Archive for the ‘George Abbot’ Category

Censorship of A Brief Description of the Whole World

December 2, 2011
A Brief Description of the Whole World

A Brief Description of the Whole World

Former Archbishop of Canterbury censored as his views may offend Jews and Muslims.

George Abbot (1562-1633), born in Guildford, Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the translators of the King James Bible, was a prolific writer.

One of his works A Brief Description of the Whole World, the Master of Abbot’s Hospital in Guildford has recently edited. It is published by Guildford-based Goldenford, 400 years after it was first published.

On a recent tour of Abbot’s Hospital I almost picked up a copy but glad now I did not. I learnt today that it had been heavily censored by the publshers, anything that they did not like they censored.

Two examples

– Muhammad was born of a whore
– Jews are Christ-killers

The first because they thought they might receive a fatwa, the second because the publishers are Jews and they saw the comment as anti-Semitic.

When I flipped through A Brief Description of the Whole World I saw nothing to indicate it had been censored.

You do not censor a historical document!

No doubt some of the history was not correct, nor the geography, nor the natural history. Do you censor that too? Do you redraw the maps? Of course not.

What you do, is explain the context, provide footnotes. If you are not prepared to do the academic legwork, then do not publish!

When Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade he called Muslims an accursed race. He said a race absolutely alien to God has invaded the land of Christians. Knights sought salvation through slaughter. When they entered the Holy Church in the newly liberated Jerusalem they entered dripping with blood of slaughtered Muslims to seek thanks from God.

Christianity A History: The Crusades

Although it is not something I have encountered personally, until at least the 1950s Jews were called Christ-killers. Maybe in some quarters they still are. It was not until 1965 that the Vatican issued a statement that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus. But this was due to a distorted reading of the Gospels, the letters of St Paul, reading them outside of their historical context.

To heaven with Scribes and Pharisees

This taking out of context, then condemning what you do not like or showing prejudice, is exactly what Goldenford are doing with a historical document, but worse, not only are they failing to understand the historical context they are then compounding their ignorance by applying the censor’s pen. Ignorance piled on ignorance. Not that this is new, it has happened through the ages.

Where do we end? Do we edit out the sexual bits in Shakespeare, do we cover up Greek Statues? Do we remove all the acts of atrocity and genocide from the Torah and Old Testament?

There are issues when dealing with historical documents. Do we, for example, render The Canterbury Tales as is, or do we try to render in modern English, both approaches have pitfalls, but what we do not do is censor because it may offend our or others sensibilities as that is to render the document worthless.

To do justice to what George Abbot has written, to leave a legacy for others to read, we publish in full, we then explain the historical context, the views of the time, only then do we understand, but what we do not do is censor what we do not like as that is to distort history, to bastardise what has been written, historical vandalism.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, history was continually being rewritten: He who controls the present controls the past, he who controls the past controls the future.

Censorship of A Brief Description of the Whole World is to be discussed at a meeting at Abbot’s Hospital, possibly sometime March 2012.

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Choral evensong Surrey Cantata at Holy Trinity

October 3, 2011

St Therese’s day mass: priest calls Jesus “Master of Vineyard” (Maitre de la Vigne). Great definition, never heard that before. — Paulo Coelho

Choral evensong at Holy Trinity Church in Guildford sung by Surrey Cantata, directed by Prof Sebastian Forbes.

Music by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656), William Byrd (1540-1623). The music was chosen to be that of the period 400 years ago.

Listening to the music I wondered what did the people of the time make of it and music by J S Bach, Vivaldi. Most would have been illiterate, their only source of information the sermons, the lessons and the stained glass windows.

Bibles, such as King James and earlier versions, were just becoming available.

A very interesting sermon by the Rector, Canon Robert Cotton.

He studied maths and philosophy at Merton College, Oxford. The college chapel has 13th century stained glass windows and a monument to one of the translators of the King James Bible, but his atributes are those of a scientist, not as translator and contributor to King James Bible.

This is a curious fact of all the monuments to those who contributed to the King James Bible, with one notable exception, a humble parish priest whose monument pays tribute to his ability as a linguist.

Archbishop George Abbot, one of the contributors to the King James Bible is entombed within Holy Trinity.

Choral evensong with Surrey Cantata was part of a day of celebrations of the four hundreth anniversary of the King James Bible.

The afternoon started with a talk by Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford University on medieval translations of the Bible before King James.

Medieval translations of the Bible before King James
Beautiful sung evensong

George Abbot

July 20, 2011
George Abbot

George Abbot

George Abbot (1562-1633), Archbishop of Canterbury, founder of Abbot’s Hospital (an almshouse), translator of the King James Bible.

Little has been written of George Abbot: three books, a PhD theses and an article in a learned journal. He wrote more, than has been written about him.

Tudor Guildford c 1617 consisted of a High Street, houses lining the High Street, three churches and a medieval bridge crossing the river. [see George Abbot’s Guildford]

Summer of 1652 (or so the myth goes), Alice (who was carrying George) had a longing for pike. She also had a dream that if she ate pike her son would grow to become a great man.

The Abbot’s lived in a house by the river (a picture of which can be found in Abbot’s Hospital) adjacent to the medieval bridge.

The morning following her dream, Alice cast her pail into the River Wey to draw water. Into her pail lept a pike.

On hearing of the tale, people offered to be sponsors of the child at the baptismal which took place at St Nicolas Church. His God parents sponsored him through school and university.

George attended the Royal Grammar School at the top of the High Street, then Oxford.

Was it George? There were six sons of Alice and Maurice.

Robert Abbot went on to become Bishop of Salisbury.

Maurice Abbot (named after his father) was a founder of the East India Company, Alderman, then Sherrif and finally Lord Mayor of London.

The family grew up in a time of religious upheaval. Marice was a local clothier.

A memorial to Maurice and Alice can be found in Holy Trinity Church. Centrepiece of the memorial is a lectern with what is assumed to be a Bible.

This was strange time. During this period Guildford produced five bishops!

John Parkhurst studied the Coverdale Bible and Tyndale Bible, even though banned at the time. For a while he was exiled to Zurich. He was Bishop of Norwich. On his death, his library was bequethed to Guildford and housed at the Royal Grammar School. His library contained many radical books. These would have been seen and read by George Abbot as he was a pupil at the school at the time.

The labels we apply today did not apply at the time, but if we were to apply labels, then George Abbot was a Calvanist and a Puritan. He was never a parish priest but believed in Bishops. He was primarily an academic.

He wrote Briefe Description of the Whole Worlde. This has recently been republished with the Master of Abbot’s Hospital as editor.

He gave 30 lectures on the Book of Jonah, these were then published in 1600 as Expostion on the Prophet Jonah.

George Abbot became Master of an Oxford College, Dean of Westminster.

He had as patron Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset.

It was during this time that he engaged in a bitter feud with William Laud, who he tried to stop getting a Mastership of an Oxford College. It was a bitter feud that was to last a lifetime.

George Abbot believed in predestination, that is only the elect go to heaven, the rest go to hell.

He acquired a new patron George Home, Earl of Dunbar. Chancellor of the Exchequer and a man who had the ear of James I.

George Abbot and the Earl of Dunbar put the case for Bishops in Scotland.

1609 appointed as Bishop of Coventry.

1610 appointed as Bishop of London.

Lancelot Andrewes was expected to be appointed as the next Archsbishop of Canterbury, but to the surpise of everyone, James I (acting on the advice of Dunbar) appointed George Abbot.

It was not a popular choice. The Puritans suspected him, the Catholics (with good cause) hated him. The Bishops did not like it, neither did the clergy.

George Abbot was enthroned as Archbishop in 1611, the same year that saw the publication of the King James Bible.

Six companies, two in London, two in Cambridge, two in Cambridge were appointed by James 1 to produce a new Bible. George Abbot was a member of the Oxford company.

As Archbishop, George Abbot set up a network of spies and informers. He hunted down Catholics. Catholic priests were executed.

March 1612 the last burning of a priest for heresy.

George Abbot opposed marriages to Catholics. This angered the King and eventually led to a rift between George Abbot and James I.

He opposed the marriage of Prince Charles to a Catholic.

There was no warmth between George Abbot and Charles I.

George Abbot refused to licence a sermon that proposed more money should go to the King.

Ironically George Abbot was in touch with the mood in the country, but that did not help.

George Abbot was banished to the Manor of Ford in Kent. He was stripped of his authority. His duties were now exercised by William Laud, his lifelong enemy.

1621 George Abbot killed a gamekeeper. It was an accident. James I said no big deal. But he fell foul of Canon Law, thou shalt not kill. It cast a shadow over what was left of his life.

He spent the remainder of his life in Croydon, Archbishop in name only.

He died in Croydon, where his funeral took place. He lies entombed in Holy Trinity Church in Guildford.

The legacy of George Abbot was twofold.

Abbot’s Hospital (1619), an almshouse for 24 men and women of Guildford. Five farms were also gifted to provide an income. Adjacent was a Manufactuary to help the ailing wool trade. It had four farms to provide an income. [see George Abbot and Abbot’s Hospital]

George Abbot was one of the translators of the King James Bible. In that role he contributed to the English language memorable phrases.

Turn the world upside down
scales fall from your eyes
no small stir

Was he popular? No. But he would say he listened to his God and that was who he obeyed.

Based on an excellent talk given by Catherine Ferguson at St Nicolas Church in Guildford. Part of the King James Bible Celebrations 2011.

George Abbot and Abbot’s Hospital

July 12, 2011

George Abbot was Archbishop of Canterbury. The King James Bible and Abbot’s Hospital (an almshouse in Guildord) were his lasting legacy.

George Abbot (1562-1633) was born in Guildford, his father a local clothier (maker of cloth). When she was carrying George, his mother Alice had a dream (or so the legend goes). She was to eat a pike, and if she did, her boy (the dream told her it was a boy she was carrying), would grow up to be a great man. The next norning, she dropped her bucket in the river (they lived alongside the River Wey by the medieval bridge) and in popped a pike. When this became known, important benefactors offered to sponsor George through school and university.

George was baptised in St Nicolas Church. He attended the Royal Grammar School, then Oxford, where he became Master of one of the Colleges and eventually vice-chancellor.

But did the dream refer to George? His brother Robert became Bishop of Salisbury. His brother Maurice, named after his father, was one of the founding directors of the East India Company, Alderman of London, Sherrif of London, Lord Mayor of London.

This was a strange time for Guildford. Five people of Guildford who were born or grew up there went on to become Bishops. It has never happened before or since.

George Abbot was an academic, a prolific writer. He gave 30 sermons on Jonah, which he published. He also wrote A Brief Description of the Whole World, the Master of Abbot’s Hospital has recently edited.

George Abbot, Earl of Dunbar, was patron of George Abbot. It was through his patronage that James I appointed George Abbot as Archbishop of Canterbury. He was neither the expected choice or a popular choice and became increasingly unpopular as Archbishop.

George Abbot had strong Calvinist views (with links to Protestants abroad), was very anti-Catholic. He spied on Catholics, had his own network of infomers and spies, had Catholic priests arrested and executed, heretics were burnt at the stake.

In his final years he was Archbishop in name only. He lies entombed in Holy Trinity Church in Guildford. His two greatest achievments were his contribution to the King James Bible and Abbot’s Hospital in Guildford.

Abbot’s Hospital (1619) is a Tudor-style building, built in the style of an Oxford college, with gatehouse, quadrangle and a Master’s Lodge. It is for the poor of Guildford, over 60 and single. Ajacent was a building for the manufacture of cloth to try and aid the ailing wool trade. As well as building Abbot’s Hospital he gifted five farms for its support, plus four five farms to support the manufacturing of cloth.

Inside Abbot’s Hospital is a small chapel. The stained glass windows are regarded as the finest of their type in the country. Beyond the hospital is a walled garden. Originally used for growing food for those who lived there. The walls have cavities for bee hives. The bees pollinated the fruit trees and provided beeswax and honey. The common room has the original tables and chairs.

Based on an excellent talk by Catherine Ferguson in the wonderful surroundings of Abbot’s Hospital, followed by a guided tour by the Master of Abbot’s Hospital.

In the beginning was the word. 400th anniversary of King James Bible. Talk by Catherine Ferguson. St Nicolas Church, Guildford. 7-30pm Tuesday 12 July 2011.

An unwanted Archbishop. A persepctive on George Abbot. Talk by Catherine Ferguson. St Nicolas Church, Guildford. 7-30pm Tuesday 19 July 2011.

George Abbot’s Guildford

June 29, 2011
George Abbot

George Abbot

George Abbot (1562-1633), Archbishop of Canterbury, contributor to the King James Bible, founder of Abbot’s Hospital (an almshouse top end of Guildford High Street opposite Holy Trinity Church) was born and grew up in Guildford where he attended the Royal Grammar School. His father was a local cloth maker.

Maurice Abbot, father of George Abbot, was a clothier (weaver of cloth) from Suffolk, a wealthy local merchant who with fellow clothiers controlled the local wool trade. He was one of the Approved Men who with the Mayor ran the borough. He was married to Alice and they had six sons. The family lived in a house by the River Wey beside the Medieval bridge. The house was demolished in the 1950s and the site is now a public car park between the river and the George Abbot pub.

The Medieval bridge was used by foot passengers, animals and carts used the ford. The medieval bridge no longer exists, was destroyed in a flood. Similar bridges may still be found upstream. The ford can still be seen alongside the current bridge.

When Alice, mother of George, was in child with George she had a dream that if she caught and ate a pike he would be a man of some importance. Robert became Bishop of Salisbury. Maurice named after his father was a wealthy merchant in London, a London Alderman.

Guildford c 1600 was a town of some note, three churches, a friary and a castle. Houses lined the High Street, their large gardens ran back to the town ditch which was the border of the borough. The gardens were used for growing crops and keeping animals. Later cottages for rent were built to house the growing population. It was important to live in a borough as more freedom to trade than if one lived outside in a village. Many of the houses had a medieval undercroft.

Many of the side streets and alleys had the name gate. Why? Could there have been a gate across the entrance?

The Scandinavian gaten is the Scandinavian word for street. Many of the medieval streets in Lincoln end in -gate, for example Flaxengate, Clasketgate. The same can be found in York. This was a corruption of the Scandinavian for street not because they led to a gate in the city wall. But Guildford is too far south to have had a Viking influence. On the other hand, maybe a hint of a hitherto unknown Viking influence?

George Abbot attended the Royal Grammar School, a free school, where he learnt Latin. He then went on to Oxford.

George Abbot was a member of the Oxford group, one of six groups requested by James I to produce what we now know as the King James Bible. George Abbot translated the four Gospels and the Book of Revelations.

Abbot’s Hospital was founded by George Abbot in 1619 for twenty old people of Guildford who have fallen on hard times. He had originally wished to do something to improve trade in Guildford as that would have helped more people. [see George Abbot and Abbot’s Hospital]

George Abbot is entombed in Holy Trinity Church.

Based on a talk given at St Mary’s Church by Mary Alexander (church warden and curator of Guildford Museum) drawing upon material from the local archives. Part of the celebrations in Guildford to mark 400 years of the King James’ Bible.

It is a pity that Mary Alexander who gave the talk on George Abbot did not see fit to mention Bible-in-a-room that was taking place at St Mary’s the following week or that Catherine Ferguson was giving a talk on the King James Bible. For her own talk there was no notice or mention on the church noticeboard, not even a notice pinned to the church door. One gets the impression that talks are part of a secret society for only those in the know.

Guildford Museum has a George Abbot exhibition running all summer. Guildford House has a contemporary George Abbot exhibition. Holy Trinity Church is maintaining a Bible Journal.

Creative Arts @ Costa, a celebration of music, word and the visual arts, takes place at Costa in Swan Lane in Guildford on the first Tuesday of the month (same day as the farmers market). The next event is Tuesday evening 5 July 2011. There will be no events in August and September. Swan Lane is the narrow lane that runs between the High Street and North Street at the lower end of the High Street. With Eden People, a Christian collective.

The Keystone Spirit is a regular meeting of Eden People at The Keystone Pub (3 Portsmouth Road, Guildford, GU2 4BL).

The Bible in Voice and Verse, a celebration of the King James’ Bible. St John’s, Stoke Road, Guildford. 7.45pm Thursday 14 July 2011.

Cultural Day. New Testament Church of God. 2-6pm Sunday 6 August 2011.