England 40 Years Ago — March 8, 1982

We looked at antiques in Dorking and found that the fronts of those small shops hide amazing spaces crammed full of furniture. There were small rooms upstairs, downstairs, and in lofts. The area I’m talking about is the small street where we pointed out to some of you a plaque about the Pilgrims who sailed to America. These shops specialize in larger pieces of furniture rather than knick-knacks. I was drawn to chairs, while John kept looking at sideboards. The piece we both fell in love with was a small cabinet that camouflaged a coal bucket. The inlaid wood was exquisite, but we couldn’t think of a way to use it in the Stony Brook house.

We noticed two For Sale signs – one at the house we would have loved to buy from our first visit to London and the other at Timberly (the first house we rented). Guess I’m a little wistful.

Bjorg S came out for tea and dinner; John had known her in New York and worked with her in London. She was very kind to the children, and we had a chance for a long chat after they went to bed. Enjoyable! It was nice to have the house presentable, too! All but $ pitched in to straighten, neaten, and clean. Surely that’s a reason to resolve to have company at least once a month!

We took a last swing into Westminster Abbey. As usual, the music was glorious and the preaching atrocious. After the service John showed Kate and me where he’d walked in the cloisters during the sermon. Some of the walls are from the 1100’s. Buried behind walkways and low passages was a delightful little cloister where a merry little fountain sparked in the middle of lush green grass and flower beds. Also tucked away was a treasure room where we saw the replicas of the crown jewels that are used for rehearsals of coronations, funeral effigies surprisingly life-like, the oldest saddle (for a horse) in Europe, seals and signatures of historical greats, and the coronation chair used only once to augment the ancient one when William and Mary were crowned simultaneously.

Responsibility for a service at St. Mary’s in Reigate rested partly on our shoulders when our home group led the service at 6:30 last night. Two ladies were in charge of the coffee, all women brought biscuits, the men helped with the offering, one of our group is a clergyman and could legally hold the communion service, Penny gave a testimony, several did readings and prayers, I accompanied the singers of our group for songs during communion, and John preached. It all went very smoothly for a surprisingly large congregation.

John could say, “Something funny happened on the way to the pulpit.” Just before the service he was checking the pulpit light when Tim, the minister of our group, was chatting with the regular vicar nearby. The vicar said to Tim in a chill, somber voice, “Just who is this John Mehrling?”

Tim, slightly taken aback, explained that John had been coming for two years. John walked over to re-introduce himself and got a very stiff reception. That would have really upset me, but John didn’t mention it until we were on our way home. He said the man had every right to be concerned about what would be preached by a stranger. It was a bit late to be concerned, I thought. We laughingly decided that every home group service will be minutely examined hereafter.

Today we bought an Edwardian umbrella stand that appealed to the whimsical and the practical in us. [It is in the entrance hall in North Carolina. We do not have a proper umbrella, only collapsible ones in tired heaps. A harness for Sadie and my fancy cane gravitated here.]

[For lack of any other appropriate photo, I will include our Welsh lovespoon. It should have been included in the letter for March 1.]

17 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — March 8, 1982

  1. The Welsh love spoon is unique. I like your Edwardian umbrella stand, too. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the more pragmatic side of your time in England.


  2. Thanks for taking me along. I must say I had a chuckle when I read the “music was glorious; the preaching atrocious”. Sometimes there is no need for anything other than heavenly music. I was also reminded of my trip to London with my daughter many years ago and the glorious music we heard at Westminster – such a sweet memory.


  3. I love that you were looking at large pieces of furniture knowing that you would have to ship it back home! The spoon looks like an appropriate object to slip home easily.


    1. We were blessed in knowing that the company was going to move us back to the States as part of John’s contract. We bought a hutch there which is in our dining room right now. I think that was the only large item we bought.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that was the Sunday cane. I didn’t buy it until I was fairly certain I’d never be able to walk without one. I am so thankful that the physical therapist Rebecca helped me walk without aid. Looking at me today, you’d never guess I’d ever had knee problems.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good for you Anne. Thank goodness you opted for knee replacements rather than silently suffering in both knees the rest of your life.

        My high school friend had a massive stroke last April 15th – she has made so much progress through her physical therapy session. She was paralyzed on one side, could not see out of one eye. She went from wheelchair to walker to cane and is not trying to walk without any aids and taking a special driver’s test to see if she is once again ready to begin driving. They test your response time and cognitive ability while driving.


          1. Yes, she is remarkable Anne. Her and her husband just took a plane trip to Florida. His college roommates and their wives got together once or twice a year. They stopped those gatherings due to COVID – so this was the first gathering in two years. Cherie was apprehensive, but they rented a wheelchair for the airport and sightseeing (they were in Florida a week) and it worked out very well.


  4. Just a delightful stroll – the old shops sound wonderful to explore (Sigh, if only such days were possible now)
    Glad you kept that umbrella stand – we’d use it for harness, too…and maybe a spot to drape aa small towel for quick dog dry off coming in. It’s a lovely piece


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