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.

Saturday 30 June 2012

Fr Hunwicke's first Mass for the Ordinariate

Earlier this evening I attended the first Mass Fr Hunwicke celebrated for the Oxford Ordinariate Group at the church of Holy Rood. As for his Ordination one again  friends had travelled a considerable distance to show their support. His homily was a fine example of  his skills as a scholarly preacher, combining theological and historical erudition with a leaven of humour as he explored and expounded the tradition of devotion to the Precious Blood on the eve of the month dedicated to it, and, indeed, onthe Vigil in the pre-1970 Calendar of the Feast of the Precious Blood.

As on Wednesday I gave thanks for Fr John's Ordination and for the many gifts he brings to the life of the Catholic Church, and I look forward to seeing them bear fruit in the local group and in the wider community of the Church.

An Anglican Permanent Deacon

Today I attended the Ordination as an Anglican Permanent Deacon of my good friend John Hanks, who is also, I believe, a regular reader of this blog. The Ordination was conducted by the Bishop of Ebbsfleet in that great symbol of Tractarian faith and practive in Oxford, the church of St Barnabas in Jericho.


The interior of St Barnabas.
Built by Thomas Combe and designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield, it was opened in 1869

Image: dailyinfo.co.uk
John is to serve as Deacon there and at St Thomas the Martyr - where I was once Churchwarden. In fact there were three of us former Wardens from St Thomas' who are now Catholics in the sizeable congregation , as well as the former priest-in-charge, Fr Hunwicke.
The liturgy was dignified and very much in the Catholic tradition and reminded us past Wardens of our own heritage as former Anglo-Catholics. It made me at least reflect on how similar both communities are, and encouraged me to pray that we shall all soon be one in faith and unity.
Following the service there was a splendid buffet reception at Worcester College and the chance to meet up with old friends from Pusey House and St Stephen's House here in Oxford and also from the Anglo-Catholic parishes in Reading. The approaching General Synod vote on women bishops was one topic which hung in the air and added some spice to the discussions.
A happy day and I send John my good wishes and prayers.

Friday 29 June 2012

The End of the Newman Society

Earlier this evening I was reliably informed that the Oxford University Newman Society has voted itself out of existence into union with CathSoc, the University Chaplaincy sponsored student group.

There is a history of the Society which can be read at the online article Oxford University Newman Society.

The Newman Society was founded in 1878 as the Catholic Club and in 1888 took its name with the consent of the Cardinal. As the account of its history shows it attracted many members over the years and is referred to in Brideshead Revisited.

I joined as a Life Member in, I think, 1994. Over the years I have attended Masses and dinners, as well as talks, and highlights have included Masses celebrated by Mgr Alfred Gilbey and by Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville, and, more recently, the visit of Cardinal Pell.

As a Society its fortunes have varied and, sad to say, it has not infrequently in recent years been riven by factions and personal conflicts. Such is student politics that at times it appeared to split into what might be termed the Officials, the Provisionals, the Continuity faction, etc, etc - indeed I could claim to still be an office holder of the Continuity faction - or, perhaps I should say, as we saw ourselves, like the Carthusians, never reformed, because never deformed.


The arms of Cardinal Newman, which were used by the Society.
 A panel from the windows in Oriel Hall.

Image: Lawrence Lew OP on Flickr

Pictures of Fr Hunwicke's Ordination and first EF Mass

Following on from my post yesterday about Fr Hunwicke's Ordination the New Liturgical Movement has two posts with photographs of , firstly, The Priestly Ordination of Fr. John Hunwicke and also from yesterday Fr. Hunwicke's EF Mass at the London Oratory .

Fr Tim Finigan's account of the Ordination, together with his reflections upon it, and also with photographs can be read at
Laying hands on Fr Hunwicke.

Thursday 28 June 2012

Assassination in Sarajevo

Today is the 98th anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdiand and his wife in Sarajevo in 1914. My posts from previous years can be read at Sarajevo remembered  and at  Sarajevo anniversary.  There is an online account of the background to the murder and the events of the day and the aftermath at Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria ...


The Archduke and Duchess set out on their last journey



Image: news.ca.msn.com

Image: mrgiovanello.wikispaces.com

Doubtless plans are already being made to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in two years time, but i do wonder how much attention will be paid to the the sarajevo assassination rather than the experience of war as visited upon the peoples of Europe and beyond. Not to do so would be to miss acrucial point - the assault by revolutionary nationalism upon the established order, and the unprecedented disaster that was unleashed. None of us today is unaffected by the actions of that morning in Sarajevo. Princip and his fellow students and other conspirators, blinded by their narrow nationalist prejudices, engaged in the ultimate in gesture politics - this could not be excused as dealing with a direct personal grievance or insult, but a naive, warped idealism that thought the assassination the Heir would  be a gesture for their cause.  We are still paying the price.

Next time someone says that we are not bound to beleive anyone is actually in Hell, just remind them of Gavrilo Princip - because, in my humble opinion, for what it's worth, if anyone is in, or bound for, Hell it must be Princip. The Last Judgement is deferred until the end of time so that the full consequences of individual's actions can be assessed - and i don't see the odious figure of Gavrilo Princip wriggling out of what he did, even with the forgiveness of his victim's children.

Fr Hunwicke's Ordination

Yesterday evening I attended the Ordination to the priesthood in the Catholic Church of my good friend John Hunwicke from the Ordinariate. The service was held at the Oxford Oratory and the ordination itself conducted by Bishop William Kenney, who referred in his homily to Fr Hunwicke's many years of priestly experience.

In the crowded sanctuary there were diocesan and Ordinariate clergy, the Provost of the Oxford Oratory, the Prior of Blackfriars and Fr Aidan Nicols from the Dominicans, Fr Tim Finigan and two Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer from the Orkneys.

The congregation included an Orthodox priest, family and friends from Oxford, including Fr Hunwicke's former churchwardens from St Thomas', now both in the Ordinariate, members of the Ordinariate and old friends from his days at Lancing - one former pupil, living on the south coast and unable to attend himself had summoned his parents from Birmingham to represent him.

Afterwards as I knelt to receive his First Blessing in the courtyard it was a great joy to be able to congratulate Fr Hunwicke and to say that he was now where he should be in the wider unity of the Catholic priesthood. I think there was widespread sense of gratitude that this long-delayed ordination had now occurred.

The reception afterwards was in the garden of St Benet's Hall, and an opportunity to catch up with old friends and reflect upon the number of us who, either individually or through the Ordinariate, have entered into full peace and communion in recent years.

There will, I am sure, be pictures available soon of the evening, and I will link to them once they are available.

Blogging difficulties

I am experiencing some difficulties blogging at the present time - the system I usually use is not supporting Blogger, so there may be some delay in getting up posts. However, when I have finished tearing out my hair and weeping and wailing over the machine, not to mention cursing, normal posting will be resumed as quickly as possible - I have not gone away!

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Archbishop Richard Fitzralph

I glean from posts by John Dillon and John Briggs on the Medieval Religion discussion group that today, 27 June, is, inter alia, the feast day, in the Church of Ireland, of Richard of Dundalk (d. 1360) - better known as Archbishop Richard Fitzralph of Armagh.

The life of him by Katherine Walsh from the Oxford DNB can be read here , and there is another online life here.

Born just before 1300 at Dundalk Richard Fitzralph) was educated in Oxford and in Paris and had a distinguished career as a theologian both at Oxford and in Papal Avignon. At the time of his provision to the see of Armagh in 1346 he was dean of Lichfield cathedral. Consecrated in 1347, Richard vigorously defended Armagh's primatial status against the claims of the see of Dublin, which received the support of the royal government based in that city, and as archbishop he instituted reform practices for the clergy of his province, gave socially pertinent sermons, continued his theological work, promoted the cult of St. Patrick, and became an opponant of the Franciscans and other mendicants, with whom he was still engaged in legal proceedings in Avignon at the time of his death there in 1360.

Richard's remains were returned to Ireland about a decade later and were laid to rest in Dundalk's church of St. Nicholas. A cult developed and petitions were made for his canonization. In England, Lollards who favoured some of Richard's theological positions also called him Saint. By the early sixteenth century Richard's cause had not made much headway in Rome - not least because he was deemed suspect as a precursor of later heretics such as Wyclif and Hus.

However in 1545, after the formal break with the Papacy, he was canonized by the then Archbishop of Armagh. George Dowdall, the Anglican Archbishop -there was already a split between rival Catholic and Anglican holders of the See  - summoned a Provincial Synod to Drogheda on 20 June 1545. There, after a procession to the High Cross and back, he canonised Richard. This is an interesting example of episcopal assertion of the claim to recognise sanctity in a time of religious upheaval and uncertainty.


Archbishop Richard FitzRalph

Image: The FitzRalph Society

The Papal cappa

Fr Tim has an interesting note on the Hermeneutic of Continuity which is of interest to those who have an interest in matters of Papal attire and ceremonial - well, let's be honest,that's all of us is n't it? His post Blessed Pius IX a bit of a modernist? is about the Papal cappa. 

Sunday 24 June 2012

St John the Baptist

Today is the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist.


St John the Baptist
El Greco, 1600

Saturday 23 June 2012

Requiem at Eynsham

As events have turned out I was able today to attend the requiem at Eynsham I posted about in Pontifical Requiem Mass at Eynsham next Saturday.

I arrived in good time and was able for the first time to explore Eynsham itself - a picturesque little town, which has some interesting buildings, the medieval parish church, a copy of the medieval market cross and a heritage trail to take visitors around the site of the abbey.

The Mass was very well attended, and filled the church of St Peter, which itself adjoins the monastic site. The church has its original, eastwards facing chancel of 1940 in romanesque style and then was turned when through 180 degrees when it was completed in the 1960s so that altar now stands at the western end of the building.

There were, not perhaps surprisingly, quite a few of the usual suspects from Oxford present at the Mass. The music reflected the lives of those whose bones were in our midst - Gregorian chant for the monks, Byrd's Mass in Four Parts for the recusants.

The clergy and congregation included Benedictines from Ampleforth and Belmont, and representitives of the Carmelites, Dominicans and Oratorians and also of the Sisters of the Child Jesus. Also present were some of the archaeologists and museum officers who worked on the site and on the finds, including the bones, which were enclosed in two coffins in front of the altar.

The remains comprised two sets. There were six young men from the medieval period who had been buried in the cloister and were presumed to have been monks and possibly priests.

There were also three others - two of them women - from the sixteenth or seventeenth century and which were found under the floor of the refectory. At that time the Catholic Stanley family owned the site, which became known as Abbey Park after the dissoluton. One of their servants was convicted in the seventeenth century for carrying out the secret burials of Catholics.

In his homily the Archbishop spoke of our unity in faith with those whose requiem we were attending, and of the impact of the Eucharist in their lives and those of all the faithful.

Following the Mass we all accompanied the coffins out to their burial in the churchyard, not far from where the recusant remains had been found.

The whole occasion was the inspiration of Fr Martin Flatman. the priest-in-charge of Eynsham, and his thoughts on the reburial can be read here.
He has prepared a new trail explaining the abbey site for visitors, and his church has reconstructions showing the medeival development of the abbey in the vestibule, as well as the Buck engraving of the ruins which I published in my previous post on the Eynsham. Looking at those pictures and at the absence of the abbey above ground other than as recycled building material one is once more struck by the terrible destructive force of what happened in the sixteenth century to not only buildings but to lives and to the practice of the faith.

I hope to get back to Eynsham soon to follow the walking trail and look further at this historic place.

St Etheldreda and Ely

Today being the feast day of St.Etheldreda or Æthelthryth gives me an excuse to post some pictures of the successor of her abbey and her shrine church, Ely cathedral 

It is, to my mind, a breathtaking, wondrous building. Not only does it have a splendid Norman west tower, nave and transepts and a fine early English presbytery, but even more impressive is the curvelinear Decorated  fourteenth century octagon and choir replacing those parts destroyed by the fall of the central tower in 1322, the glorious Lady Chapel, the widest vault ever achieved in medieval England, but still bearing the evident scars of sixteenth century Protestant vandalism, and the lantern of the west tower. Fourteenth century Ely must have been a wonderful place to be when such works were being planned and created. Ely cathedral is a building that stays in the mind long after one has journeyed back from its Fenland Isle.


The west tower with the Galilee porch on the left and the south-west transept on the right



The view across the octagon,
with the choir on the left and the south transept on the right


The interior of the lantern with its central boss of Christ blessing

Image: farm4.staticflickr


The interior of the Lady Chapel.
The modern statue of Our Lady over the altar is rather unfortunate, but the building itself is superb.


Thursday 21 June 2012

The Duke of Cambridge at thirty

Today has been the thirtieth birthday of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.


Image: answers.com

I recall very well the day of his birth, although I am not sure if seems in my mind to be more or less than thirty years ago in terms of my own perception.

Those thirty years have not always been easy ones for the Monarchy, and certainly cannot have always been easy ones for the Prince himself.

Nevertheless both he and the institution to which he is heir appear to be in very good form, and he embodies and, so far as can be seen, fulfills many hopes and expectations. I am very happy indeed to express my good wishes to him on this birthday and to give thanks for what he has already achieved and promises for the future.

St Aloysius Gonzaga

Today is the feast of St Aloysius Gonzaga, the Jesuit patron of the church of the Oxford Oratory.


St Aloysius Gonzaga

Image: Catholicism Pure and Simple blogspot

At the Solemn Mass this evening Fr Michael Holman S.J., Principal of Heythrop College preached. His theme was the continuing witness of what St Aloysius himself bore witness to in his brief life, and his compelling attraction as a model for life and fidelity to vocation.

My illustrated post from last year about St Aloysius can be read at St Aloysius Gonzaga.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

St Edmund Campion in the Thames valley

St Edmund Campion - or at least a relic of him - has been back in some of his old haunts in the Thames valley. Escorted by the Knights of St Columba the relic has been on its annual tour around churches culminating in a visit to the site of his martyrdom at Tyburn.


St Edmund Campion

Image: marysdowry productions

This morning it was at Holy Rood in Oxford for veneration following the morning Mass and on Sunday it will be at Lyford Grange, where the saint was arrested in July 1581, for a service at 3pm


Lyford Grange


There is an account from David Nash Ford of St Edmund's capture at Lyford here.

My post about the saint from his feast day last year can be read at St Edmund Campion.

Celebrating St Alban and his abbey

In the modern Roman Calendar today, June 20th, is assigned as the commemoration of St Alban. His traditional feast day is his dies natalis and falls on June 22nd. This was his day until recent decades when June 22 was designated the joint feast day of St John Fisher and St Thomas More. There is a suitable complementarity that the martyrdom of the Cardinal Bishop of Rochester occurred on the anniversary of the protomartyr of Britain, but I regret that St Alban was displaced and that St John and St Thomas were not given July 5, which is the anniversary of More's beheading.

Furthermore whereas SS John and Thomas are, quite appropriately, celebrated as a feast, St Alban is merely a commemoration. Given that he is protomartyr and his cult of such long standing observance it would surely be fitting that he too be celebrated by a feast rather than a memoria. This is something the Bishop's Conference might consider seeking to do. Today, I suspect, his day and veneration is more an Anglican observance - and indeed the cathedral at St Albans has done much to promote his cult in recent years, as I illustrated in my post St Alban last year.

In that I wrote of my great affection for the noble if battered building that houses his shrine. Built in part out of Roman brick, and which, somehow, survived the dissolution, the reformation and subsequent neglect and then an overly-enthusiastic restoration in the late nineteenth century, it has an appeal that is in part made up of its vulnerability and the very fact of its actual survival at all.The Abbey, now an Anglican cathedral, is a venerable and continuing place of pilgrimage - I recall reading the Epistle as a Wakefield Diocesan Pilgrimage there in my Anglican days, some twenty and more years ago, and it seemed a very long walk to the lectern in that historic nave on such an occasion.


The nave of St Albans cathedral.
The paintings of the Crucifixion were for side altars in the medieval period.
Image: findthe postcode.com

It is also a building of quite exceptional historical and architectural interest, full of surviving wonderful treasures of medieval art and liturgical practice.


Abbot Wallingford's late fifteenth century reredos to the High Altar. St Alban's shrine lies behind it.

Image: flickriver

The wall paintings, the reredos, the brass of Abbot Thomas de la Mare, the tombs of Duke Humphrey (Humfrey) of Gloucester are well known, but there are many others, less well known. Amongst these, and relevant to my previous post, are two splendid label-stop portraits of King Edward II and Queen Isabella, and, now, the rediscovered and re-interred bones of the father of Pope Adrian IV.
With all this and its remarkable history St Albans is very well worth visiting if you have not been there, and that can all be combined with seeking the intercession of St Alban.

St Alban pray for us

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Piers Gaveston

Today is the seven hundredth anniversary of the death, by decapitation, of Piers Gaveston on Blacklow Hill outside Warwick in 1312.

The connections of his death to the Oxford area are strong. He was seized from the rectory at Deddington, where he had been left under guard by the Earl of Pembroke, on the night of the 9-10 June, and taken for trial at Warwick by the Earl of Warwick. After his death his body rested for two years at Blackfriars in Oxford prior to its reburial at King's Langley.

There is an introduction to his life and death, and the historical debates about them, here.

The recent Oxford Dictionary of National Biography life by J.S.Hamilton, whose book on Gaveston was published in 1988, can be read here.

File:Gaveston Cornwall charter.jpg

The 1307 grant to Gaveston of the Earldom of Cornwall.
The arms are those of the King and below those of Piers and his wife Margaret de Clare, the King's neice (Or, three chevrons, gules).
The surrounding birds are Gaveston's eagle and the Cornish chough - still a badge of the Duchy of Cornwall.


There is no surviving contemporary portrait or indication of his appearance. One of earliest depictions, and it is in no way contemporary, is this one from the late fifteenth century Rous Roll showing Guy, Earl of Warwick (1272-1315) standing on Gaveston's corpse:



In preparing this post I came across the blog Edward II which has agreat deal of information about the reign, and which I am adding to the sidebar. Apart from a biography of Piers it also has posts such as this one Nineteen things you never knew about Piers Gaveston

There is also a blog devoted to Gaveston himself at Piers Gaveston, and I found an illustrated blog post about him which can be read here.

In contemporary Oxford there is, of course, the Piers Gaveston Society - about which you can read something here.

The Piers Gaveston Ball, usually held about this point of the end of Trinity Term is, well, fairly notorious. Watching those who are attending gathering in Oriel Square on a summer evening - now that is one of the sights of Oxford, and not one for the faint-hearted... A few years ago I used to invite friends around on the evening of the Piers Gaveston Ball to the splendid first-floor view offered by Oriel MCR of the goings-on in the square below. There were some pretty amazing costumes which were more (or less) being worn.

Monday 18 June 2012

Priestly Ordination of John Hunwicke - June 27th

As many regular readers will no doubt be aware my good friend John Hunwicke of the Ordinariate will be ordained as a priest on Wednesday June 27th at 7 pm in the Oxford Oratory by Bishop William Kenney.

I am sure many of John Hunwicke's friends will be there to support him on this occasion and to wish him well for his continuing ministry as both pastor and scholar.

John Hunwicke at his recent deaconing in Westminster Cathedral

Image: Fr Blake blog

Feast of Dedication of Birmingham Cathedral

Today is the feast of dedication of St Chad's Metropolitan Cathedral in Birmingham. Built in 1839-41 by A.W.N. Pugin, whose bicentenary is this year, it has served as the cathedral of the diocese since 1852 following the restoration of the hierarchy in 1850. Since 1941 it has had the status of a Minor Basilica - a dignity only held elsewhere in England now by Downside Abbey. There is an account of the cathedral here.


The interior of the cathedral

Image: farm5.staticflickr.com


The interior as designed by Pugin, complete with the Rood Screen - now at Holy Trinity Reading



The modern Archiepiscopal throne in the style of Pugin
Image: theanglo-catholic.com

Saturday 16 June 2012

Promoting the Prince of Wales

A friend alerted me to this news story about the promotion of the Prince of Wales to the ranks of Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal, and Marshal of the Royal Air Force. 

Not only is it reassuring to see appointments being made to the most senior ranks in the armed services of the Crown - such rank is no longer granted automatically to serving chiefs of staff - but it is appropriate to the Prince's position. By such a set of appointments the Queen has quietly emphasised the Prince's position as her heir apparent.

I was interested to read recently that in 1910 Kaiser Wilhelm II, resplendent in uniform as a British Field Marshal, at the funeral of King Edward VII noted that his cousin King George V was only in the uniform of a Major General, that being the rank he had hitherto held.

Of related interest to the roles played by members of the Royal familythere was an interesting profile of the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their particular place within it in yesterday's Daily Telegraph and which can be read here.

Pontifical Requiem Mass at Eynsham next Saturday

Next Saturday morning, June 23, at 11, a Requiem  Mass will be celebrated by the Archbishop of Birmingham in St Peter's Church at Eynsham in Oxfordshire. The Mass is being celebrated to mark the re-interment of nine sets of bones found in excavations on the site of Eynsham Abbey during excavations in the period 1989-92. Six are thought to be those of  Benedictine monks, and three to be those of Catholics who as recusants chose to be buried on the site in the later sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. Following the Mass there will be a lunch for those attending.

There is an introduction to the history of the abbey here with links to other sites. The 1907 VCH Oxfordshire vol II account of the history of the abbey is here  and there is a description of the site from VCH Oxfordshire  vol XII here.

We are fortunate to possess a drawing of 1687 showing the west front of the church, taken from inside the remains of the church:


This was the source for a print of the ruins produced by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck early in the eighteenth century:


 Using this visual evidence and the archaeological evidence  this reconstruction of the abbey has been produced:


There is a plan of the site and its evolution superimposed on an aerial photograph:


I am not sure if I can attend the Mass, but it seems to be not only a sacramental act but also a suitable historic commemoration of the abbey and its occupants.

The Battle of Stoke

Five and quarter centuries ago today what is usually now accounted the last battle of the Wars of Roses was fought at East Stoke near Newark in Nottinghamshire. There is a good account of the campaign and of the battle at the online article  Battle of Stoke Field.

This, with deaths or disappearnces of leading Yorkist figures such as John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln and Francis Viscount Lovell, and the capture of their pretender "King Edward VI" - Lambert Simnel - the first major threat to King Henry VII was defeated. Michael J. Bennett's life of Lambert Simnel in the new Oxford DNB can be read here.

Simnel himself may well have fared better with King Henry VII than he would had the Yorkists won and placed the real Earl of Warwick on the throne as King Edward VI, or had the Earl of Lincoln, who had briefly been recognised as heir by King Richard III in 1484-5, emerged as King John II. For King Henry it showed him as both merciful and also as being able to ridicule this attempt to dethrone him. Simnel appears to have progressed in royal service and lived well into the sixteenth century.   

Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be the younger of the Princes in the Tower and to be the second son of  King Edward IV with the title of King Richard IV,  fared less well, as, eventually did the real, and rather pathetic figure, Edward Earl of Warwick, both of whom were executed in 1499.

Both the Simnel and Warbeck impersonations, serious as they were at the time, do raise the question as to the likely fate of the imposter if the real claimant had secured the throne - rather as in Anthony Hope's adventure stories  The Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau.

Francis Viscount Lovell was aYorkist leader, of whom there are biographies by Rosemary Horrox from the Oxford DNB  here  and another online one hereand who was not seen alive again after the battle. At the time it appears to have been thought that he escaped to Scotland Thought he escaped to Scotland where he received a safe conduct in 1488.

As the Wikipedia article
points out Francis Bacon relates in his History of Henry VII that according to one report Lovell lived long after in a cave or vault. More than two centuries later, in 1708, the skeleton of a man was found in a secret chamber in the family mansion at Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire and it was supposed that Lovell had hidden himself there and died of starvation. Whilst this story has romantic and possibly tragic appeal , it seems unlikely to be true. Francis Lovell had hardly spent any time at Minster Lovell, being basically one of King Richard III's northern allies, and would not have a faithful servant there who would hide him for years. Furthermore the manor had been granted to Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford, King Henry VII 's uncle, and was therefore hardly an appropriate hiding place for Francis Lord Lovell.
In 1747 much of the house suffered demolition and it is now a ruin. The English Heritage website about the site at Minster Lovell can be seen here.

Reconstruction drawing of Minster Lovell Hall as it might have appeared in the 18th-century

Reconstruction drawing of Minster Lovell Hall prior to abandonment and demolition.

Image:© English Heritage

Friday 15 June 2012

Exploring Civil War Oxford in the rain

Yesterday I was booked to give a tour of the Oxford of King Charles I and the Civil War for a group of intending A-level students. It is some time since I gave a guided tour with this theme and it proved to be agood opportunity to revise and amplify it in the light of more reading and research. Despite the drizzle and then rain I think it worked well, although we eventually decided to cut it to a shorter length because of the rainfall.

Nevertheless it was possible to consider the court culture exemplified by Archbishop laud's Canterbury Quad at St John's, opened by the King in 1636 and to talk about the world that he and his courtiers inhabited. From that curtain raiser  we moved on to see where the King entered Oxford after Edgehill in October 1642, and similarly the site of the gateway by which he left in April 1646 to place himself in the hands of the Scots.

I outlined the defensive workks built to protect the city as the Royalsit capital, and emphasised my view that although it sounds romantic, for everyone, from the King downwards those years in Oxford  must have been frequently strained and uncomfortable. The city was in the forefront of the Royalist bid to take London, and they remained stuck here. For the other side the King the great prize for the Parliamentarians to take. As a result he had on occasion to be smuggled out of the city to protect him from capture.

Oxford itself suffered outbreaks of typhus and plague as well as aserious fire in on epart in the autumn of 1644. The colleges were taken over as provisional governmental offices or munitions stores, the Royalist part of Parliament met in the Bodleian - which famously pointed out to the King that even he could not borrow a book from it - and the colleges found themselves accomodating old members who moved in with families, retainers and troops. Batchelor dons found themselves much put out by such disturbances to their routine.

At Christ Church the places used by the King can still be seen and at Merton there is still the Queen's Room which was used by Queen Henrietta Maria during her stay in 1643-4. My own college of Oriel, then newly rebuilt, housed the Privy Council.

The weather prevented us going to look at the site of the Mint, which operated from early in 1643, and produced coins, using college plate amongst other donations and requisitions for bullion, such as those illustrated here. In addition to these there is the 1644 Oxford Crown - almost the only British coin to depict a city and a magnificent piece of numismatic art:




A slightly more worn example, actual size(?)


This was a tour which, I hope, fired the imagination of the students to learn more about the significance of such things as the Laudian porch of St Mary's or to imagine Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice living in the High, just below Carfax, or Rupert and the King playing tennis in a court whose remains survive within Oriel, and the sheer problems of living in an increasingly beleagured city under threat. It is easy to evoke the spirit of the times and of place - the buildings are one's lecture notes, and that is one of the pleasures of living in Oxford.

Monday 11 June 2012

Oxford Corpus Christi procession

Yesterday afternoon there was the Oxford Corpus Christ procession through the city centre. As has, it seems, become customary, I was once again a marshal, suitably equipped with a flourescent yellow overjacket - the Brotherhood of the Luminous Coat as a fellow Marshal described us.

Led by Bishop William Kenney the occasion drew, as usual, a large number of clergy and religious and laity to escort the Blessed Sacrament from the Oratory to Blackfriars, with a sermon from the Bishop, and on to the concluding rite of Benediction at the University Chaplaincy.


Image:Oxford Oratory

The Oxford Oratory website has an illustrated report at
Corpus Christi Procession 2012 which gives a good impression of the afternoon's progress.

The successful revival of apublic Corpus Christi procession in Oxford since 2000 shows that these things can be achieved, and become once again part of the devotional and public life of Catholics.

Saturday 9 June 2012

Marlowe's "Edward II"

Last night I went to see the Corpus Christi Owlets' production of Marlowe's "Edward II" in the fine auditorium which has been constructed in recent years within the college gardens. Not only was this an overdue opportunity to go to the theatre, but as a historian I am interested in the life and times of the King, the more so because he founded Oriel - indeed arguably its foundation is the one enduring success with which he can be credited.

The first printed edition of the play from 1594, the year after Marlowe's death.
Image: Wikipedia

Like Shakespeare in his History plays Marlowe compresses the action and simplifies the historical record, but that was and is adramatic necessity. In this production the adaptation had produced a taut text which maintained its pace and kept the attention

This was an excellent student production with minimal staging  - a throne and an heraldic banner beside it - and simple costumes, but which cleverly used the old stone walling which forms two sides of the auditorium stage. As a result the actors were free to display their skills with little to distract the eye.

The plays centres around the figure of King Edward and the drama requires his presence on stage for much of the action, and for the charcater to display a wide range of emotions. Indeed the play has been characterised as one in which a weak spoiled man finds his stature in his kingship. So a great deal rests on the actor playing the King. Alex Stutt rose to the challenge and gave a fine performance, from petulant princeling fawning over Gaveston to temporary triumph over Lancaster and Warwick, and then to the agonies of mind over abdication and the final vulnerable human being who somehow preserves something of his dignity in his degradation at Berkeley

Amongst the other actors Phoebe Hames as Queen Isabella showed the range the part requires of wronged wife and forceful opponant entangled with Mortimer and temporarily dominating the young King Edward III and Moritz Borrmann was a suitably suave and sinister Mortimer.

In my opinion it was an enjoyable and mentally stimulating evening. There are two, distinctly differing, reviews here - and that may say more about the nature of Oxford reviewers than anything else.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Corpus Christi - now and then

Today I have been observing the feast of Corpus Christi, but also looking forward to our celebration of it with the procession through central Oxford on Sunday afternoon.


Image: Wikipedia

At lunchtime I went to the Low Mass in the Extrordinary Form at the Oxford Oratory. This evening I attended another celebration, this time a Missa cantata with a procession, confined to the inside of the church because of the weather, at SS Gregory and Augustine in north Oxford.

Quite apart from its beauty as a feast, and it is one of which I am very fond indeed, Corpus Christi is also a feast which links in with my research on Bishop Fleming. Whilst was Rector of Boston in the years after 1408 he served, exceptionally both for a cleric and in its duration, for three successive years as head of the local Guild of Corpus Christi, and did so again in 1427 when he was Bishop of Lincoln. This must, I think, be seen as genuine commitment to the Guild and its work, and something which remained important to him as diocesan bishop and when he was seeking, uncuccessfully as it turned out, to establish a collegiate foundation in the parish church. Like other similar Corpus Christi Guilds that in Boston drew its membership from across a wide social spectrum and included local landowners from the region. The site of the now demolished Guild chapel adjoins the south porch and south aisle of St Botolph's in Boston.

Boston parish church

St Botolph's Boston.
The site of the Corpus Christi chapel is in the foreground on the left.  
Image: Copyright Norma Clare/Genuki

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Newman and St Athanasius

Earlier this evening I attended the annual Newman Lecture at oriel. This year it was delivered by Rev. Dr Benjamin King of the University of the South at Sewannee in Tennessee and was entitled "John Henry Newman and the Church Fathers: Writing Church History in the First Person". Dr King's book on Newman and the Alexandrian Fathers was published by OUP in 2009.

In his lecture he concentrated on the way in which Newman changed his presentation of St Athanasius between 1844, on the verge of his reception and 1879-81 when, as a Cardinal, he produced a new popular translation of Athanasius' Orations Against the Arians. This was, Dr King thought, very similar to modern computer techniques of using the options of cutting and pasting, word substitution and deletion.


Newman in the 1840s

Image: victorianweb.com

Although relatively minor in nature their effect and meaning was, in Dr King's interpretaion, considerably more significant, and indicated how Newman changed his ideas in the intervening years. Newman had, he thought, adapted phrases so as to suggest St Athanasius was in full conformity with a scholastic theology that was not to come fully into being until long after the fourth century. Furthermore he saw this as indicative of the influences and pressure on Newman himself over this period to follow the lines of the dominant scholasticism in the Church. It was rather as if this was a response to such criticisms as that of Manning in 1866 when he wrote, famously, of Newman's long-standing Oxford, Anglo-Catholic style, which Manning himself now despised.


Newman in the 1870s


At the end I was not sure in my own mind how much the changes effected by Newman in his later translations could be explained as being unconscious - more years reflection on the topic, or the result of thirty years exposure to Catholic ideas and practice. The extent to which this was a conscious adaptation was also I felt uncertain. Newman may perhaps have amended Athanasius to avoid the latter being faulted for not nuancing his ideas in conformity with the understanding of later centuries. Whether he nuanced his own understanding or presentaion of Athanasius to avoid similar doubts about his own position is interesting to reflect upon, but there appeared no clear indicators as to why he had made the changes he did.

Following the lecture there was a reception and the chance to catch up with old friends and make new acquaintances, all with a shared interest in Newman. 


Tuesday 5 June 2012

Jubilee celebrations - style and substance

The celebrations today in London to mark the Diamond Jubilee all appeared to go very well to this Oxford based television viewer - even the weather just about managed to behave until the conclusion.

Here are a few of my own reflections on today's ceremonial and images.

The form of today's events must refect the Queen's own choices - and may indeed reflect the fact that she and Prince Philip are ten years older.

Unlike the state ceremonial of a Coronation or the State Opening of Parliament Jubilees are not pre-determined in their form - Queen Victoria's two celebrations in 1887 and 1897 were significantly different from each other in charcter and location. In 1977 there were clear links to that of King George V in 1935 - even the commemorative stamps followed the same design - and a very similar format was followed in 2002. This Diamond Jubilee was organised in a rather different way.

The river pageant, a joyeuse entree by water meant that more could be done and seen by people, and afforded th eopportunity to send out more images. This was clearly seen to be the day for the male members of the Royal family to wear service dress and decorations. I rather regret they did not for the service today at St Pauls, as had been the case in 1935, 1977 and 2002.

Similarly I also rather regret the decision not to use the State Coach and other carriages for the journey to St Pauls, which we saw in 1977 and 2002 - but not in 1935. I doubt if this use of cars was conscious restraint as much as a practical decision concerned with the logistics of moving men and horses as well as historic vehicles. Nonetheless I think it did perhaps reduce the splendour of that part of the day.

It fell to the Heralds to provide ceremonial colour alongside the copes of the clergy and the robes of the Lord Mayor.The wearing of morning dress by the Princes made it a more subdued if elegant service - reminiscent of the services to mark the Queen and Prince Philip's wedding anniversary, and this may have been the idea - the service appeared more private and reflective than overtly celebratory.

The scene inside St Paul's Cathedral for the Jubilee thanksgiving service

Image: Daily Telegraph/ Murray Sanders/Daily Mail/PA Wire

The service itself was better than that in 2002 and it seemjed to me taht there were far clearer references to the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer - 350 years old this year - and perhaps reflecting not only Royal preferences but the influence of the Bishop of London. The sermon was certainly better than Archbishop Coggan's in 1977 and for once Archbishop Williams was clear in what he was saying, although I think he had confused the then Princess Elizabeth's radio broadcast on her 21sth birthday in 1947 from South Africa with her accession in Kenya in 1952.

The television coverage at St Pauls was good, using the architecture to effects, and unlike the 1977 obsession with the camera in the top of the dome.

The Lord Mayor of London was there with the pearl sword, and entertained the Queen at the Mansion House afterwards but I wonder if there was a perhaps a conscious decison to keep "the City" at a distance in the wake of the financial crises. Thus it was not a lunch a Guildhall afterwards, but a return to Westminster for the Queen and the closer members of the Royal family - Guildhall hosted other distinguished visitors, but not before the eyes of the camera. The emphasis on the charitable works of the ancient Companies of London again stressed the links between the Crown and the City, but kept the modern City in the background. in any case  Westminster Hall is a a very suitable historic setting for such a luncheon - carrying on the tradition of Coronation banquets there from 1100 until 1821.

There was the the opportunity for a carriage procession for the return to Buckingham Palace.

 The Queen leaves Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster in the 1902 State Landau

The carriage procession in Whitehall
Image:Daily Telegraph/Reuters/Ki Price

The Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. An estimated one and a half million people lined The Mall below. As the Band of the Irish Guards played the National Anthem, a celebratory cascade of rifle fire, the feu de joie, was volleyed, for only the second time during her reign – the first was for her 80th birthday in 2006.

Image: Daily Telegraph/David Jones/PA Wire

Something which was also being made clear was the hierarchy within the Royal family. More so than on previous occasions there was a sharper focus, differentiating the Prince of Wales and the immediate line of succession - who were the only members of the Royal family to appear with the Queen on the Palace balcony - from the other children of the Queen and prince Philip, and with the Royal cousins forming a third group. The Queen was clearly emphasising the future with the next three ion line to the throne - this was dynasty rather than family in its message.


Image: Daily Telegraph

Monday 4 June 2012

A Jubilee beacon at Pontefract

On the BBC News following the Jubilee concert the reports on the celebrations included on eon the beacons lit across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth to mark the Diamond Jubilee - over 4,000, twice the number the organisers had originally envisaged. The news report featured the beacon on the top of what remains of the keep at Pontefract castle, that is in my home town. It was not just that fact of local pride but the suitability of Pontefract that struck me.

In the sieges of 1644 and 1645 the Royalist garrison of the castle used baconds on the top of the Round Tower - that is the keep - to signal to their fellow Royalists at York and at Sandal castle. In the history of the monarchy it is the last siege of Pontefract in 1648-49 that is most significant as can be seen from my post from last year Post Mortem Patris Pro Filio.

This was just one more of the many links that bind the history of Pontefract, and particularly the castle, into the history of the monarchy, and vice versa. In the middle ages and down to the seventeenth century it was often a violent and sensational story but one that fired my imagination for the history of the period, and for the study of both castles and crowns. As part of the local celebrations of the Silver Jubilee in 1977 I gave a talk on the town's links with the Crown -it was one of those lectures I meant to write up and publish, but never have done.

Pretty awesome

I saw part of the Jubilee Pop Concert on television this evening. Now I must admit that it was not necessarily the type of music I might be too keen on myself, and dare I suggest, maybe not Her Majesty's either, but that is not the point.

The point is that which stared you in the face - here was the Queen Victoria memorial turned into the setting for a pop concert, staged with panache and style for hundreds of thousands of people in the heart of London - and they definitely seemed to be enjoying it. The televison coverage was, unlike the Thames pageant, striking and impressive, using both the immediate setting and some very spectacular aerial views of the capital.

Here one could see virtually all the Royal family, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of Oxford University sitting in their own front row seats at a pop concert - not something you see frequently let's be honest. The distinguished guests could sit back and watch a different type of spectacle than that they are usually associated with.

In sum here one saw an institution well over a thousand years old quite able to sit comfortably alongside the inevitably transitory world of popular music. It conveyed a genuine, widespread popular sense of rejoicing around The Queen and her family. No mean achievement, and really, pretty awesome.

Jubilee river pageant

I watched most of the Jubilee River pageant yesterday on television. I think some of the criticism today of the coverage by the BBC can perhaps be expalined by the fact that this was an event they had little expereince of covering, and there was not the imaginative camera work that could convey the sweep of the Thames and the flotilla passing along it. The almost chat-show format was not very good, and again, I think, probably stemmed from not having precedents to draw upon for linking studio and outside  broadcast.

That said the pageant itself appeared very fine, and a spectacle that, despite the weather, drew the crowds, and showed how the river flowing through the heat of the capital could be used to great effect on occasions like this.




The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh watched the river pageant from aboard the Spirit of Chartwell. The royal barge is actually a luxury Thames river cruiser which was refurbished for the Jubilee, incorporating ornate gold prow sculptures and a gold-coloured canopy atop splendid red upholstery. The design was inspired by the idea of a diamond on a red cushion, with the Queen as its centrepiece. The barge was enhanced by hundreds of flowers from the Queen’s garden.

Image: Daily Telegraph/John Stillwell/AFP/Getty Images

I had a somehat more particular interest in the decoration of The Spirit of Chartwell - much of it was the work of a colleague at the Christ Church Picture Gallery here in Oxford who is also a tutor in gilding at the City and Guilds College in London. She had gilded the prow of the vessel, the plaques on the side and also made, painted and gilded the four cartouches with the national plant badges affixed to the corners of the canopy on the top deck. Another tutor at City and Guilds and his studens did the gilding of the Gloriana.


One of the students putting finishing touches to the gilding of the prow.


Splendour: The royal barge 'Spirit of Chartwell' carrying the Queen cruises down the River Thames during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant

The prow of the boat during the pageant
Image: Daily Mail/AFP/Getty Images

There are more illustrations of the pageant in this newspaper report which can be read here.

Celebrating the Jubilee at the Oxford Oratory

Yesterday morning we held our celebration of the Diamond Jubilee at the Oxford Oratory.

The Mass setting was Mozart's Coronation Mass (composed, as I understand it, for the coronation of a statue of Our Lady and not for that of one of the Habsburgs), the offertory anthem was Parry's I Was Glad, composed for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, and the organist played Walton's Crown Imperial from 1937 as the voluntary at the conclusion, following the Domine Salvam Fac Reginam - a new setting of the piece by Edward de Rivera, the Director of Music.

There was a really splendid sermon about the Queen and vocation given by the Provost, Fr Daniel Seward, and following the Mass we joined with St Giles church for a joint parish party in their hall across on the other side of Woodstock Road. It was a good occasion to celebrate the ties we all had in common. Over the quiche and sausage rolls, not to mention the meringues, I found myself talking to a French student I know here in Oxford about the relative claims and merits of King Henri VII and King Louis XX to tbe the occupant of the throne of France. Well, I would, would n't I?

There is a report and some pictures of the party as well as the text of Fr Daniel's sermon in the post Diamond Jubilee Celebrations from the Oratory website.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Rejoicing in the Holy Trinity

I managed on my return to Oxford yesterday to attend the Ordinariate Group's Mass at Holy Rood where the preacher was John Hunwicke, and exercising his ministry as a Deacon following his Ordination thereto last week.

In his sermon on the Holy Trinity he drew attention to the point that what we are called to do on Trinity Sunday is to celebrate the One in Three and Three in One, and not to attempt, with all the attendent theological dangers, to seek to understand it. Thus, as he pointed out, the customary antiphons for the day suggest an intellectual intoxication with the idea of the Trinity, a sheer delight in its wonderous unity and self-sufficiency that commands our worship and celebration.

This, it seems to me, is a very good point, and far better than trying to re-invent the Trinity, or at least Trinitarian theology in a parish sermon. Much more sensible, celebrate the Mystery, and rejoice in what has been revealed to us. When the composer of the Athanasian Creed said the Trinity was incomprehensible he knew what he was saying, and knew what he could not say, and did not try to.


The Adoration of the Holy Trinity
Albrecht Dürer, 1511


There is an online article about the painting at Adoration of the Trinity

Saturday 2 June 2012

An afternoon at Mapledurham

This afternoon Fr Jerome Bertram C.O., as Prefect of Brothers at the Oxford Oratory, took a small group of us on an excursion to Mapledurham House on the banks of the Thames. Situated down a winding lane off the Qxford to Reading road it is famous as a recusant house. There is quite a sense of discovery and of going back in time as one approaches the village, house and church.

The estate was bought in 1491 by the Blount family who began building the present house in 1588. The house, with many alterations and changes but still recognisably Elizabethan, has remained in the possession of the Blounts and their heirs the Eyston family ever since.

As a recusant centre the house has priestholes created by St Nicholas Owen, and was the scene of the unsuccessful courtship by Alexander Pope of a member of the family. More recently it has been considered to be one of the possible inspirations for Toad Hall in The Wind in the Willows and the house and village was used for the 1976 film The Eagle Has Landed

The estate website can be viewed here, and I would certainly recommend any one interested to visit Mapledurham.

Our first visit was to the Mill. This is the last working watermill on the Thames. A mill is recorded at Mapledurham in Domesday Book in 1086 - presumably on the same site. The core of the presnt building is fifteenth century, and has seventeenth century extensions.
At one side the water turns a modern electricity turbine, but inside one can see how the mill works, and appreciate the elaboration of traditional rural technology. As a result I think I now appreciate rather better how this vital part of the rural economy worked. There are informative displays and a guide book to assist, as well as flour and other related products from the mill on sale.


Mapledurham Mill
Image: panoramio.com

The house has some handsome interiors, which suggest a quiet prosperity in the past, but that as recusants the Blounts had not had the money to spend which other families did who did not face fines and double land tax. The chapel is a very attractive Gothick addition of the eighteenth century. There is an interesting array of family portraits from the sixteenth century, and masses of more recent family photographs.


Mapledurham House from the east
Image: panoramio.com

On the front lawn there was a quintessentially English Jubilee fete going on. We joined in singing the National Anthem, drank the Queen's health and signed the loyal address to Her Majesty, as well as meeting the owner of the estate, Mr John Eyston, before having a good afternoon tea in the stable yard.

From there we went on to look at the parish church of St Margaret. A medieval building, but with a substantial part dating from Butterfield's mid-nineteenth century restoration, it has the intersting feature of the Blount aisle, which is still the private possession of family, and hence Catholic, although without an altar due to the crowding in over the centuries of tombs. The aisle and earliest tombs are the work of the Bardolf family from the 1390s, predecessors of the Blounts.

In 1828 the Vicar, Charles Sumner, resigned the living and went on, eventually, to become Archbishop of Canterbury. His successor, initially reluctant, was the Rt. Hon. and Rev. Lord Augustus FitzClarence  - one of the illegitimate sons of the future King William IV and Mrs Jordan. Born in 1805 he was to serve as Vicar from 1828 until his death in 1854 - and proved a conscientious incumbent, although he failed to secure possession in a court case of the Blount aisle.

This was athoroughly enjoyable afternoon - time spent with friends, a charming and historic place to visit, the mental stimulus of learning about a place and its past, and, on this Jubilee weekend, a very real sense of enduring Englishness.

The Coronation on film

Looking around on the internet for colour pictures of the Coronation I found a number in an article about the issue on DVD of the 1953 documentary film A Queen is Crowned. Written by Christopher Fry and narrated by Sir Lawrence Olivier it has now been restored and reissued to mark the Diamond Jubilee. Although the television coverage of the Coronation was a landmark in broadcasting history it was, inevitably, only in black-and white. This film, however, is in colour and, as I recall it, a stylish record of the day.

Here is a still photograph from the film of the homage of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops:

Unique: The Queen's 1953 Coronation was the first ever to be televised

Image: Daily Mail/ITV/RexFeatures 

The article about the film, with several other photographs can be read here.

Coronation Day

Today is the anniversary of the Coronation of H M The Queen in 1953.

There will doubtless be specific commemorations next year on the sixtieth anniversary, but in so far as the Coronation and all that it conveys and symbolises lies, as it does, at the very heart of the Monarchy, then it is a very appropriate event to recall this Jubilee weekend. This, and not the lesser doings of day to day governance and the popular interest in the lives of the Royal Family, is what the Monarchy is about - providing a structure of Christian rulership that is mediated by ecclesiastical sanction, fundamental ties of loyalty, the maintenance of the rule of law and the sustaining of the national community in time and space.


The Queen on her Coronation Day.
The defining photograph by Cecil Beaton.

Image: vam.ac.uk


The Duke of Edinburgh pays homage