There’s an engaging little story in January’s Funeral Service Journal describing the custom at Norwich Great Hospital, back in the medieval day, requiring those who had fallen into indigent, aged decrepitude (50+ female BBC presenters, for example) to bring with them, as their entry pass, a coffin. Not so different perhaps from today when you would be well advised to do just that were you unfortunate enough to be borne to Stafford Hospital, the sort of place that undertakers toast at Christmas parties.
But it turned out that the doddering ancients in Norwich Great Hospital thoughtlessly used their coffins as cupboards. Some of these coffins, when the time came to use them for their proper purpose, were found to be worn out. So the hospital changed the custom. Instead of a coffin, prospective entrants were required to bring £1 to pay for a shroud when their time came.
Roof boss at the Great Hospital, Norwich, depicting the Ascension. Dig the soles of Christ’s feet as he ascends.