Last Thursday I happened to be visiting Lord’s cricket ground. As I was a little early for my appointment I went for a stroll in the churchyard over the road from the Nursery End, and made a discovery that I feel may be of some significance.
In the churchyard, in fact right by the road, is the grave of Joanna Southcott. For anyone unfamiliar with this lady, the brief facts are these. Southcott was a visionary and prophetess,who believed herself to be the fulfilment of the prophecy in the Book of Revelation concerning a woman clothed with the sun. In 1814 she announced that she was to give birth (at the age of 64) to Shiloh – or the Messiah. In fact, she died that year without, apparently, giving birth at all. Although some of her prophecies were published in her lifetime, others were sealed in a box, with instructions that it should be opened in the presence of 24 Bishops of the Church of England at a time of national crisis. The whereabouts of the box is a matter of dispute – some maintain that it was opened in 1927 and found to contain a lottery ticket, a lacy nightcap and a horse-pistol. Others, however, maintain that the authentic box is in the keeping of the Panacea Society, in Bedford, awaiting the consent of 24 Bishops for it to be opened.
I cannot believe that the proximity of Southcott’s grave to Lord’s is a coincidence.
The plain facts are these. Lord’s was founded on its current site in 1814 – the year that Southcott predicted the coming of the Messiah. The early years of the MCC are shrouded in mystery, owing to all their records having been destroyed – conveniently, some might say – in a fire in 1825. I think we do have to ask ourselves whether it is likely that a small private club such as MCC could have exerted such a hold over the world of cricket for so long if there were not some higher power at work.
My theory is this. When Southcott predicted the birth of Shiloh she was not referring to a literal birth – she meant the birth of the MCC at Lord’s. I have consulted a learned authority on historical dialectology who has confirmed that the words MCC – if spoken in the thick Devon accent of the time – might well have been mistaken – by an audience ignorant of their meaning – for the word Messiah. And when she referred to the coming of the Lord – well it’s obvious.
So what was in the box and where is it? I think it’s quite clear that it was entrusted to the Committee of the MCC, and is probably kept in the so-called Holy of Holies – the Long Room at Lord’s. We may surmise that it certainly contained the Laws of Cricket, the MCC Coaching Manual and probably the original edition of Wisden (much earlier than previously thought).
Whether all of its contents have been revealed is hard to say. We know from the Panacea Society that ” crime and banditry, distress of nations and perplexity will increase until the Bishops open Joanna Southcott’s box“. For those that have eyes to see, this is plainly a reference to Lalit Modi and the Indian Premier League.
So this blog says to the current Secretary of the MCC – J.R.T. “Trout” Barclay – come on “Trout” – OPEN THE BOX!