Welcome to Bennett's World: a collection of articles and references covering a wide variety of topics in which I am involved. I am a very political person but I have no allegiance to any political party. Follow me on twitter @colinhove

Friday, April 27, 2012

Visit to Westminster Abbey

I'm catching up on posts that I should have made previously. Here is an article I wrote for Talking Sense concerning the HSI visit to Westminster Abbey on 10 September 2011. I was then the Chairman of HSI.


Saturday 10 September 2011 saw another successful social visit by Hearing and Sight Impaired (HSI) branch of Sense. We met at Westminster underground station, and crocodiled our way to Westminster Abbey. We were divided into 2 groups, led by guides Zillah and David, who were aware of our sensory problems. The tour incorporated a “touch tour”, which meant that we were encouraged to touch things, e.g. the effigies on the tombs. We did that with relish and thereby discovered a mystery. Christian orthodoxy has it that at death one’s sole is liberated and departs to heaven or the other place according to Divine discrimination. However, on feeling the feet of the departed knights and their ladies, we discovered that their soles were still there. Further, we discovered that these ancient people were not very ticklish, although we did notice a smirk or two on their faces.

During the tour, we stopped to hear a cleric address us in a prayer. She spoke clearly and into a microphone, but alas, there was no induction loop. We took this up later with the Dean.

We visited the normal spots such as Poets’ Corner, and on the way out, we passed the tomb of The Unknown Worrier. We heard the story of this tomb. By 1921, all the fighting services from WWI had been commemorated, but the vast army of Worriers who did their bit at home had not been recognised. It was decided to erect the tomb of The Unknown Worrier. On the night before the opening ceremony, no worriers had volunteered to fill the tomb. Bert Potter, a prominent Usher stonemason, realised that he had misheard T for C, and chiselled comb instead of tomb. He hurried back, only to trip over the Memorial and broke his neck.

The church warden, with admirable lateral thinking, worked all night, putting the inert Bert in the tomb and building a plinth on which was placed Bert’s Woolworth’s comb, which had fallen from his pocket. In the 1930s, that comb was replaced by the Fabergé one we know so well today, and ‘comb’ was replaced by ‘tomb’.

All that happened exactly 90 years ago, so our group moved to the Barley Mow, where we toasted Bert with our usual lemonade.

If you go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/hova/sets/72157627640431441, you will see some photos of the day.