environment. 

It was built in 1721 on the site of the Cathedral Hospital which used to house pilgrims to the Holy Hankie of Saint Veronica. 

It is fitting that the present occupant is a member of the Order (OHHSV).

The Entrance Hall

The walls are adorned with oak panelling said to come from the “Limp Room” in the “Nine Bells” public house.  This was the room assigned to Peter the Limp following his successful rescue of the Mandylion from the hands of Cromwell’s soldiers.  The original room was torn down in 1720 when an extension was added to the rear of the property.  Tradition holds that the panelling was saved and installed in the Deanery when it was built a year later.

Between the windows is a semi-circular niche containing a marble bust of “Preacher Piecrust” whose evangelical preaching in the city restored the fortunes of the cathedral in the mid-18th century.  Over the east door is a statue of St. Ennodius and his student, Ganny Mead.  (see right)

The stone fireplace is partly copied from one of the stalls in the cloisters, and the old basket grate is said to have belonged to Bishop Crackling who was killed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, being trapped in strange lodgings.

Either side of the fireplace lie two cannon balls which are said to have been used at the siege of the city in 1644.  On the mantelpiece is the death mask of Bishop Jolyon Cornerhouse who, as the infamous “French Tulip” was active in France during the Revolution.  Below one of the windows stands a glass case containing the last suit of clothes worn by Bishop Passiondale who died at Ypres in 1918.

Round the cornice are painted scenes from the life of Saint Ennodius that date from 1752.

The Study

The writing desk and chair belonged to Dean Hangem, who held office from 1792-1804.  The desk was a copy made from one at Salisbury, Wiltshire, in the home of his close friend, John Strapp, with whom he often stayed on his journeys to and from Wenchoster by coach. In 1935 two secret drawers were found in this desk, one of which contained 57 letters, part of the correspondence between Dean Hangem and Lord Strapp dated between 1790 and 1804. The majority of Dean Hangem’s letters were posthumously printed in “Letters from a Dean”, edited by Lord Strapp, in 1828, but those discovered in the desk remain unpublished, and now reside in the Cathedral’s Chained Library.

The Library

This room (along with the Study) contains about 9000 volumes collected by Dean Carpenter during his incumbency between 1804 and 1829. Many of the bindings are stamped in gilt with a Greek letter phi and the words “Vista et Supplicare”, an approximate translation being “Watch and pray”, an injunction used by every subsequent Dean.

In the case in the centre of the room are shown a few of the most interesting books in the library, including a First edition of Gustav Tabernacle’s “Repentence or Death” published in Germany in 1688, a 1733 copy of the “Wenchoster Bible”, (see right), and the first issue of the “Lad’s Own” comic dated January 6th, 1951.

Two 15th carved boxwood chairs are said to have come from the Shaston Farthing Nunnery following its dissolution, and were presented to Dean Hangem by an admirer in 1797.

Among the items in the show-case in the bow window are:

  • Bishop Barrelrider’s cloak clasp of golden angels, which was retrieved from his body on the battlefield of Bosworth in 1485,

  • Dean Koppercettle’s (1631–1640) steel-tipped asperges brush,

  • A miniature of Bishop Fettler (1599–1604) at the age of four, painted at Wenchoster in 1541,  (A)

  • A miniature of Bishop Thrust (1688–1697) in the uniform of the Royal Wenchoster Light Dragoons.

  • A miniature of Lady Bosom (then Mlle Cloche), presented to Bishop Cornerhouse in1799.

  • A toadstone ring, set in silver. This stone, which belonged to Dean Ong’s mother, was supposed to be a sovereign charm against fairies, and in his memoirs Dean Ong (1881–1898) mentions that it was on this account constantly used by his mother to hang on a chain around his neck until the age of six. (B)

  • A pocket-book worked by Flora Buttery, sister of Dean Plastered (1876–1881).

  • A glass tumbler used by Bishop Jarrow (1595–1599) on the morning before he took his fateful last ride.  Scratched on the side is an unfinished couplet attributed to him; “An elderly Bishop of Spain, went out one day in the rain.  His mitre went limp, so he said to his pimp ….”

  • A lock of Dean Dobbling’s hair.  (C)

A

B

C

The Drawing Room

The walls of this room are hung with Chinese hand-painted paper given to Dean Ong by his cousin, Alastair Fitzpimple of Bristol Temple Meads.

On either side of the fireplace is a four-seater choir stall obtained from the Priory of St. Jacques et Giles, Nancy, France, in 1927 by Dean Splenetic (1926–1938).  Above hangs a portrait of Bishop Tosspotte who was executed by Henry VIII in 1530.  Bishop Tosspotte is represented in full length, seated by a ruined cloister with the city of Wenchoster at his feet and Percy, a whippet, looking wistfully into his master's face. The valley of Wormingdale forms the background.

On the east wall stands a Portuguese ebony roll-top desk and chairs to match, given to Dean Gulp (1905–1918) by Bishop Morrisson-Phipps.

In the north wall-case is the mediaeval reliquary presented to Dean Gulp by Lord Effing.  The reliquary contains bones found under the floor of the cathedral in 1344.  For a time many held them to be the remains of Saint Ennodius, but examination in 1791 proved them to be of a young female.

The Upper Landing

On the North wall hang portraits of former Deans, including pictures of all the Deanery cats since “Ginger”, the occupant of the Deanery in 1822.

At the East end stands a half life-size plaster statuette of Bishop Carpet who held the See of Wenchoster from 1819–1833.  This was the model for the large statue in freestone in Wenchoster’s Market Square known locally as “Mat”.

On the South wall hang pencil and charcoal drawings made by Dean Rush during his occupancy between the years (1947–1955)  Several show his driver, Peter Clutch, made in 1951, the year before his death in an accident with a coal-delivery van at the Broad Gusset crossroads. 

At the West end stands a “Cabinet of Curiosities”, the contents of which have yet to be catalogued.

The Dining Room

Dean Riptiding died in this room on the 21st September, 1832.  The table on which he was laid out was made for Dean Hangem out of old oak trees from the cathedral Close that were blown down in the Great Storm of 1800.  

The Chapel

The Chapel is original to the Deanery of 1721, and remains unchanged since the re-ordering carried out by Dean Swingem in 1849.  The chief object of interest is an oil painting of the Madonna of the Fireplace by Combustio 1483-1560.  Of note also is the carved and painted wood Altar Front, late Gothic in style, which is c.1480 (Flemish), and which depicts The Jesse Tree. The surround is 19th century.  In the glass case over the doorway is a 16th century Spanish Crucifix.  The wood and plaster statues came from Bavaria, and are mostly 18th century.

   

The present occupant, Dean Philpott-Thrashington, hopes that this brief tour has given you a flavour of the Deanery.  The house is open to visitors from Easter to Michaelmas, with Guided Tours every 2 hours from midday to 6.00 p.m. - Cost: £5 adult, £3 children and concessions.

 
   

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