St Mary the Virgin Church Poem

Posted on Jun 10, 2019

The original spire was hit by lightning in 1712, caught fire and damaged the church. The present spire was built in 1838 and the copper ball and weather vane from the older spire were placed at its pinnacle when it was rebuilt. When the ball and vane was taken down in 1930/31 for cleaning and repair, the ball was found to contain two pieces of parchment. One was a list of names. On the second was a ‘Song for the Ball’, which is as follows: A song for the Ball, the Brave Old Ball who hath stood on the Church spire long Here’s a health and renown to his old Copper Crown and his many supporters…There’s a gay smile plays when the Sun’s last rayson his broad and glittering headand the moon’s fair light on the tombstones whitecheers his gloomy abode with the dead.In the days of Yore long long beforeYou and I drew the breath of lifeHe hath often heard Steal the merry merry pealthat announces the Young Maiden a wife;and tales he could tell of the funeral knelland the tears that the friendless have shedwhen the greed sod press’d on the cold clay breastand the last rays of hope had fled.He saw the rare days when the old-fashioned waysdiffered widely to what they are now,when the proud boasted frame and England’s namewas unpressed on each warrior’s browNow might conquers right…… [illegible]reversed by a wise Legislation." the remainder had sadly perished by 1930 and could not be transcribed.It was written by R.W. Humphrey, November 1838. There are rumours that it was a drinking song in the local pubs of Town Malling at the time and rumours also that when the ball was taken down from the old spire and then put onto the new one, in the interim period it may have been used as something of a Punch Bowl at the Bear Inn by the tradesmen tasked with restoring it to the spire, and from which people would drink!  Rev’d David GreenVicar, St Mary-the-Virgin, West Mallingand Rector, St Michael & All Angels,...

Read More »

William Perfect (1731/2–1809)

Posted on Jun 1, 2019

William Perfect (1731/2–1809) was a physician specializing in the treatment of the insane, he was the son of the Revd William Perfect (d. 1757), from 1745 vicar of East Malling, Kent, and his wife, Sarah (d. 1769). He was probably born in Oxfordshire. In 1749 he was apprenticed to William Everred, a London surgeon. During his apprenticeship he attended lectures by Colin Mackenzie, a Scot specializing in obstetrics, and many years later published his correspondence with Mackenzie, relating to various difficult births at which he had assisted. Three editions of this, entitled Cases in Midwifery, appeared between 1781(?) and 1787. In 1754 Perfect was working in Dartford, probably as assistant to a surgeon, having married the previous year Elizabeth Shrimpton (1730/31–1764), descended from a Penn, Buckinghamshire, family. The Perfects moved permanently to West Malling, Kent, in 1756, where William took over an established practice in the High Street. On his wife’s early death in 1764 Perfect was left a widower with five children: Elizabeth, Sarah, William, Huntley, and George—a sixth, Daniel, had died shortly after his mother. One of his daughters married the artist Silvester Harding (1745×51–1809); George Perfect Harding was their son. Grief at the loss of Elizabeth seems to have resulted in Perfect’s becoming a freemason about 1765, and it was in freemasonry that he obtained his greatest social distinctions. He was promoted to the office of provincial grand orator in 1787, and eight years later became provincial grand master of the county of Kent, an office which he retained until his death. During the 1760s Perfect threw himself into what was becoming virtually a crusade throughout the country to eliminate smallpox through the introduction of inoculation. Working with another local doctor he undertook the general inoculation of whole parishes in Kent and elsewhere, and appears to have travelled widely for this purpose until about 1769. Perfect had already become interested in what was then termed lunacy, and now began to specialize in this, accommodating patients in his own house. Gentleness and common sense seem to have characterized his approach, whether dealing with women in childbirth or the insane. A keen believer in the value of advertising, he frequently publicized his medical services in the newspapers. An account of various mental afflictions which he had treated successfully, Methods of Cure, in some Particular Cases of Insanity, which was probably written originally for the purpose of advertisement and first published about 1778, was later expanded and, under various titles, including Annals of Insanity, had reached some seven editions by 1809. The book helped to establish his reputation in this field. Perfect obtained his MD from St Andrews University in 1783. Perfect’s lunatic asylum remained the principal private asylum in Kent for many years, although it does not appear to have been very large. On Perfect’s death his son George, who had worked alongside his father for some years,...

Read More »