DAVID ARNOLD: Unholy dogs were collared in church

Robert Thurston Hopkins (1884 – 1958) was a prolific writer.

His work included biographies of Oscar Wilde, H G Wells and Rudyard Kipling.

He was also very much an advocate of the attractions of the English countryside, particularly that of Sussex where his family lived.

One of his books, “Kipling’s Sussex Revisited”, contains the following information:

“Shepherds were allowed to bring their dogs into church up to the year 1800 – an odd instance of clerical dogmatism!

“It may be guessed that the dogs occasionally indulged in a general melee.

“The unpleasant duty of ejecting quarrelsome members of the canine congregation fell to the churchwarden and in many country churches iron dog-tongs once used to handle them are still preserved.

“The instrument was worked on the ‘lazy tongs’ principle; when the handles were brought forward smartly together the jointed folds shot out and the pugnacious dog was seized by the leg to be ignominiously dragged to the outer air.”