The vicar's study

Hello. I’m going to ask you for some help over the next week or two if I may. As I have previously mentioned all being well a book of my cartoons will be coming out at the end of August. I am under a lot of pressure to get a lot of cartoons done in…

Hello. I’m going to ask you for some help over the next week or two if I may. As I have previously mentioned all being well a book of my cartoons will be coming out at the end of August. I am under a lot of pressure to get a lot of cartoons done in a short period of time. I am not complaining – no one else is putting pressure on me, it is just the situation as it is. I am not ashamed to admit that I often find the journey from initial idea to finished drawing a difficult one. I become stressed and anxious which in turn causes me to be less creative and often this spirals into a sense of panic far exceeding the reality of the situation.

I’m therefore going to ask you, if you would be so kind, to help me with some ideas on specific subjects taken from my ‘half-baked ideas’ file. A ‘Help Dave do his drawings’ season, if you will.

Today’s subject is ‘the vicar’s study’. If you are a vicar or other type of minister what do you see as you look around your study? If you have (for whatever reason) cause to visit a vicar or minister’s study what do you see there? Is there anything that gets stored in a vicar’s study for a length of time? Things that belong there or things that do not really belong there. Any answers, no matter how mundane, will be welcome. Long lists or single words are both splendid.

By posting you are allowing me to use anything you write in one of my drawings.

Many thanks in advance for your help.


  1. OK Curate’s study looks like this (probably a very good thing that curates get visited far less at home than their bosses)
    Computer and screen apparently floating in mid air, together with unspeakable jumble of papers…no sign of the desk which presumably lurks beneath.
    Filing cabinet covered with post-its saying things like “Mrs Blanks ashes Wednesday” and “find parachute for assembly”
    Wall covered with rotas, postcards from holy places and reminder about burgular alarm system
    Sofa covered by dogs
    Box of sand for alt worship, plus pebbles and job lot of tea lights
    Bubble machine (ditto)
    Youth group’s Pentecost reflections on flame shaped pieces of paper, not yet stuck to mounting paper
    Bookshelves. Clearly inadequate as double filled, and with books on most flat surfaces
    Dresser with assorted pictures, sacred and profane, and more books and bits of paper
    Overflowing wastepaper basket, into which sheets for youth service have just slowly overbalanced…must remember to rescue them before bin gets emptied
    Vase of dying flowers from grateful family
    Teddy bear propped against copy of Rublev’s Trinity
    Largeish wooden cross
    Empty ink cartridges from printer…to remind curate to re order
    Noah’s ark altar frontal for the family service
    Large poster created by toddler group “OUR GOD RESIGNS”
    Very little floor visible

    Sorry…way too much info. I’m seriously looking forward to the book 🙂

  2. Books ~(several hundered) some on shelves some stacked in boxes on the floor. 4 Computers (one firewallcontent filter, one web server, one desktop for use by BB and Sunday School, and my laptop on the desk open. Box full of paper, on the floor (mainly post I don’t know what to do with and by the time I look at it it is usually too late).Chairs (for meetings). Table, filing cabinet, 3 cupboards filled with stuff (mainly books) an aging silver plated lecturn, used as a book stand for the book I am reading. 2 Rather large speakers, patched into a cobbled up old amplifier which plugs into the laptop. A TV video combi for watching all those promotional films from the BMS and the BU. A screen hanging from the wall for those occasions my children visit my study and I borrow the projector from downstairs and let them watch a movie. 2 PAirs of curtains (waiting for when I decorate)… that’ll do for now.

  3. All vicars have friends who think it is extremely funny to give you innapropriate presents at Christmas. I have a collection that includes wind up plastic Jesus, a spark breathing nun, called Nunzilla, various buddhas and statues of hindu gods (the more violent the better), the compulsory “Jesus is coming soon, look busy” mug, tacky angels, plastic models of obscure saints and a home voodoo kit. Visiters don’t find them offensive as they can’t see them beneath the piles and piles of stuff I haven’t got round to yet because I’m too busy blogging.

  4. Amongst the paper casually stored on the floor ready for recycling can be found the vicar, also waiting for recycling.

    Desk, table, laptop, bluetooth, MP3, ipod, blackberry, is there no end to the list of non-human assistants available to the modern vicar? (What happened to the simple kettle?)

  5. My desk looks out on the garden. On the ledge I have photos of the children, flanked by the PC speakers and a pile of books I am reading or haven’t yet read. I am surrounded by computer equipment: keyboard, mouse, laser printer, screen, system unit, scanner, two inkjet printers. As the desk follows around the left hand wall under another window into an L-shape you will find all the things we are selling (or hope soon to sell) on eBay. There are many bookshelves, containing both books and my CD collection. One shelf contains maps, atlases, cassettes, and various specs cases and specs cleaning liquid. Another set of shelves groans under the weight of computer manuals, blank CDs and DVDs, photo paper, etc. I sit at a swivel chair. The only other chair is a rocking chair. There is a filing cabinet. My briefcase is under the desk. On top of it are phone directories and my camera gear. Towards the back of the room is my hi-fi system, which won’t fit in the living room and is out of use, because the children have damaged the woofers and tweeters. Is that enough to be getting on with?

  6. Big dusty tomes which probably haven’t been touched since training alongside small dogeared paperbacks which are obviously in constant use, a ringing phone (or two or three), the computer always on and usually expecting an email, a smile, comfy chairs with cushions, large boxes of tissues, half-drunk cups of tea …

  7. My only acquaintance with vicars’ studies is from Agatha Christie novels. Which gives me idea No. 1 (I only have one idea but am assuming more will occur to me).

    1. Film crew with director, director’s chair, lights, cameras and operators, actress playing corpse posed attractively on the floor near the desk, gun lying on carpet nearby. Director says, “That was a marvellous idea I had, asking the vicar’s wife for permission to film in the study.” Vicar standing in doorway looking bemused.

    Or, scene as above, vicar in doorway, calling out, “Dear, will you come into my study for a moment?”

    3. I got this idea of a vicar with children from the above mention of kids and woofers:

    Vicar in his study trying to work at his overflowing desk. Kids in room: 1 toddler bawling in a playpen, 1 reaching up to pull something off a shelf threatening to dump its contents on the floor, 1 sitting on floor tearing pieces off sheets of paper that have somehow gotten on floor and trying to stuff some into his mouth.

    Vicar’s wife in doorway dressed to go out, saying [something like], Isn’t it lucky, dear, that you planned to stay home today so I can get out to the sales?

    2. Vicar’s study looking like the excellent above descriptions. Vicar is moving one of the bookcases which seems to be a secret door into a secret room where a billiards table is seen. If his face is visible it would have a naughty grin on it.

  8. What do I see as I look around my study, hmmm…
    Shelves with lots (and lots…) of books – some in rows and some in random piles everywhere else. Cup of tea (in England mug of course!), phone, answer machine, computer and all the bits and leads that go with it, Bibles of various types dotted around the room, diary, loads of bits of paper with messages, phone numbers and random notes (there will probably be a lot of ‘randoms’ in this list!). On the shelves in front of the books are other random (told you) objects such as one of those football hooter canister things (!), a hand that holds a candle, cupped hands that hold a candle, a wooden group of people together that holds a candle, a teddy bear with a cross on his foot (one of those kind of presents previously mentioned), lots of card, paper, pens, making-stuff stuff, photos, more bits of paper stuck to the wall next to the desk, London A-Z, abandoned plate and knife from a late night sandwich, robes hanging on back of door, 3 desks and a filing cabinet, a cat, piles of papers, random books and boxes that are supposed to create order but aren’t just at the moment and a nice big chair to sit in – except I rarely do ‘cos it’s always covered in stuff!
    I’ll stop there shall I! About as far from the ‘Agatha Christie image’ that you can get I suspect.

  9. Pictures of various old trains on the wall, a neatly catalogued collection of slides of trains that the vicar has been on, a half finished track plan hurriedly hidden under a pile of scribbled sermon notes, the 1970’s equivalent of “New Testament Greek for Dummies” in the not so neatly catalogued collection of assorted religious books, the computer turned on to receive the run-by-run updates of the cricket, an ancient sofa covered with a cheap Ikea throw to try and disguise the fact that several parishioners are still stuck between the cushions having sat down incautiously during the worship planning committee when the vicar first moved in ten years ago and the vicar hiding behind the curtain so the person on the doorstep (usually wanting a fiver so he can visit his/her sick grandparent in Glasgow) can’t see that he is in.

    Now I really hope my Dad is far too busy to read this…

  10. About the only thought I have consistently when I go into my vicar’s study (which seems to be borne out by most of the comments above) is “I bet he hasn’t read all those books”.

  11. A big Bible burried under a pile of even bigger and fatter books that are referred to more often than the Bible. I can see a cartoon just in that.

  12. There seems to be a growing consistency in the growing list of comments. As I look round this Vicar’s Study I see lots of books (alkways commented on by visitors – the quantity of books that is). At the moment, one chair is covered with the remains (and makings for nexy week) of a ‘Pick-a-lolly’ stall (used today at the Fete worse than death). There is a guillotine (for chopping paper not heads). There is a large roll-top desk with lots of drawers and compartments. Beside the desk is a computer with printers nearby (one sitting on a filing cabinet. On the bookshelves are a variety of ‘tacky religiosities’ – a luminous Mary, a Saint Bernadette in a snowstorm, a bobbing head Jesus and Mary; there’s a violin, a multimeter, model aeroplanes (I was an engineer in the Royal Air Force) and various Beano characters in dodgem cars, and a charity money box in the 3d shape of a jelly baby. Under the sofa are the Yellow Pages, maps of churchyards, some vestments (in a box)and dust. There’s more but you get a picture…

    More importantly, out of the window you can see the open door to the Kings Arms pub – and I know that my cordless office phone works when you are sitting at the bar (I should explain that we live where mobile phones don’t work – rural Hampshire).

    Now, I must get back to my beer…

  13. Books books and more books (but how many of these are just to intimidate the casual visitor…?)

    Jumbled paperwork.

    A phone hidden somewhere under last weeks’ cat.

  14. Septuagent has a Mother’s Union banner pressed into his (unwilling) hands many years ago by the elderly wife of a retired clergyman with the words, “Please take this and look after it. I’d like you to have it” or similar.

  15. Bunting.

    I might add more later, but right now, bunting is what’s in the study at my local vicarage.

  16. “A” level stressed daughter lying on reclining chair, job adverts from church times lying on the floor, half finished faculty forms accompnaying them, 3 broken printers waiting to go to the tip, this mornings sermon waiting to be filed, a couple of old fosils ( good visual aids) folders of ancient parish mags, a white rabbit nobody else wanted from last weeks flower festival tombola, my framed priest ordination picture on the wall – ro remind me of what it is all about…..

  17. Random list of items as I look round my study (I am a Rector):
    lots of box files with titles like Misc Letters 1996 – 2001
    books stacked up in front of books
    a pottery chalice from Iona
    a colour photograph of Iona (faded)
    stacks of CD jewel cases
    cardboard rolls of unspecified plans
    stacks of telephone directories
    Crockford’s Clerical Directoris going back a long time
    a pebble brought back from the Sea of Galilee
    PCC minutes in a large pile on the floor
    two large bags of fliers collected at CRE (unopened) one from this year and one from the year before
    a crucifix
    a box of parish magazines
    a large box of unused pamphlets from the last fund-raising appeal
    a computer scanner buried under a huge pile of papaer
    several unspecified piles of paper on the floor
    two computer monitirs – one dead – in a cardboard box with an unused PC and keyboard sticking out too
    lots of old videos from mission agencies
    heavy-duty extension cable for vicarage garden parties
    large torch for going to lock the church at 3.30pm on December afternoons
    cupboard full of robes and old overcoats
    pictures on wall half-obscured by the piles of paper on top of bookcases
    a pile of old prayer-books and bibles donated by late parishioners relations

  18. All of the above AND…
    comfy chair for distressed souls to sit upon; posters in tubes bought from Holy Sites but never framed; Desmond Tutu doll; enough tea lights to open up another branch of Ikea; Holy Water from Knock; a shelf full of tat (including Answer Me Jesus, Nunzilla, wind up Buddha, glow in the dark rosary beads and BVMs, Jesus’ head made from lava with glittery crown and blue beard, Action jesus with posable arms and gliding action, Dashboard Jesus, lamp with light bulb containing glowing crucifix, pink fuzzy BVM piggy bank); teetering in-tray with jobs I don’t want to do like income tax return and hymn lists; teetering pile of mail which I walk past every time I go the Post Office; funny nun calendar; pin board with invitations to ordinations and licensings and amusing postcards; a pyx with a bit of reserved sacrament in it which an old lady spat out and I haven’t had the courage to consume it yet; and bookshelves without an inch of space upon them…
    and there’s more.

  19. I forgot to mention telephone with Caller Display unit next to it. Invaluable in ministry – lets you see who’s calling so you can be prepared. Or be out. (But that’s a secret, shhh.)

  20. A plastic chicken, a cardboard model of a gallows, a pair of those glasses with eyes that dangle on springs, a policeman’s helmet … and a photocopier.

  21. picture of john wesley on the wall, next to the daily sudoku calender (not filled in since 28th may!), papers waiting to be files, far too many books (including a big pile waiting to be studied stacked on the floor), all kinds of games…from board games to footballs and a kids plastic golf set, encouraging and funny cards in front of my desk, vacuum cleaner (its the only place it fits!), futon and pile of bedding from recent guest, los of plants in various stages of life/death, what was once a quiet prayer focal space now covered in books and a glass of water….

  22. In the vicars study is a wide selection of camels, mostly of the soft toy variety. A close second are pictures of all his grandchildren. A precariously positioned wireless network adapter has to be walked around to save the cable connection. In the curate’s is a large comfy sofa and a PC wth every whistle and bell imaginable. There is also a large telescope but what it is used for apart from holding the vicar scarves is a mystery. And in the youth pastors? A fridge full of water and pepsi max, a decent amp and set of speakers which connect to a beat up old pc.

    The best though is my father in laws study (he’s a vicar) which has a great lazeeboy, large TV and hidden beer stash.

    Hope this helps

  23. I once was visiting a Vicar who kept the cremated remains of church members (deceased, but you probably guessed that) in his study until the bronze grave markers could be cast. Sadly, I tripped over “Aunt Sue” on entering, who was in an urn in a box but remained relatively intact.

  24. [If you are ever running short on ideas, can I suggest you do a cartoon of how Cliff Richards’ otherwise catchy and pleasant tune ‘From a distance’ is REALLY bad (perhaps even semi-heretical) theology for which he should be drummed out of whatever (Baptist?) church he is currently attending?]

  25. One previous vicar, and avid cyclist, used to have a carved wooden statue of the Virgin Mary and Child stood on top of his desk. Having said that, he used to keep his bicycle clips hung around the baby Jesus…

    Another previous vicar had a shrine of a different sort. He owned 10 shares in a certain well known football club – and his framed share certificate had pride of place on his bookshelf, the first thing you saw as you walked into his study.

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