Paxtonvic’s Blog

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Afternoon hassocks ( and swine ‘flu responses)

Lp hassocks

The splendid collection of hassocks at St James Church, Little Paxton made for the millenium – nearly ten years ago. I believe the name given to the craft work is called needlepoint. Different people crafted them and worked  to a variety of patterns.

Did you know that another name for a hassock is a tuffet?  And that there is definately a gap in internet sites about hassocks – even Wikipedia hasnt got much to say about these enduring items church furnishings.

But here is what there is:

” Tuffet, pouffe or hassock are all terms for a piece of furniture used as a footstool or low seat. [Old English hassuc matted grass]

It is distinguished from a stool by being completely covered in fabric so that no legs are visible. It is essentially a large hard cushion that may have an internal wooden frame to give it more rigidity. Wooden feet may be added to the base to give it stability.

The word hassock  has a  special association with churches, as it is used to describe the thick cushions employed by the congregation to kneel on while in prayer.

The names tuffet and hassock are both derived from English names for a small grassy hillock or clump of grass, in use since at least the sixteenth century.

A tuffet is also an English unit of capacity, equal to 2 pecks, or half a bushel.[3]

Another connotation of the word tuffet is the description of an inflatable landing area for precision accuracy parachute landings. Now – you didnt know that, did you??!

Local folk are very fond of the Little Paxton hassocks and often visitors will want to find the hassock that a relative made. Many are in memory of a loved one. They are usually displayed on the pew ledges and if and when we replace the pews with oak seats, there will be special ledges on the chairs so that the hassocks can still be displayed.

Not so many people now tend to actually kneel for prayer – but those who do still find  the hassock is a more comfortable way of kneeling. BUT there ars some churches who still have very old hassocks stuffed with all manner of old fabric and innerds that have seen better days and though beloved by mice really ought to be thrown out.

Miss muffet

By the way, Hassocks is also  place in West Sussex…

Soon be time to go to Diddington and take an evening communion – not expecting great numbers but it is always a peaceful and prayerful place to be. Recently Pam at Diddington has made a whole new set of pew cushions to make sitting on the pews a far more pleasant experience.

Would be interested to hear from any blog readers as to whether you think there should be any preventative measures taken when administering communion now that swine ‘flu is gaining ground – or should we just carry on as normal?

July 12, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I am of the opinion that we should, for now, be carrying on as usual. I suppose it could be mentioned prior to Communion that those with cold symptoms etc might refrain from drinking but I would like to think that that is normal practice for most folk anyway.

    Comment by Iona | July 12, 2009 | Reply

  2. Yo – thanks for commenting, Iona. Think a lot of folk agree with you on this one…

    Comment by paxtonvic | July 12, 2009 | Reply

  3. We rang the council last week for advice, and they recommended that we just give the bread at communion and not share a cup. We’ve not got to the point of doing that yet, but a couple of our folks went down with possible swine flu at the weekend.

    Comment by David Keen | July 13, 2009 | Reply

  4. Here is the offical C of E line:

    Comment by Peter Hagger | July 13, 2009 | Reply

  5. Thanks David Keen,
    I’m afraid only a council adviceline could come up with the reccommendation to ‘take the bread only and not share the cup’. I wouldn’t mind betting the spotty 18 year old that came up with this jem wouldn’t recognise “the eternal joy of Our Lord’s banquet” if it bit him on the arse.
    Get a grip people; as seekers of The Kingdom and untold Glories of our Eternal Home; what does it matter if we arrive there because of a bout of flu.
    Embrase the idea of the first five minutes of the life hearafter, being the most exciting happening our life will ever experience.
    Who the Hell believes in Death? (misguided Christians perhaps)

    Comment by Wingy | July 13, 2009 | Reply

  6. Wingy – to be fair to them, the person we spoke to at the council was their ‘civil contingencies planner’, co-ordinating the council response to swine flu across the whole area. And her advice mirrors that given by several Catholic dioceses.

    It’s how far you think churches have a duty of care to our congregations. Not sure if I’d be particularly thrilled if some of our folk ended up in hospital, or worse, because we’d neglected a few basic bits of hygiene.

    Comment by David Keen | July 13, 2009 | Reply

  7. Hi blog readers – thanks for all your comments.
    From my small part of the planet, what i do know is that there is currently a wide variety of response to this issue of whether we should take precautions or not. I have heard of:

    * One parish that suspended worship for one sunday when it hit the community
    * one parish where they are carrying on as usual
    * one parish where communion in one kind ( bread only) is being administered
    * one where it is being given by the priest dipping the wafer in wine and then dropping it into the hands of the communicant.

    The Church of England web-site includes a paper written by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds with guidelines for the administration of Holy Communion during a ‘flu pandemic:

    Its got some good advice. I do think those who handle the elements need to take extra care at the moment and the use of gel as a bare minimum is to be encouraged.
    I do appreciate all your comments and our reactions to it reflect our ambivalence to the ‘flu pandemic generally from
    ” If we are going to get it, let’s get on with it” to:
    “I’d rather avoid it if I can and take any measures to do so”

    Comment by paxtonvic | July 13, 2009 | Reply

  8. Always better to discuss issues whatever they are ane then make some sort of reasoned decison if need be.

    Comment by Peter Hagger | July 13, 2009 | Reply

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