Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.
I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.
Thinking of visiting Oxford?
Allow me to be your guide... and discover the history of Oxford with an Oxford historian.
I offer a wide range of guided walks around the city and university. These can be a general introduction to the history and architecture or looking at specific themes and subjects.
I am a Catholic and a historian based in Oxford, where I am a member of Oriel College. My research, for a long delayed D.Phil., is a study of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln in the second decade of the fifteenth century. I also work as a freelance tutor in History and as an independent tour guide.
I was received into the Church in 2005 and am a Brother of the External Oratory of St Philip Neri at the Oxford Oratory.
Today I travelled with a friend who, as a regular worshipped there, makes the journey most Sundays to Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the church of St William of York in Reading. We had an easy journey by train and bus from Oxford to Reading and on to the church.
St William of York was built in 1909, and designed to be enlarged if need arose. The modern extension is to a different plan and the Edwardian intention is still clear.
Today it is a part of a diocesan parish, and also used by the University chaplaincy, the FSSP and the Ordinariate.
We were going to the FSSP 11am Mass for Septuagesima in the Extraordinary Form, the 1962 Missal being their essential Rite. Their website can be seen a Facebook page accessible to all which can be viewed at https://m.facebook.com/fssp.england
The Fraternity celebrant was Fr Matthew Goddard.
As we had arrived early I had a good view of the Altar's transformation from its novus ordo style to a more traditional one, as the additional altar cloths were put on, then a violet frontal and finally the very handsome crucifix and set of six candles.
For the celebration of the Mass Fr Goddard had a particularly handsome Roman chasuble and matching stole and chalice veil in violet fabric with gold and blue decoration, which looked quite new.
The Mass was entirely traditional, beginning with the Asperges and with the Second ( Third ) Confiteor before Communion.
There was an excellent team of young servers and the choir in the west gallery sang the Propers.
All in all this was a prayerful and beautiful liturgy, one that was eloquent of 'otherness' and sacrifice, one that was thoughtful and serious. There was a good congregation, with a good number of children in addition to the servers.
Afterwards we went with another friend who sings in the choir at these FSSP Sunday Masses for lunch at his flat. This was an opportunity to see something of the converted country house in which he lives and to enjoy a series of tasty courses accompanied by fine wines.
After that it was back to Oxford for the three of us to go to Vespers at the Oratory.