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.
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.
This week is the Oxford Oratory's In(ter)dependence Appeal Week, concentrationg on Anglo-American links. It is, I think one may confidently say, going very well. The organisers are to be congratulated on their hard work in advance and the success of what has happened so far.
I was unable to attend the first event, last Saturday, a family day at The perch at Binsey, but I gather it was well supported and avery enjoyable event, with the Cajun band L'Angelus as the main performers. On Sunday the music at the Solemn Mass was by American composers, and the preacher Fr Joel Warden of the Brooklyn Oratory. Monday evening we had a splendid concert of music by the International Baroque Players and by Adam Brakel, the organist of West Palm Beach cathedral. In addition to fine music it was delightful on a summer evening to mix, Pimms in hand, with friends in the open space alongside the church.
Yesterday afternoon I led a group on a walk around medieval and Reformation Oxford. This was something I enjoyed, and so, I hope, did the members of the party. It was tantalising to have to hurry past so many places of interest with only a fleeting reference to what can be seen inside a college, or in the area behind a building, or without having the time to explain the intricacies of Oxford history. However I think I managed in two hours to cover five or so centuries with a degree of historical insight and some humour, as well as dodging the hazards of life in contemporary Oxford - pavements congested with tourists, scaffolding around historic monuments and the myriad of buses in the city centre.
Tonight we have a talk by Walter Hooper, a staunch member of the Ortaory congregation, about his memories of C.S.Lewis. Walter was Lewis' last secretary, and has been a leading figure on the interpretation of his work and legacy.
Tomorrow I am performing again - this time on Catholic and literary Oxford from Newman to the Inklings. So, if you are free tomorrow at 2pm, the Oratory is the place to be...