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.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Newman Pilgrims from Brighton

Yesterday I spent a most agreeable day showing a group of pilgrims from St Mary Magdalen's Brighton around Newman's Oxford. They were led by my very good friend Andrew Wagstaff. They being a group of five meant that we could make our way in a leisurely and discursive way around the city, looking not only at places associated with Newman but at other places of Catholic interest.

So we took in the home of the first Anglican nun, Marion Hughes - who made her profession to Dr Pusey in 1841 with the support of Newman - before crossing the proposed site for Newman's Oratory in Oxford of the 1860s, which eventually became Wellington Square, on our way to visit the Oratory and showing them the restoration work that has been accomplished.

At Blackfriars, unexpectedly, we saw something of the Solemn Professions of Br Graham Hunt, a long-standing friend of mine and Br Gregory Pearson before looking at that wonderfully ironic tribute to the Oxford Movement, the Rev Charles Golightly' s Martyr's Memoral of 1841 and the site of the arrest of the Oxford Catholic Martyrs of 1589 on our way to Trinity College. After looking around Newman's undergraduate college we visited St Mary's where he was Vicar before looking at Oriel with it numerous reminders of his time as a Fellow there from 1822 to 1845.

making our way accross the city centre - never easy with the crowds on a Saturday - we had a very enjoyable lunch at an Italian restaurant, where the conversation flowed freely over theology, including the hypothetical state of the hypothetical souls of hypothetical aliens in outer space and its relationship to the Incarnation and how one ought to understand the Genesis Creation narratives in relation to faith, reason and scientific understanding, to our own conversion narratives, making humerous plans for the next career move of one of the party, and generally enjoying good fellowship.

This we continued with a visit to the Eagle and Child (The Bird and Baby) , famous as the Oxford pub frequented by C.S.Lewis, J.R.R.Tolkien and the Inklings, and where Andrew and I and other friends used to meet up regularly in our days at Pusey House.

We had hoped to show the visitors the Ordinariate in action at Holy Rood but time did not allow as they had a three hour journey back to Brighton. Nonetheless it was a thoroughly enjoyable visit, and with a real sense of making new friends.


Last Knight said...

Many thanks for a splendid tour, John. I know the men were all very impressed with your knowledge of Catholic Oxford. I can attest that they returned to Brighton much better informed, if none the wiser.

Aaron Saunderson-Cross said...

Thank-you for this John. It was certainly a splendid tour of Oxford and we did indeed leave better informed and in good cheer. I would highly recommend both your tour and the Brakspear to all good pilgrims!

Do hope to see you in Oxford again. A

Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

It was a pleasure to meet up with you all and to show you something - alas too little in the time available - of Oxford and its history.