Hand to Hand

19th century engraving of Justin Martyr

19th century engraving of Justin Martyr

How far can you connect back in time?

Can you play ‘hand to hand’?

Here’s how to do it.

St Justin Martyr (c. 100-165, feast day June 1st) most probably learned from those who had learned from Jesus’ own disciples. We can imagine him shaking hands with a disciple of one of the twelve disciples.

Connections of this kind – hand to hand – can be fascinating and it’s surprising how quickly the years can be spanned.

As a boy I lived in a small village in Teesdale in County Durham. I remember visiting an elderly lady in the village, Miss Gowland,  who told me how, as a young girl she had had a great adventure. She had visited London to see the celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1897.

Another family story tells of my Great (Great) Uncle Douglass Mawston, who lived with his sister, my great grandmother, in the house where I was born, until his death in 1951. As a young farmer Uncle Douglass had a very elderly workman on the farm who as a boy had been at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Hand to Hand - a contribution from the then Dean of St Pauls in 1980

Hand to Hand – a Letter in The Times from the then Dean of St Pauls in 1980

Several years ago The Times had a series of letters encouraging a simple game under the title ‘Hand to Hand’ inspired by an article by the famous journalist Bernard Levin.

So join the game. It’s simple. Here is my first example: As a boy I shook hands with a lady who told me of seeing the celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1897. That takes me from today, in 2016 to 1897 in one handshake.

My other example, I shook hands with my mother, who shook hands with her uncle who had shaken hands with a man who had fought at Waterloo. From 2016 to 1815 in three handshakes…

What hand to hand have you – taking you back to an event or person in history?

You are welcome to share your ‘hand to hand’ through the comments below. Thank you.

Fr Ian


About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community where people of differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2364267899/
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3 Responses to Hand to Hand

  1. Sandra Palmer says:

    Not a handshake but a kiss. When I was two I was kissed by my Great – Uncle Greorge . I remember well the feel of his waxed moustache ticking me . He was kissed on the forehead by Queen Victoria after he sang a solo as a boy chorister at Windsor chapel. I am guessing that was about 1885. His memoirs record his embarassment and the ensuing teasing by other choristors.

  2. We’ve had several more responses:
    Canon Jeremy Pemberton noted:
    “My grandmother used to tell me of seeing the old Queen at her Diamond Jubilee in Brisol, and, as a small girl playing cricket with W G Grace on the lawn at her girlhood home in Iron Acton. Back to the 1890s.”

    Mike Overend, a friend of Fr Ian, remarks to him:
    “you and I were taught Hard Times by someone whose grandmother had seen Charles Dickens give one of his legendary public readings from Oliver Twist ..”

    Fr Chris Newlands joins in with:
    “In my first parish I was given some lovely teacups by a parishioner. They had belonged to his grandmother – he showed me a painting of her as a girl standing on the cliffs at Dover. She was looking very scared that “Nappy” would come across the Channel and kill everyone.”

  3. Here is a Hand to hand from Hursley, Winchester.
    An ‘old parishioner’ writing in 1904 about John Keble’s ministry at Hursley comments:

    “The writer knew an old lady born in 1792, who remembered in very early childhood being taken to see a very old man, who when a very little boy had held the gate open for Richard Cromwell (2nd Lord Protector of England d. 1712) to go to the Hursley Meeting House.”

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