St Albans Diocesan Guild of Vergers

Among the roses of the martyrs, Brightly shines St Alban

How we came by the Bishops Mace

In 1938 Sir Henry Dashwood one time chancellor of the diocese wrote to Dean Thickness from Wilton House Shenley.

“I have had in my possession now for several years I think just after the war a Sheffield plate Wand which is over 200 years old it has at its head a mitre and as we have not here as rector one in Episcopal orders this implement is not of much use and has in fact only appeared in church on two or three occasions when Michael (Bishop Michael Furse) by divine permission has been officiating.

I do not know whether the abbey is over burdened with weapons of this kind which by the way is of no monetary value so far as I know, If you think when you have seen it that this poker would find a use in your parish church where I suppose someone in Episcopal Orders drops in at frequent intervals you will be very welcome to it I do not want to however to press it on you and I ought to tell you how it came my way.

It was stolen from somewhere and when the burglar found it was not silver he left it in a sack in a ditch in surrey. From the ditch it reached Scotland yard and the commissioner of police thinking I suppose that suspicion fell on me sent members of his staff to my office in Westminster (church House) to investigate. The result was that I wrote a letter to the Church Punch and the other Church papers asking what Church certain named Churchwardens who are engraved on the poker were Churchwardens in 1735 .These letters produced no result I then bought the thing from the police and I believe the money went to their charities.

All this is many years ago and I have no conviction recorded Against Me”

They met a month later but Sir Henry forgot to bring it with him He writes “I am sorry I made a mess of things by not bringing the Poker last night….. I did not want to take it as I was fearful of being arrested on a Sunday Evening in St Albans carrying this dangerous weapon.

All ended well Dean Thicknesse writes two days later that “we are all entirely delighted with the poker .Watkins is going to York on the 25th to act as Virger to Leslie Owen at his consecration to the Bishopric of Jarrow and I am anxious that the poker shall be used for the first time upon this Occasion

Source Correspondence in the cathedral muniment room (archives)

And still in use today

Peter Hudson