Next time you’re having a bad, day, a really bad day, console yourself with this…
He was what Dickens would have called a Scrooge, a miser of the first water. He lived in a large house on the south bank of the Thames near where the Golden Hinde now rests.
His name was John Overs. In the 12th century, he owned, and his servants operated, the ferry service across the span of the Thames that is now London Bridge. He became very rich and had a large house on the south bank.
He resented having to look after his servants and his extended family, despite his riches, and so, one day, he decided he would fake his own death and lie in his coffin, enjoying the sight of them all fasting in his honour.
To his horror, they didn’t…and began to feast and make merry at the passing of the old miser.
Furious at the turn of events, he carried out what Hoffnung would have described as “a loss of his presence of mind” and sat, up, screaming and frothing with rage.
One of his servants, quick of reaction, grabbed an old, broken oar, and with a single blow, thinking to ‘kill the Devil that had possessed the recently surrendered body’ smashed out his brains.
His daughter, Mary, an honest and long-suffering woman, sent for her betrothed lover, who, sadly, in his haste to claim his inheritance, fell from his horse and died on the highway.
Mary-now, presumably bewildered by the turn of events, was so overcome that she spent the inheritance on the founding of a convent, which she promptly entered, seldom to be seen in that perplexing world. The convent change its name many times before becoming the ‘Priory of St Mary over the Rie’; or St Mary Overie.
Today, it is better known as Southwark Cathedral, a splendid place to which I shall return in a forthcoming blog.
For now, I will finish with a final glimpse of John Overy, and his sad demise. When that bad day clutches at you, resist the urge to sit up and scream…