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.
Earlier this evening,together with other members of the Oratory's Benedictine Oblates group, I was given atour of the newly developed building for which the Oratory has been raising funds. This is Phase One. The building work is now completed, although some fitting out works remains to be carried out before His Grace the Archbishop of Birmingham is comes to celebrate Mass and bless the completed work on August 4th.
This evening we saw the impressive conversion of the old parish centre, complete with new kitchen and bar, the library created in the room above - originally these housed the parish school. The library promises to be a fine galleried room with space to house the sizeable Oratory library, including the Gaisford collection, part of the library of Mgr Graham Leonard and the remains of G. K.Chesterton's library and related manuscript material.
Beyond this lies a set of new rooms for Fathers of the Oratory and guest accomodation, giving the community the ability to expand. What is striking about the extension and conversion is the skill of the architect in creating so much space on a limited site and the care in providing the finishing touches to make it a properly finished building.
After all the work of fund raising and the wait to see what was going on behind the screened-off area it was very satisfying to see what has been achieved, to look forward to the completion of this Phase, and then, of course, to go on to Phase Two...