A while ago, in the context of talking about the 'Royal Wedding', some idiot calling himself the 'Dean of Westminster' referred to his church as the Parish Church of the Nation. I find it difficult to attach much meaning to that daft and pompous phrase. My suspicion is that the custom of having 'National Services' in the Abbey is - with the exception of Coronations - fairly (comparatively) modern. Royal weddings there are probably the most recent of such innovations. I suspect that the status of the Abbey may have received quite a lift when the Unknown Warrior, whoever he may be, was buried there.
In any case, it ought to be pointed out to the silly chap that in fact a great many National Services happen at S Paul's Cathedral, and always have. This happened even in the Old S Paul's; I believe, for example, that Henry VII's son Arthur was married there to Catharine of Aragon. Since Wren's rebuilding, the practical reasons for choosing S Paul's (ex.gr. for the burial of my Lord Nelson and of the Duke of Wellington and for 'Thanksgiving Services' after our periodic national military adventures) have greatly increased and are usually fairly obvious. And perhaps things go deeper than the merely practical: I have often thought that a good examination question would be:
Why are grandiose National Services so much more conveniently held in a Baroque architectural space that in a Gothic church?
In marking answers, I would mark highly those candidates who carefully analysed the differences between Baroque and Gothic concepts of worship.
By the way - going back to the Abbey - it is well to recall that the College of Heralds has long since, quite rightly and entirely legally, accepted the legitimacy of Ampleforth as the linear successor institution of the medieval Abbey of Westminster by allowing the community to bear and use the medieval arms of the Abbey. I think it is high time for the present irrational set-up at Westminster, Dean and all, daft or not, to be sent packing. In my view, the Abbot of Ampleforth and his familia should do a S-Nicolas-de-Chardonnet take-over at Westminster Abbey, and return it to its original purpose.
If they won't do it, well, it would make a good central London church for the Ordinariate.
Send in the heavies. A Fr Ed Tomlinson could lead the way.
A friend recently explained to me that some of my readers don't realise that there is fantasy and irony in some of the things I write. I find it hard to believe that people can be so dippy, but here is a formal disclaimer:
HEALTH WARNING: I DON'T ALWAYS MEAN EVERYTHING LITERALLY.
In a little while, I hope to say a little more about the status of Westminster Abbey.