Saturday, May 06, 2006

Fascinating (Brideshead Revisited Companion)

I stumbled across this fascinating website whilst trying to find out about the Savoy Chapel where the divorced Rex was able to marry Julia. I had assumed previously (and incorrectly) that it might have something to do with the Savoy Hotel, but I discover that it is a 'Royal Peculiar':
178 Savoy Chapel
Julia later explains to Charles how sordid the whole affair had been. She points out that the Savoy Chapel was ‘the place where divorced couples got married in those days - a poky little place’.
The Chapel in fact has an interesting history. Savoy is today a province of France but in the Middle Ages was a more-or-less independent dukedom. King Henry III of England married Anne of Savoy and so began the Anglo-Saxon involvement with the word Savoy. Her uncle Peter of Savoy built a palace in London which contained the original Savoy Chapel; both were destroyed in the Peasants’ Revolt (1381). On its site Henry VII started to build the Savoy Hospital for homeless people in the last years of the fifteenth century; it was not completed until 1512. It was huge, with a nave 200 feet long designed to hold a hundred beds. All that now remains of that great endeavour (dissolved in the Reformation) is the side chapel we call the Savoy Chapel, though the hotel and the theatre which were later built on the site were also named Savoy.
The Chapel is in fact in the private possession of the monarch, and has been since 1937 the official chapel of the Royal Victorian Order. The fact that the chaplain is answerable only to the monarch and not to the church authorities allowed divorced people to book it for remarriage.
I'm also pleased to find an explaination for cousin Jaspar's comment about Boar's Hill:
26 Keep clear of Boar’s Hill
Boar’s Hill was a village to the south-west of Oxford. Many dons lived there. It was supposed to contain many young females who were always on the lookout to entrap eligible young undergraduates into devotion, engagement and marriage. But a more likely explanation of Jasper’s aversion is that a number of ladies (e.g. Lady Keeble) maintained literary salons in Boar’s Hill which encouraged a stifling rather than liberating air of intellectual seriousness. These might on the other hand be sufficiently attractive to inveigle students away from their books to the delights of intelligent social discourse.
There is a splendid and famous view of Oxford from Boar’s Hill.

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