The Parish Church of St James
St. James's Road, Hampton Hill, TW12 1DQ (Parish Office 020 8941 6003)
The Parish Church of St James

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The Verger

Verger

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The Latin virga, meaning twig or rod, gave the name for an official who carried the verge, mace, wand or rod of office before a member of the clergy or high-ranking dignitary in a cathedral or church procession. The verge was there to fend off anyone who might try to molest the dignitary. In former times, a verger might have used his verge to keep back animals or an overenthusiastic crowd from the people he was escorting or even to discipline unruly choristers. The liturgical role of the verger is an ancient one, dating back to the Middle Ages when most churches had one.

A verger is a church official, usually a layman, who assists in the ordering of religious services, acting as caretaker, usher, and general attendant. During the service itself, a verger's main duty is ceremonially to precede the clergy as they move about the church. Their main job is to remain inconspicuousness, playing a very important role behind the scenes, by helping plan the logistical details and guiding the clergy through it discreetly. As well as processions, vergers were historically responsible for the order and upkeep of the house of worship, including the care of the church buildings, its furnishings, vestments and sacred relics, preparations for liturgy, conduct of the laity and grave-digging.

A verger normally wears a cassock, and gown. A gown may have velvet or other trimmings, and the verger might wear an academic hood. Other vesture might be white gloves, and a hat.

In 1932 the Church of England Guild of Vergers was founded as a professional body to help and assist with training vergers, and to encourage people to enter into verging as a calling. Its presidents are the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Guild members wear the badge of the Guild on their gown. See below.

St. James's occasionally has a verger in services other than Holy Communion such as Choral Evensong and the Christmas Carol Service.

Badge

Guild of vergers badge

Hat Gloves Wand

Wand, hat and gloves

Top of the Wand

Top of the wand


The Historical Background to St. James's Vergers

Mr. William Chandler was verger and sexton from the time the church was opened until his death in 1900 at the age of eighty-one. He dug one thousand graves during his term of office, attended the same number of funerals and was never absent from his duty at the church. The community collected £8 and erected a tombstone in his memory. His successor was Mr. Charles Hallt, whose other occupation was that of local chimney sweep. The church still had both a verger and a sexton until well into the 1930s. In 2009 one of the servers also acted as verger for certain special services like Evensong and the Carol Service.


Further Information
Contacts
Contact the The Vicar 020 8979 2069

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