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.
On Monday I travelled up to London to meet up with my good friend Fr Martin Stamnestro. We first met in 2001 at Pusey House, and both are now converts to the Catholic Church. Fr Martin is now a parish priest and diocesan officer in his native Norway at Alesund.
We arranged to meet at the London Oratory, which he was visiting to participate in their Forty Hours Devotion which begins today. He had booked an altar to say an EF Mass, and this turned out to be at at St Philip's Altar. as it was 5pm I and one other person formed the congrgation, with me responding to the Mass using an app on my mobile phone so to do ( I surprise myself sometime sat my technical skills these days) as I knelt at the communion rail.
With Fr Martin were the Administrator and the Cantor from the Catholic cathedral in Trondheim. This is currently the only Catholic cathedral being built in the world and one of the reasons for their visit to London was to do some practical reseach as to equipping the new building and to do some sacristy shopping - they were paying avisit to Messrs. Watts emporium today.
After the Mass we went by taxi to Rotherhithe, to the Norwegian church there. This church of St Olav is the official chapel to the Norwegian community in London, originating as the Seamans Mission. Here we met up again with the Chaplain, the Rev. Torbjorn Holt, whom I first met through Fr Martin when Torbjorn, then chaplain to Norwegian students in Britain, was based in Oxford. He is an excellent and generous host and we dined with him and the local Anglican Vicar, whom I had met on my last visit to St Olav's. Dinner was very convivial, with the conversation ranging over parish life an dpractice, mutual friends, shared history and the European Referendum.
I was invited to stayed overnight at St Olav's, and then this morning found that a bus from outside the church would take me almost right to the coach stop for Oxford in Victoria, so that I was back in good time to give a tour of the city.
A most enjoyable and enlivening interlude and an opportunity to catch up with good and valued friends.