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.
Yesterday I journeyed across country to Peterborough to attend the reception into the Church of two of my friends. Charles and Kate Miller are long-standing friends from Pusey House, and until last Sunday Charles was serving as the assistant curate at the Anglican parish church in Downham Market in Norfolk. However they have been preparing for a while to be received into the Catholic Church, and yesterday, accompanied by their three children, Joseph, Cecilia and Teresa, they were. It was a very happy, but also prayerful occasion, with two other former Puseyites acting as sponsors, and with two others of us in attendance. The Mass was celebrated by Mgr Philpot who had prepared them.
Afterwards we went on to the house they are leaving in Downham Market for a small celebration before I made my way back. There was a clear sense that for Charles and Kate this was both the end of a spiritual journey and also the beginning, but that at the same time it was all one journey.
Getting to the church in Peterborough demonstrated one thing I should have realised - to a Muslim taxi-driver one Christian church is indistinguishable from another if the passenger is not sure of the address, but rashly assumes that all taxi-drivers have "the knowledge." Now let's be fair - I would probably be the same with mosques. No, I wouldn't, actually, but you get my point. However with my second taxi driver I found the universal point of reference in our society - I told him which supermarket I was given to understand it was near. We were there in no time.
I will post some comments as a historian about Peterborough in the next few days.