A White Christmas

From the diary of Rev Kilvert 1876, edited by William Plomer.

Very hard frost last night.  At Presteign the thermometer fell to 2 degrees, showing 30 degrees of frost.  At Monnington it fell to 4.  Last night is said to have been the coldest night for 100 years.  The windows of the house and Church were so thick with frost rime that we could not see out.  We could not look through the Church window all day.  Snow lay on the ground and the day was dark and gloomy with a murky sky.  A fair congregation considering the weather.   By Miss Newton’s desire we went to the cottage to eat our Christmas dinner at 1.30 immediately after service.

After the dinner I had to go back to the Church for the funeral of little Davie of Old Weston (the Shepherd’s son) who died on Monday.  It  was fixed for 2.15.  The weather was dreadful, the snow driving in blinding clouds and the walking tiresome.  Yet the funeral was only 20 minutes late.  The Welcome Home, as it chimed softly and slowly to greet the little pilgrim coming to his rest, sounded bleared and muffled through the thick snowy air.  The snow fell thickly all through the funeral service and at the service by the grave a kind woman offered her umbrella which a kind young fellow came and held it over my head.  The woman and man were Mrs Richards and William Jackson.  I asked the poor mourners to come in and rest and warm themselves but they would not and went into the Church.  The poor Father , David Davies the Shepherd, was crying bitterly for the loss of his little lamb.  Owing to the funeral it was rather late before we began the afternoon service.

There were very few people in Church besides the mourners.  The afternoon was very dark.  I was obliged to move close to the great south window to read the Lessons and could hardly see even then.  I preached from Luke ii. 7  .   ‘ There was no room for them at the inn’, and connected the little bed in the Churchyard in which we laid Davie to rest with the manger cradle in Bethlehem.