The Clergy: C of E and not: all bumbling their way towards God as best they may. The main character sheet is here.
Established and otherwise, as followeth. Here beginneth the Lesson.
The Wider Diocese
The Rt Rev'd Stephen Chubb Dip CRES MA (Lond.) (KCL), Bishop of Sarum:
A mild and much-tried man. Home Counties-bred, with the look of a heron surveying an unpromising pond. Married to Mary. (Noel Paddick, agreeing with Chesterton that "coincidences are spiritual puns," is pleased that his Bishop and his Bishop's lady wife have the same Christian names as Noel's own parents.) Lost a young son some years ago. Bien-pensant, moderately trendy, and a Guardian reader, but, in fact, more orthodox than some (the Duke, for one) give him credit for and was, rather unexpectedly, a Royal Navy chaplain in his youth. Rather weary of trying to balance the contending wings of the C of E; rather relieved that the Woolfonts, being the Duke's livings, are under the Alternative Episcopal Oversight of Ebbsfleet. Noel mediated a longstanding quarrel between Duke and Bishop within a month of arriving; the Bishop intends to make Noel a suffragan bishop as soon as the canons allow, and have him canonized a saint as soon as he dies. Is worrying himself into a decline.
- Benevolent Boss: He tries very hard, and mostly succeeds. Despite having an unruly flock. (Of course, enforcement is what archdeacons are there for....)
- Bourgeois Bohemian: He's an honest and sympathetic sort of one, with a Labour progressive's heart and surprisingly orthodox ecclesiastical views."'This appointment has been my cross, my dear Archdeacon Philips; my crucifixion, if that's not blasphemous as well as overdramatic and whinging. But it is a literally impossible position. [snip] And in the meantime, I am torn, with my Church, by contending factions, as if I were tied to horses driven in opposing directions.'"
- Death by Origin Story: Very nearly suffered a Crisis of Faith after the death of his young son. He managed, just, to persevere. But it has certainly influenced his approach to being bishop.
- Fire-Forged Friends: First he and the Duke were Foils. Then came Teeth-Clenched Teamwork. And now.... Cue the Agincourt speech.
- Foil: To the Duke, and vice-versa. Of course, that was before Father Paddick effected a reconciliation.
- Good Shepherd: With all his flaws and failings (which he readily admits), he remains one, to the diocese and particularly to his clergy. It's the really saintly ones he has the most trouble with: Noel, for instance.
- Mentor Archetype: All a Part of the Job. Even if he feels that in a time of Church crisis, he's an Obsolete Mentor.
- One Steve Limit: Averted and lampshaded. He and Mrs. Chubb have the same Christian names as Father Paddick's parents. Which Fr. Paddick considers a Chestertonian "spiritual pun."
- The Philosopher: With all the sadness of ineffectuality added. A bishop of the Established Church ought to be a philosopher-king at least in, and as to, his own diocese; Bishop Chubb, being a philosopher, is all too aware that, nowadays, a bishop isn't and cannot be.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He is trying to the point of undermining his health to hold the C of E together, at least in his diocese." the Bishop, at the height of the savage fight at the General Synod over women in the episcopate, had collapsed with a bleeding peptic ulcer and been given aid by Charles, there to thunder against the measure, and Canon Potecary (one of the main props and stays of the proposal)...."
- Rituals and Ceremonies: He and the Duke both have a weakness for these and an inner showman (okay, an inner Cecil B. DeMille) apiece; between them, they make Father Paddicks' installation as Rector the next thing to an episcopal enthronement, and, as Lady Crispin bitterly warned, all but turn Crispin's burial service into a State Funeral. Fr. Paddick, in both instances, managed to tone things down to some level of reverent sanity.
- Saintly Church: He'll make his one or die trying.
- Smart People Know Latin: Despite the occasional condescension of Oxbridge men to a KCL / London man, he does in fact have Latin. And makes a point of not using it.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: After reconciling with the Duke, this was the next step.
Mary Chubb, wife to the Bishop:
Despite having been devastated by the death of their son, she Carries On: "an English gentlewoman, case-hardened steel in a twin-set and pearls: the sort of woman who, through every tragedy, is to be found implacably gardening, resolutely pouring out the Darjeeling, indefatigably having people to dinner." Manages tricky situations with ease and under the radar; without her, the Bishop would be a good deal more lost than he is.
- Cool Old Lady: In a very proper way and a version of the Granny Classic.
- Death by Origin Story: As for her husband. Their son's death very nearly destroyed her.
- The Social Expert: And thus a great help to her husband.
- Prematurely Grey-Haired: Subverted. She's old enough to have gone a bit grey, but it's admitted that what she's been through hasn't exactly helped.
- Proper Lady: As noted, "an English gentlewoman, case-hardened steel in a twin-set and pearls."
- Team Mom: Particularly to the clergy of the diocese. It helps that she ignores the issues dividing them:"'I,' said the Bishop's wife, gently, 'leave the theology to Stephen. My own faith, such as it is, is very personal; devotional. I have really no opinion on these matters. All the same, I appreciate, with, I think, a special insight, the points on both sides.'"
The Ven. Nigel Philips MA (Oxon) BTh (Westcott / Cantab), Archdeacon of Beechbourne ("Flops," to the Duke and other old schoolmates):
Languid, diplomatic ecclesiastical enforcer and fixer, ex officio the Duke, his oldest and best enemy, thinks he ought to have been at the FCO, selling out the country ; not unambitious, but far too discreet to let it show. As noted, was at school and university with the Duke: Hawtreys, Eton, and Oxford he's a Keble man ; the Duke has not changed his assessment since: "Glib, facile, and mean with his tuck, was Flops...."
- Deadpan Snarker: The man went through his prepper, Eton, and Oxford holding his own against the Duke. And can yet.
- The Face: The actual Real Life job of archdeacons is to be this and The Lancer and enforcer.
- The Good Chancellor: Although not in fact the chancellor of the diocese, which is another role entirely.
- Hidden Depths: He can be quite witty when he unbends. And, deeper and more hidden, his favorite film is Patton.
- The Lancer: To Bishop Chubb, officially and temperamentally.
- Like an Old Married Couple: He and the Duke have been the dearest of enemies for decades.
- Never Accepted in His Hometown: Well, not by the Duke or some other Old Etonians, who still regard him in a schoolboy light.
- Rules Lawyer: It's a job requirement. Sometimes to the exasperation of bishop and clergy alike. But Canon Law is Canon Law, full stop, and bad things happen when it isn't followed.
- The Sheriff: All a Part of the Job. Archdeacons are this to the clergy on behalf of the bishop.
- The Starscream: Subverted. He is discreetly ambitious, and intends to be a bishop before he dies, and knows that doing his best job and being self-effacing is the surest way to that. But he remains both virtuous and loyal.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With the Duke. For ages.
The Very Rev'd Simon Blanchard BA (Dunelm) MA (Oxon) BTh (Chicester) MTh (Oxon) DD (Oxon), Dean Emeritus, Rural Dean (Dean of Wolfdown):
Cousin to the local surgeon Gilbert Blanchard; a stout, comfortable, formidable man, sometimes impatient he was at Marlborough and then went up to Durham of all the Eton-Harrow and Oxford-Cambridge matches being played out in the Deanery and the Diocese by other means. Reveres and worries about Noel. Was Dean of the Cathedral Chapter before retiring to his Rural Deanery, and knows all the dodges. Cut his teeth in the Downland parishes, for which he retains a special concern and for whom he will stick at very little. Wily as an old badger. Incumbent of S Edith Compton Malet joined with S Mary Magdalene Teaselbury St Mary.
- Badass Preacher / Warrior Monk: Commonly with words. But he is physically imposing, with Stout Strength, and no one fails to yield to him (his being the previous Dean of the Cathedral Chapter helps, of course). In fact, he's all a good bit Friar Tuck.
- Cunning Like a Fox: And Fr. Gascelyn Levett calls him out as such when the Dean drafts him into Holy Orders as a retirement gig after being a Fellow at Cambridge."'You're up to something, you cunning old clerk. Out with it.'"
- Guile Hero: How he gets his way. For the good of the Church. Well, the Diocese. Well, the parishes he's specially fond of. (The Woolfonts and the Downland parishes, even as against the others in his deanery, are very much his old Protectorate. So also is Noel Paddick, personally.)
- Mentor Archetype: The Archdeacon and Canon Potecary both served their titles under him, and he is gently disinclined to allow them to forget it."Dean Blanchard, obviously, yet retained an ascendancy over the Archdeacon from the Cliff Ambries days, and the Archdeacon remained sentimental about those parishes which had very much been the Dean's downland fief when he'd been young. And the current Dean and Chapter simply accepted as a fact of life that, throughout the Diocese and specially in the Wolfdown Deanery, there was a sort of 'mafia' of clergy who'd done stints at S Aldhelm Woolhead S Aldhelm and at S Michael & All Angels Sutton Whitfield, or both: a mafia which notably included the Archdeacon and Canon Potecary: and one simply had no choice but to wear the fact with such Grace as one were given."
- Rules Lawyer: To match the Archdeacon. His rule-fu is stronger.
- Serious Business: He's the one who will always lampshade, even to the Bishop, that, to nine-tenths even of their own nominal parishioners, all these church crises are utterly meaningless.To the Bishop and the Archdeacon: "Young Mr Mirza at the school is not the only member of a religious minority in this district: we are as well, all of us. We may be the national and Established Church, and our nominal rolls, extensive: but they are nominal. To the average man and woman, all these upsets and quarrels are an inexplicable and incomprehensible wrangle amongst a few odds and sods with an eccentric hobby. It impinges upon the common mind to the same extent as an argument between factions in the British Bee Farmers' Association indeed, rather less so, as this is, after all, an agricultural district."
- Turbulent Priest: When necessary."Dean Blanchard, however, was not capable of being daunted. He was one of the bulldog breed."
The Rev'd Canon Judith Potecary BS Hons (Theology & Sociology) (Brist) BTh (Ridley / Cantab) MA (Pastoral Theology) (Cantab Theol Fdn / Ang Rus), Team Rector, Beechbourne:
Stout, staunch Rector of the Combined Benefice of Beechbourne, Chickmarsh, & the Woolheads. (Not an easy job: Beechbourne and Chickmarsh have a Small Town Rivalry dating back to no, no, not the English Civil War. Not the Wars of the Roses. The Anarchy one was for Stephen, one was for Maud.) The Duke went ballistic when, briefly and improperly, his livings were folded in to that benefice. Canonically chaste civil partner of local psychiatrist Cicely Pinnell-Cundick. Intends to be a bishop sooner or later. Has Uncompromising, Right-On Views; loves Noel, with some exasperation, anyway.
- Ambition Is Evil: Subverted. Her desire to be a woman bishop now that these are permitted in the C of E, like her having taken Orders to begin with, is not presented as evil; but she confronts, with a little helpful advicefrom Cicely (who isn't keen to move somewhere else where there's a bishopric open let alone to move OopNorth), the fact that her reasons for wanting to be part of the first wave were Not Unmixed and not purely feminist and churchly.
- Chastity Couple: Presumably. In-Universe, the dying Father Pryor notes that if she and Cicely weren't one themselves, she'd have been honest enough to say so before raising the issue in front of her bishop and the Archdeacon. On the other hand, she worries for Noel in a way that suggests she knows how hard the choice is and how likely it is to fail....
- Earth Mother: As part of a stout and pugnacious to elegant and snarky duo with Cicely, though she's not a mother and not really even Hollywood Pudgy, really. She is earthy....
- Good Shepherd: In her own combative way, very much so.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Subverted in that she and Cicely are (a) in a canonically chaste civil partnership as required by the canons of the C of E and (b) are neither one particularly or notably femme, high femme, butch, or what have you. They are simply two women in a same-sex partnership.
- Nature Lover / Outdoorsy Gal: Averted and lampshaded. Cicely accuses her of having a passion for frowst and an aversion to fresh air, let alone countryside. (Her present benefice, a town living in part, seems to suit her better than the Woolfonts did.)
- Sarcastic Devotee: To Noel, to the Church, even to the Duke (cue Snark-to-Snark Combat in three, two, one...). In her first scene with Noel, she and the Archdeacon get to snark lovingly at him:When the Archdeacon introduced her to the newly-installed Noel, after he'd punched out a footballer who was groping the Hon. Gwen: "Say what one liked about Judith Potecary and the duke did no one denied that she had a fine singing voice and a wicked sense of humour. She demonstrated both on the Sunday, at the Rectory, after service, when, as Noel greeted her, the Archdeacon, and the Rural Dean, she grinned at him and began singing 'Gonna Fly Now'.
"He blushed and ducked his head.
"'My dear Noel,' said the Archdeacon, '"Muscular Christianity" is all very well, but ..'
"'Nigel,' said the Rural Dean, warningly. It is not commonly given to a Rural Dean to correct an Archdeacon, but when the former is the senior man, is the late Dean of the Cathedral, and is known twice to have turned down elevation to the See, it can happen: as it was happening just then."
- Straw Feminist: Averted good and hard. She gets some great lines and makes (indefatigably) a consistent and compelling argument."I accept his right to his view, and no one can say I don't appreciate the points he makes. But the C of E has voted long since to ordain women, and, now, to raise us to the episcopate. I accept as valid his orders, and I don't claim Dean Blanchard or the Archdeacon haven't a right to their cloth; surely I and the other women ordained in the Church might expect to have the same right in return. [ ] If a woman's a priest, she's a priest; if a bishop, she's a bishop, full stop, and that's the end of it. They needn't like it, but why ought they to have the choice we never had whether or not to lump it?"
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Dr. Emily Witchard the local GP.
- Worthy Opponent: To Noel, in a white-on-white clash of opinions about every imaginable issue in the C of E today, and with love and respect on both sides. She is aware that if she could convince him by actual argument, she'd have no greater supporter of women's ordination and consecration, and says as much.
Cicely Pinnell-Cundick, psychiatrist, Beechbourne:
Canonically chaste civil partner of local Canon Judith Potecary. Elegant, soignée, sardonic, and very, very shrewd.
- Brainy Brunette: And a damned handsome woman, too, by Jove.
- Chastity Couple: With Judith.
- The Clan: Related to Judge Cundick and Tony Macey the solicitor.
- Deadpan Snarker: As part of a stout and pugnacious to elegant and snarky duo with Judith.
- Sarcastic Devotee: To all those she likes. From Duke to Judith.
- The Shrink: Well, yes. Of the awesome variety.
The Rev'd "Jock" Birdwell BA Hons (Theology) (Exon) BTh (Ministry) (Westcott / Cantab), Team Vicar, Beechbourne:
Canon Potecary's diligent Team Vicar in Beechbourne, Chickmarsh, & the Woolheads.
- The Clan: There are a lot of local Birdwells, including young Hal at the Free School.
- Good Shepherd: Jock Birdwell isn't hugely interested in theological disputation: he's all about minstry.
- Nature Lover: Averted and lampshaded. Cicely lumps him in with Canon Potecary as having no liking for fresh air.
The Very Rev'd Alexandra Herridge, Dean of the Cathedral Chapter, Cathedral Dean:
Dean of the Cathedral Chapter, opinionated, clever, and dedicated.
- The Clan: Cousin to one of the Spinsters of Cliff Ambries, and plenty of other Herridges.
- Cunning Like a Fox: Predatory, alert, and vulpine, you may recall.
- Fiery Redhead: By clerical standards, certainly.
- The Good Chancellor: In effect, though not the chancellor of the Diocese (that's Judge Cundick: it is a legal post).
- The Needs of the Many: There's not much she won't countenance for the greater good of the Church. As she defines it. All the same, she's firmly on the side of righteousness.
- Worthy Opponent: To the Duke and vice-versa."'Quite clever yes, obviously, he is; and quite a good idea, too, which is not always the case. Can't bear the little man, but.... He might, actually, make a decent lay canon.'
"The Bishop slewed 'round and stared at her in utter shock not, thought the Archdeacon, altogether unmixed with horror."
The Rev'd Canon George Maidment, Diocesan Press Officer:
Ex-Independent journalist. Finds Noel Paddick his best if most wearisome job security. Not amused by the In-Universe fandom that's grown up around the Woolfonts. Almost as cunning and sinuous as the Duke. A rather less sweary Malcolm Tucker.
- Cunning Like a Fox: Fleet Street will do that to a man who survives.
- The Cynic: Fleet Street will do that to a man, too. He also regards saintly clergy like Noel as being far more likely to cause crises for him than the more humanly-frail types.
- Da Editor: Poacher turned gamekeeper version: he is this to the diocesan communications staff, right down to having their backs.
- Seen It All: And reported most of it. Knows all the dodges.
- Worthy Opponent: Regards the Duke as such. Detests all he represents (ex-Independent journalist, remember?) but cynically admires his Manipulative Bastard qualities.
The Combined Benefice (The Woolfonts, Somerfords, & Harstbournes)
The Rev'd Paul Campion MA (Oxon) MA (Liturgy) (Coll Resurrection Mirfield / Sheff) SSC Curate with special responsibility for the Woolfonts:
Brother to Dr Tim Campion the organist and choir director, and at once the youngest and most senior in service of Noel's curates. Hearty, sporty, rugger-bugger (in fact, he won his Blue at Oxford for just that) called mysteriously to the cure of souls, and resembling a young Jonny Wilkinson in vestments. Equally happy celebrating Mass or banging away at the piano and leading a sing-along down the Boar. Happier yet taking the Church Lads for a match. A gentle giant: but don't be fooled by that....
- Academic Athlete: He didn't get a mere pass degree at Keble, you know.
- Badass Baritone: To his Rector's heroic tenor. It keeps the service music interesting when they take alternate services.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Applies with extra force to him and his parish colleagues."There were fools mostly but not exclusively idle, drunken men and fathers, though occasionally slatternly women as well who thought that clergymen and, forgetting the hard lesson of the money-changers in the Temple, their Master were 'gentle, meek, and mild'; who had not considered that a good shepherd is just that precisely because he protects his flock from predation and smites predators; who regarded, with some national justification which simply did not apply in these parishes, the C of E especially as spineless and happy-clappy; and who mistook 'good' for 'weak'.
"Unfortunately for fools the Rev'd Canon Noel Paddick had boxed and rowed, though not for his college (being too busy with his studies), at Oxford, and could probably bench-press the duke's prize Gloucester bull; Fr Paul Campion, as a cursory glance ought to have revealed to the most casual observer, had won his Blue, and not so very long since at that, playing murderous rugger for Keble and for Oxford; and the eldest of the three currently resident clergy in the benefice, Fr Gilbert Bohun, all ascetic whipcord, was, formally and in full, the Rev'd Sir Gilbert Bohun Bt MC, late Major, the Blues and Royals: and Fr Bohun took a decidedly military and officer-like approach to difficulties which required the intervention of the Church Militant. As an army. With banners."
- Friend to All Children: And they love him right back. Even when he takes them for sport (the Church Lads' and Church Girls' Brigade is very popular in the Woolfonts; trains religiously; and could quite likely draw with Wales, if not the All Blacks, under his tutelage).
- Gentle Giant: The Reverend Rugger-Bugger.
- Good Shepherd: Prevents BarBrawls by his mere presence, then calms everyone down by starting a sing-along. Endlessly patient; endlessly insistent on reproving sin and requiring repentance. Diligent at all hours, and tirelessly cheerful.
- Large and in Charge: Zigzagged. He is cheerfully obedient to ecclesiastical superiors (and reveres his Rector), despite being as large as any and larger than most. He expects of parishioners no deference to his personal authority and complete deference to his cloth, his spiritual authority. (And does so cheerfully and charmingly. And gets the deference.)
- Lovable Jock: In the American sense of "jock": he's not Scots. Comes of being a rugger-mad Gentle Giant.
- Real Men Love Jesus: The serious practice of Christianity is in his view like growing older: it's not for wimps. (His and Fr. Paddick's old mentor, Fr. Pryor, was prone to quoting Paul on the armour of faith, fighting the good fight, finishing the course, tackling wild beasts at Ephesus, and the like....)
The Rev'd Sir Gilbert Bohun Bt MC MiD MA (Oxon) MA (Liturgy) (Coll Resurrection Mirfield / Sheff) SSC CBS CMP ACS, late Major the Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons), Curate with special responsibility for the Downlands ("Gib" and "Gibbon" to old Army sorts, the Duke included):
Gaunt, ascetic, and not at all cheerless or forbidding; called to Orders late in life, and still a trifle the major in mufti clerical mufti. Was one of Michael Nazir-Ali's last ordinations. A widower, who had chosen to live in poverty and minister without stipend to the poorest communities, he was called in to assist as a supply clergyman during Noel's illness. Seeing the want in the Downland parishes, has been persuaded to return as Noel's second curate, with special responsibilities in the newly joined benefices. While acting as a Home Missionary to the poor in London, became a widower when his wife was killed in the 7/7 terror attacks.
- Blue Blood: Even by Household Cavalry officer standards. He's a baronet, which is not particularly blue-blooded, but the point is that he's a Bohun: pegging level with de Cliffordes, Clares, Malets, Mortimers, Percys, Lacys, and indeed Plantagenets.
- Cavalry Officer: Subverted. He was previously a major in the Blues and Royals. What he is now is a humble parish priest. One with whom it is wisest not to trifle.
- Good Shepherd: And God help you if you're a wolf."It had wanted less than five days for him to sort Black Jack Biddiscombe, the most reprobated and drunken domestic tyrant and all-'round bad hat in the Downland parishes. Black Jack Biddiscombe had been a bad bargain, but he had in his time been a squaddie, if in and out of close tack and once at least in the glasshouse. Fr Bohun had descended upon him in wrath when Mrs Biddiscombe had been spotted bruised and bereft and half-mad with worry over the household funds (which Black Jack had invested at a Shaftesbury off-licence); and had done so not at all as Fr Bohun SSC but wholly as Major Sir Gilbert Bohun MC, in tones which should have caused envy in an RSM and led any regimental defaulter on the mat of old, to quail.
"Jack Biddiscombe 'Pi-Jaw Jack' as he was now known was nowadays working as a cowman in Stoke Yarncombe, attending AA religiously, and well on his way the Biddiscombes were rather Chapel than Church, which had not mattered a damn to Fr Bohun to becoming, as he was to become in after years, a lay preacher in the Vale."
- Lean and Mean: Averted and how. He's a friendly, all-lovingnote ascetic.
- Majorly Awesome: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Retired or not.
- Respected by the Respected: The rest of the clergy (from the Bishop down) are awed by him; Edmond actually listens to him; he and the Duke talk frankly on Bohun-to-Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet and decorated-officer-to-decorated-officer terms; and the retired Gurkhas think he had a damned good war record and might even have made an acceptable officer to them. (No, seriously, Do Not Mess About With This Guy. Just, don't.)
- Retired Badass: For certain values of "retired." The man won the Military Cross. That doesn't come up with the rations.
- Serious Business: The other cleric who will point out that, to most people even in their own parishes, most of what's at stake in C of E infighting, seems to them utterly meaningless:To Edmond: "As Dean Blanchard wisely says, we are, nowadays, a fringe, a minority of anoraks with an odd hobby looked on with indulgent contempt by most of the country: ecclesiastical trainspotters. [snip] the clergy, like the gentry as a whole and the peerage and the professional classes, are objects of public interest not for their position or their views, but as players in the village dramatics, which are always amateur. The struggles and spiritual warfare involved do not impinge upon the public consciousness: there are Test matches and weeding and pop music acts and the weekly shop, farming troubles and politics and the lottery and the pools and Premier League transfers to worry about instead."
The Rev'd Prof. Henry Gascelyn Levett MA (Cantab) MSt (Cantab) PhD (Cantab) FRSA FRHistS RIBA, Fellow of Clare College (Cantab), Curate with special responsibility for the Downlands:
Comfortably sedentary Cambridge don, and the greatest living authority on ecclesiastical architecture and restoration. Snookered, on the eve of academic retirement, by (of course) Dean Blanchard, into taking Orders (which any Oxbridge don is allowed to do, under Canon C 5 of the C of E, pretty much on demand), so as to come to the Downland parishes, oversee their restoration, and act as Noel's third curate. Distantly related to that old foxhunting squire Gerald Warmestre MFH, whose great-grandmother was "a Levett of what might be called the Quorn branch." Welcomes bad weather because it means staying by a warm fire with tea and muffins.
- Big Eater: He's a Non-Action Guy and hearty trencherman who's spent his life scoffing everything the buttery can send up and eating cakes in the Fellows' Garden. And you'd still be wise not to underestimate him.
- Cool Old Guy: Very.
- Good Shepherd: He may have been conned into this vocation, but he'll bring to it every talent he's honed over many decades at Cambridge. Even unto giving up his donnish Brilliant, but Lazy lifestyle.
- The Professor: Subverted. He's the sort of don they really do have at Oxbridge, not at all vague and befuddled or a TV Genius or any of that sort of rubbish.
- Team Grandpa: In the Combined Benefice. The newbie in terms of taking Orders, but by far the senior man, and, as a retired Cambridge don, knows everything about people's follies from years of dealing with undergraduates, the SCR, Masters, bedders, Vice-Chancellors, and, especially, the porters.
The late the Rev'd Giles Wyndham, Noel's predecessor in the Woolfonts:
Tiny little man, known to generations of schoolchildren as "Friar (or Father) Puck;" his wife was an Antrobus from Teddy's own Cheshire. A kindly soul, with an authority five times his stature, and great friends with the Duke, whom he restrained when he might.
- Friend to All Children: And vice-versa. Mind you, they were of a height....
- Fun Size: A wee man loved by all.
- Good Shepherd: Well, David was smaller than Goliath, and what was David's first job? Exactly.
- Purity Personified: Why even the Duke waited until Fr. Wyndham had died in harness to demand his parishes back, splitting them off from Beechbourne once more.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Even the Duke listened to him.
- Respected by the Respected: Once more with feeling: even the Duke gave way to his moral authority.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: He and Mrs. Wyndham.
The late the Rev'd Matthew Pryor MA (Oxon) SSC QHC, Noel's mentor ("Googly," in his cricketing days):
Shrewd Old Harrovian cricketer who once faced the Duke-to-be (and the Nawab) in a Schools Match at Lord's; afterward, a priest in Wolverhampton, where he discovered Noel's voice, made a chorister of him, and set him on the path towards the priesthood. (His being Noel's mentor is why he appears in this part of the list.) Similarly influential in shaping Tim Campion the organist and the Rev'd Paul Campion SSC. Ended up QHC, an Honorary Chaplain to Her Majesty. Died of cancer halfway through Cross And Poppy. No relation to the England cricketer of the same name: an In-Universe and lampshaded Running Gag.
- Almost Famous Name / Named Like My Name / Name's the Same: Shares a name with a (younger) England cricketer, and was himself a noted cricketer at Harrow. As he is the elder, it's not a case of Named After Somebody Famous; it's a case of "It's Hedley! Headingley!"
- Cool Old Guy: Even, or especially, when dying by inches.
- Friend to All Children: He was Noel's first friend when Noel was an Ill Child and Fr. Pryor was doing the hospital visitations. And Noel wasn't a one-off in terms of shepherding the tinies to God.
- Good Shepherd: Not least in forming vocations.Bishop Chubb, speaking to Fr. Pryor at Noel's installation as Rector: "Bishop Chubb, recessing from the church, did not scruple to take Fr Pryor by the elbow and whisper, 'You've served Our Lord well, Matthew, but that young man's the best work you ever did.'
"Fr Pryor simply smiled. He knew that perfectly well."
- Grow Old with Me: He and his wife Elizabeth. Theirs was an ageless romance until, as the Marriage Service puts it, death them departed.
- Like a Son to Me: Noel and Pauline were their children in all but blood.
- Mentor Archetype:
- Respected by the Respected: He and the Duke have respected one another since a thrilling over at Lord's in the School Match of '78, Matt Pryor being Harrow's demon bowler and Charles Templecombe, as he then was, batting Eton out of a looming disaster. And Fr. Pryor was an honorary chaplain to Her Majesty, after all. And when he died
never mind Old Harrovians, old cricket blues, the Duke, his ducal cousin the Duke of Trowbridge, the Nawab,note and the entire City of Wolverhampton: the whole West Midlands showed up to the funeral and couldn't all fit into the church. The man had the next thing to a 100% Adoration Rating."The funeral, then. Mayors and Deputy Lieutenants, bishops, the Lord Lieutenant escorting a Royal Duchess; MPs; peers and prelates beside pupils from the school; the Mercians on parade and their bandsmen supplementing the choir and organ; publicans and directors and chairmen and charwomen; representatives of other faiths, and the faithless and unchurched who yet recognised a communal loss; gentlemen and players, aging Blues, MCC members, men capped for England; organisations without number or counting; the great and the good outnumbered by the poor and humble who had loved Fr Pryor."
- Silver Fox: Went grey early; all it did was make him look like an 18th Century buck with powdered hair.
- So Proud of You: Of Noel, Paul Campion, and indeed Tim Campion.
Elizabeth, Father Pryor's widow:
A great lady called to humble service.
- Cool Old Lady: Always. Even in a crisis."'Matthew was, thank God, more priest than public school boy, but the OE manner does seem even more tiresome than the OH, really. Now, Noel, dear.' She raised her hand toward someone in the crush behind Noel. 'Matthew left you his library and some other things.'
"'Specifically,' said Tim Campion the organist, coming up behind them, 'me.'
"'Timothy, Matthew didn't precisely bequeath you like a slave.' Noel had the inconsequent thought that in an earlier century, which she'd have adorned superbly, Elizabeth should have tapped Campion with a fan."
- Proper Lady: Of the most classical type.
- Silver Fox: It's a crown of dignity.
- Stiff Upper Lip: Everyone's been so very kind, but, really, she'll be quite all right, though it's very kind of you to enquire. And, no, of course she'll not move down to the Woolfonts, though it's very good of the Duke to offer; Wolverhampton is her home, and her friends are here....
Pauline, Fr. Paddick's late wife:
Pretty, witty, clever, devoted to Noel, and gone far too soon. She died in the last months of her first pregnancy, and the daughter they'd have had with her. But from the moment they met, and never mind the minor interruption of death, she made Noel what he is, and yet does so.
- The Lost Lenore: Absolutely. Loving her and losing her have between made Noel the man and the priest he is today.
- Love at First Sight: On both sides.
- Mixed Race: And no one said a disparaging word, either."Her mum was of a family mostly English now, but which had rooted itself in Wolvo when an Irish navvy had come over in search of work, and which had picked up a dash of Romanichal blood in the next generation after. Her father was partly Afro-Caribbean by descent, and accordingly racially-mixed. This collision of genes had left her the prettiest girl in school, all curls and caramel: the prettiest, indeed, Noel had ever seen.
"But it had been the beauty of her soul that had opened his eyes to her, when she, the prettiest and most likeable of the girls in their year, had approached him him: he still couldn't quite credit it the shy and quiet lad from Bilston, and first made friends with him before ever romance and desire came into the picture. They were friends, first and foremost and always, to the last day."
- It's lampshaded that she knew, though Noel was too naive to know, that this fact in itself assuaged some right-on resistance to his becoming and being a theologically conservative Anglo-Catholic clergyman.
- The Social Expert: Smoothed Noel's way many a time (as a former Ill Child, he had uncertainties and had to work for his social skills); and everyone adored her."She'd made a bishop, an archdeacon, a dean, and the rector, collapse in joyous and congratulatory laughter when she'd come to him, there on the lawn at a fête, with her phone in hand, and told him he'd best look out a stable with a comfy manger, because the doctors'd just rung to confirm that they were going to have a Christmas child. (Noel thought hoped they'd laughed, his superiors, only in joy with them, and not because he'd fainted dead away. Pauline had always sworn, with a worrying twinkle in her eye, that they'd not laughed at him for that. She'd always refused, grinning, to say whether she had done.)"
The Parish Staff in the Woolfonts
Because priests want supporting. Organists, wardens, secretary, sidesmen, sextons, and the Parochial Church Council. (Some of these, having other primary roles e.g., the Duke, patron of the livings and churchwarden listed elsewhere.)
Those not yet meriting full entries include Margaret Jesse and Robert Portnall of the Joint PCC, who put out the parish magazine; the choir directors at Crucis and Magna, Rob Goodfellow and Alice Street; Mrs. Hart-Macey, one of the Magna churchwardens; and the ringers not otherwise given entries in other capacities: George Cull, garage proprietor; Will Short, chemist; Bert Baker, manager of the farm equipment dealers'; and bank manager Frank Targett.
(Mrs.) Rose James, housekeeper to the Rector:
Wolfdown-trained, motherly, and kindly housekeeper imposed upon the humble Rector by the Duke and immediately found indispensable.
- Best Friend: To the Wolfdown Cook, Mrs. Woolley although on a Last-Name Basis with honorifics and to Mrs. Viney the ducal Housekeeper (ditto).
- Kindly Housekeeper: A "wren-like widow now and a motherly little body all her days," she exults in being able to mother Noel (and Sher when he stops for two meals in three), even after their actual mums come to live in the Woolfonts.
- Last-Name Basis: Subverted. Although housekeepers are always "Mrs." Rose James, being retired from ducal service, is always simply Rose James unless being directly addressed ex officio.
- Matron Chaperone: Subverted and played with. Her presence as a protection against scandal and gossip (and, as speculated by several characters In-Universe, possibly their own giving way) is invaluable in allowing Sher and Noel to take breakfasts and dinners and tea together as a Chastity Couple who remain chaste and are known to remain so.
- Old Retainer: She was Wolfdown-trained, after all.
- Supreme Chef: Teddy keeps trying to wheedle the secret of her liver and bacon out of her.
Gregory Snook, Sexton:
Sexton until late in Evensong of the most useless, snarling, beer-soaked, ill-tempered, slovenly, and lead-swinging sort. Not even his niece Betty, the jobbing gardener, can put up with him. Regularly barred from every pub in the District. Got and kept his job as long as he did keep it only because he'd served in Korea, as had the previous Duke, though had the old Brigadier ever commanded Snook, he'd have had him before a court-martial in five minutes.
- Child Hater: The next to last straw for Father Paddick."The Rector didn't at all like having Snook on the mat, or enjoy delivering a rocket; he was equally indisposed to evading his plain duty.
"'Children can be very vexing, I agree: because, as children, they are literally rather thoughtless: they don't think what they're doing. All the same, and particularly as sexton, you mustn't shout at them, let alone wave a threatening scythe. It's morally wrong; it brings discredit upon the Church; it is the sort of thing you're fortunate to have me to deal with regarding, rather than Sergeant Alice and the constables. And the churchyard is the churchyard: one of the precincts of Heaven. Remember, please, what Our Lord said: "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" Matthew, the Nineteenth Chapter, the fourteenth verse.'
"Snook muttered a half-apology and an extremely unlikely promise of amendment, and skulked, sulking, out."
- The Clan: His niece daughter of his youngest brother, and, generationally, more like a granddaughter in age, is the jobbing gardener Betty Snook, who is everything he isn't. And there are plenty more Snooks in the parish churchyard, and have been since the start of surnames.
- Crusty Caretaker: At best, and a very unpleasant version, too.
- Death by Racism: Subverted (so far). He is sacked, and then pensioned off when well, see O.O.C. Is Serious Business, below. He's in the care home now.
- Last-Name Basis: Without the honorific.
- Lazy Bum: Utterly.The Rector, giving him his last warning: "'One does not like to let an old servant go, Snook, however useless he be or have always been. One does not like to I speak frankly here only out of duty, and much against my inclination give over a, to be quite frank, charity case occupying a sinecure.'"
- Misplaced Retribution: Before his collapse but after his sacking, he tries to sue the Rector under the employment laws. And actually imagines that what he's doing is a Who's Laughing Now? scenario. Worse yet, his Amoral Attorney decides to spice it up with a theory that he was fired because Snook knew something scandalous about Noel and Sher.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: He's a nasty piece of work, and it finally gets him fired / sacked (and slapped by his niece for the same underlying cause). But when he starts ranting about Sher and the Rector and becomes overtly racist, Dr. Witchard insists he be taken to (the) hospital before Sergeant Fay charges him; and in fact it is a symptom of organic illness speeding the overt onset of senile dementia.Dr. Emily Witchard to Police Sergeant Alice Fay: "'My point is this, that, in my medical judgement, there is suspicion of organic trouble here which should mean he is not responsible.'"
- RacistGrandma: Subverted in that he becomes an explicit racist due to a swift slide into senility. It's not played for comedy, either, either way.
- The Resenter: He hates Lord Crispin. Which, fine, so does Lady Crispin, but Snook wishes him dead to his face in front of the Rector and two churchwardens. Which terminates his employment. Which leads him to blame and resent the Rector....
- Weirder Than Usual: The village ought probably to have become suspicious earlier than they did. But Snook's just so ghastly at his best...."All the same, Trulock the Vet, passing by Crucis churchyard on his way back from a call to an outlying farm, was at once amused and contemptuous to see Old Snook addressing, with evident outrage and, surely, a deal of profane swearing, an old headstone.
"'Probably broke a tool on it,' said he to himself; 'although that'd be a fine thing, Snook actually doing a hand's turn of work.' And he put the matter from his mind, it being occupied with ovine medicine, from obstetrics to prophylaxes against foot-rot, just then, and engaged in the precise opposite of wool-gathering."
Robert Timmins ("Bob" to all):
Cousin to the Rector; brought down from Wolvo by the Duke to act as curator of the Bert and Betty Carpenter Memorial Gardens and cottage museum, and drafted in to act as acting sexton by making him a sidesman, putting him on a committee to look after the fabric, and making the committee to understand that there was no hurry in getting a new sexton.
- Crusty Caretaker: Averted and stood on its head. He's a dear.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Who's "Robert?"
- Perpetual Smiler: A relentlessly cheerful man. (Oh, the contrast to Snook....)
- Working-Class Hero: Botany degree? Bletherin', all bletherin'. Now, here's how you do grow a rose, cocker, me old gran taught me that when Ah were a babby.... (The Duke didn't have the Joint PCC hire Bob as sexton directly only because the middle classes, unlike the Duke, would faint at the thought that the mere sexton was the (''ex officio" gentleman) Rector's cousin. It's a class thing.)
Elizabeth Snook (although it's always "Betty," love):
Cheery if somewhat punk gardening expert, and long-suffering niece to the appalling Snook.
Dr. Timothy Campion BA MA MSt DMus FRCO, Music and Choir Director, Master of Music, and Organist to the Combined Benefice:
Jocund, plump composer and organist, late of St Peter's Wolvo: "a man made for merriment;" married to the jolly Charmian and father of Cressida, Piers, and Nigel (Nigel being the most reliable of the trebles in the church choir). Second-best organist in the West Country. (The best cannot very well act as a C of E church organist. Sher is, after all, a devout Muslim....)
- Benevolent Boss: The choristers find him a breath of fresh air even as he keeps them up to their King's College standard.
- Best Friend: With Sher.
- Big Fun: Er. Yes.
- The Clan: Elder brother to the Fr. Paul Campion, and The Patriarch of his own clan.
- The Confidant: To Sher.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Evidently. Three children already.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Averted. He makes service music fun.
- Perpetual Smiler: He has trouble at funerals: he can't help being cheerful through anything.
The RCs, Nonconformists, and Others
Because the national church is not the same thing as the church of the nation.
The Revd Monsignor Timothy Folan, Our Lady & S Edith of Wilton (RC) (Beechbourne):
The Breener's old Downside schoolmate, now occupying the memetically ugly Victorian brick presbytery in Beechbourne. Ginger, fubsy, kindly, untidy, unassuming, rather Boris-Johnsony in looks and, as The Breener says, "Socrates in a Roman collar." Parish priest to a parish of considerable extent on a map (the Duke, who has no taste for InterfaithSmoothies but is smoothly ecumenical in his philanthropy, gave him as well as the other non-Anglican clergy a Range Rover shooting-brake at the same time he gave a few to the C of E parish); but a parish in which even Raised Catholic sorts, let alone the non-lapsed, are thin on the ground (the Agninis, The Breener, a few old recusant families, some established British Polish families of the 1939 vintage, and a handful of Continentals). A Beechbourne native, and well up on all the local news and what's not news. Do not mistake his loving-kindness for weakness.
- Belief Makes You Stupid: Averted. Though some characters will persist in making that mistake. (If they were Genre Savvy, they'd remember their Father Brown)."On matters of principle, one did not, if one were wise, attempt to do anything more with the C of E Rector not when Noel was being rather Father Paddick SSC than friend Noel or with The Breener's own Mgr Folan, than to leave them strictly alone and walk warily about them at some distance."
- Brilliant, but Lazy: The Breener claims Tim Folan was this in their school days. He isn't nowadays, that's certain.
- Fiery Redhead: Averted. He's not much inclined to fire. Or indeed brimstone.
- Good Shepherd: And willing to help strays from other flocks, and fellow shepherds. But see Interfaith Smoothie, below.
- Interfaith Smoothie: Averted. Not on his watch. Ecumenical joint efforts in practical charity, yes; diluting the Magisterium? He'll hear your confession now and impose penance for your having even thought about it.
- Irishman and a Jew: He and Sir Ben Salmon before Ben died; now, he and Lew (and Melanie) Salmon. They can always be counted on to be working for some good end in the community.
- Irish Priest: Subverted. He's Irish by ancestry and is a TCD man, but his people have lived in Beechbourne for nigh on two centuries now.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: He's an exorcist when (reluctantly) so called upon by his bishop; he very much does not see malefic influences in everything or credit without extraordinary proof the least suggestion of demonic or paranormal activity."'Well,' said Mgr Folan. 'There may have been some psychotropic or hallucinogenic nasties spread on that knife....' [snip] 'The souls of men, when they have died [ ] do not cannot hang about (and why would they, you know, why would they?) and play charades with the living. That's a simple theological fact."
- One Steve Limit: Averted. There are a fair few Timothys about (including the C of E parish choir director).
- Raised Catholic: Well, obviously, he was, in the literal sense; but his primary challenge isn't the parishioners who, like him, remained so without lapse (e.g., the Agninis and The Breener), but all the semi-lapsed, Christmas-and-Easter ones, and the cultural ones. His parish is geographically large and demographically tiny, and he is concerned to prevent any further falling-away.
- Seen It All: He's an RC priest, a monsignor as a Chaplain to the Pope (appointed pre-Francis), one of the diocesan exorcists, a canon lawyer (which may be worse than dealing with exorcisms), and hears confessions every day. He's seen and heard it all.
- Smarter Than You Look: Even people too clever not to know Good Is Not Dumb think Mgr Folan too sweet to be quite as razor-sharp as he is. (The Breener suspects it's Obfuscating Stupidity on the padre's part).
- Smart People Know Latin: And use it as often as their bishops allow.
Dr Mohammed Jettou, Imam, Trowbridge masjid:
A sort of French-speaking, Maghrebi Mgr Folan. Married to a chic, soignée, Francophone wife, an academic lawyer who lectures on the law of armed conflict at Shrivenham; In-Universe imam of the (Real Life) mostly Maghrebi Maliki masjid in Trowbridge. A fatherly wee man who worries a good deal for Sher, and is hand in glove with Noel except when the youths of his congregation play the Woolfonts Church Lads on the pitch, of course. Is somewhat bewildered by the British, and particularly le cricket. Is thankful that Noel and the Duke both speak French, though his English is excellent. Great friends with Lew and Melanie Salmon.
- Best Friend: To Noel (jokingly "M l'Abbé" and "Père Noël" to him). And to Sher, about whom he frets in a fatherly sort of way. And vice-versa: Noel once put him up at the Rectory when he took a chill on the touchline of a match between the Church Lads and the masjid football side.
- Fish out of Water: The UK never ceases to befuddle him, despite all his cleverness.
- Good Shepherd: Very much so, and a highly conscientious one.
- Interfaith Smoothie: Averted. In fact, it's lampshaded that there's not even an interdenominational one (to speak loosely): it's the only mosque within miles, and Sher and his family are welcome and accommodated there, but it remains a Maliki congregation of British Maghrebis with a few unexpected British Pakistani Hanfis attending it.
- Narrative Profanity Filter: He is recorded as having said a few unspecified but rather stark things in several languages when there was a slander campaign against Sher.
- Omniglot: Necessarily. Classical Arabic is a must (he is, after all, the imam), and Standard Literary Arabic; naturally he speaks the various dialects of Western or Maghrebi Darija; and then there's Riffian Berber; French; and English.
- Poirot Speak: Of the Blunt Metaphors Trauma variety, on occasion. You try keeping all these languages straight in your head.
Mme Professeure-Maîtresse Farida Jettou, Doctoresse en droit:
Academic lawyer, chic as the 7th arrondissement, with a double degree from Cambridge and Caen and the ijazat attadris; wife to Dr Jettou the imam. Understands perfectly well precisely what she says: to wit, that, in the UK:
- Army of Lawyers: Contemplates mobilizing one when Sher is slandered. Waiting on divine punishment for the offenders takes too long....
- But Not Too Foreign: Subverted, and doubly. She is of French Maghrebi background; but what everyone thinks of her is, simply, she's French and in the UK. She's Not British, but she is more than welcome as a guest.
- Deadpan Snarker: Of a Parisienne sort.To Sir Thomas Douty and the Salmons: "'M le duc, as we all know, is not given to giving help: he is given to munificence, absolute. If asked and we have long trembled at the prospect that he might do this unasked M de Taunton should, we are assured, create for us, and for the Salmons' co-religionists, buildings of the most expensive, expansive, and surpassing. This is why we do not ask; and why we are prepared to forbid. [ ] Push does nothing in this country; it is all pull. And M le duc he is like one of your church-tower bell-ringers, I think, and pulls many strings.'
Sir Tom Douty: "'Well,' smiled Sir Tom, 'at least, my dear lady, he knows the ropes.'"
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French / Everyone Looks Sexier If French: She does and she is. (This is one subconscious reason why she's more than welcome as a guest in the UK....)
- Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Played with. She's an academic lawyer who lectures on the laws of war and international law at JSSC Shrivenham and the Defence Academy.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have! / Stacy's Mom: French and chic. Yeah. Sher and Noel notice; Teddy notices; The Breener notices; the Duke notices.... Even Edmond notices. A definite case of Older Than They Look, too."'You must not feel yourself rebuked, child,' said Mme Dr Jettou. 'I speak as one old enough to be your mother '
"'You're nothing of the sort,' protested Sher, gallantly and guilelessly.
"She chortled. 'Ah, child, you are kind."
- Omniglot: But of course. Naturellement.
- Poirot Speak: Mais bien sûr. But of course.
- The Social Expert: Fortunately for her husband, who may be a Good Shepherd and an All-Loving Hero, but is wholly bewildered by people.
Patricia Mullin, Methodist Local Preacher:
Member of an appallingly ramified local family found at every stratum of society and in every imaginable religious denomination, she is not inclined to forego any chance to bring the Good News to all, and is dedicated to interdenominational and interfaith cooperation. A fixture of Remembrance Day ceremonies, representing the Nonconformists generally.