Thursday, 14 July 2011

Knighthood--The Oldest Dignity

Knighthood is the most ancient title of honour in the UK whose origins go back to before the Norman conquest and it is the oldest non-Royal title of honour. Today I attended the Annual Dedication Service of The Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor. The term Knight Bachelor goes back to Henry the third. With historical connotations of medieval chivalry I was somewhat surprised to find that the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor only goes back to 1908. Our own Sir Paul Judge is the Society's Registrar.
The Society has in perpetuity the use of a chapel in the crypt provided by the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's, now named the Knights' Chapel. It is a fine space. The service was formal full of ceremony and regalia. The sermon was given by The Rt Honourable Richard Chartres the Bishop of London. He started by musing on powerful rulers in history who claimed divine status and came on to the biblical reference of Christ's: ''render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar's and unto God those that are God's. A message in humility for the Knights perhaps. He then segued into the 400th anniversary of the King James bible and the huge influence this had on the Western world. The beauty of the language and the underpinning morality are acknowledged even by Dawkins he said. He then referred to Clemence Attlee's famous comment that he loved the ethics of the bible but didn't care for the associated mumbo jumbo. But where would the ethics be without the supporting mumbo jumbo asked the Bishop. A question to ponder.

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