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.

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Bournemouth Oratory-in-formation

The website of the Oxford Oratory today has this post about the beginnings of the new Oratory foundation in Bournemouth:

Bournemouth Oratory-in-formation 


Today Father Dominic and Fr Peter Edwards go to the Sacred Heart in Bournemouth to begin the new Oratory-in-formation. Please pray for them that the Oratorian life may grow and flourish there, and that many may come to know and love the heart of St Philip.

The new community has a website: bournemouthoratory.org.uk where you can find out about their parish, church and life.


 From the new website:

"At last we are on our way to Bournemouth!  Our arrival was delayed by the sad illness and death of our Father David, back in March, but now the time has come to commence this great adventure to establish the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri at the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the heart of this city.

We thank Bishop Philip for inviting us to his Diocese, and are delighted to be coming to Sacred Heart Parish to begin the new Bournemouth Oratory-in-Formation on the Feast of Our Lady’s Visitation, 31st May 2017. On that day, in addition to the usual 12.15pm daily Mass, there is an additional 6pm Mass for this inaugural occasion, followed by drinks in the Catholic Institute, when we look forward to meeting Parishioners and friends. The Tower Captain and Bell-Ringers have asked to ring a Quarter Peal that evening to welcome the arrival of the Oratory.

Formed by St Philip Neri in 16th century Rome, and brought to England by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, the Oratory is here to serve the Parish, University, and all who choose to come to the Sacred Heart.

In addition to Fr Dominic (a Co-Founder of the Oxford Oratory 27 years ago), who is the Moderator of this new Oratorian Community, and Fr Peter, as Parish Priest, there are two brothers, who come initially as Postulants - Wojtek and Kari (respectively from Poland and Finland). A further arrival is expected in the summer, while much work needs to be done on the Oratory House to make room for other enquirers - priests or laymen - who are welcome to make contact.

From the first Monday (5th June), in additional to the usual 12.15pm daily Mass, Mass will be offered at 7.30am on weekdays, with Confessions before every Mass. The existing Wednesday 11am - 12 noon Eucharistic Adoration will be extended from the end of the 7.30am Mass until mid-day so that, in the words of Bishop Philip, more people will have opportunity to “meet the Lord Jesus in Person, and take to heart the salvation and eternal life He offers”.

While nothing will initially change, additions to the existing programme of devotions will naturally be in the spirit of St Philip Neri, with the ‘daily distribution of the Word’, prayer, and the Sacraments - the foundations of the Oratory. The Fathers and Brothers gather together for half-an-hour of prayer twice every weekday - and invite others to join us - for meditation at 7am, and at 6pm for evening Oratory (silent prayer, and then a litany and devotions). There will be the traditional Blessing with the Relic of St Philip after Mass on Mondays, and from the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (18th June) we start Oratory and Benediction at 6pm on Sundays.

We greatly look forward to being with you, working with and for you, and introducing St Philip, the Apostle of Christian Joy, to the Parish, University and beyond. St Philip said:  ‘The great thing is that we become saints'.  He saw the work of the Oratory essentially as 'making people saints in their own homes'.  This is our hope and our aim.  It is our vocation. May the Lord bless us all."

Monday 22 May 2017

Death of Constantine the Great

Today is the 1680th anniversary of the death of the Emperor Constantine the Great at Nicomedia in 337.

Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus was born in Naissus ( Niš in Serbia) on February 27, 272
( although other dates for his birth have been advanced ) and he was proclaimed Emperor in succession to his father Constantius Chlorus at Eboracum - now York - on July 25th 306. Initially one of seven contenders for the Imperial dignity by 324 he was undisputed master of the Roman world and had by the Edict of Milan given toleration, and followed it with generous patronage, to Christianity. There is an online account of his life with links at Constantine the Great 

The accession of Constantine, and its consequences, is arguably the single most important event to have happened in the British Isles. As a Yorkshireman one can take especial pride or interest in the fact that it happened in York. Whatever ceremonies attended upon the event probably took place in the Basilica whose remains underlie York Minster. Following the excavations there a collapsed column from it was re-erected outside the Minster and that has now been joined by a modern statue of the young Emperor.

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The modern statue from 1998 of the Emperor Constantine outside York Minster

Image: Pinterest

Constantine did not of course remain long in Eboracum and established  himself in Trier before his conquest of Italy and then of the East and the establishment of Constantinople as the new Imperial capital.

One of his features as aruler was aconcern with his image, and was very much in the tradition of his predecessors in that respect. However with his adoption of Christianity new stylistic issues emerged.


A bronze coin of Emperor Constantine
This depicts him as a young man

Image: eBay

Constantine coin
Gold coin of Emperor Constantine

Image: Nobility.org

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Medallian issued by Constantine from Ticinum in 315.
As recorded by Eusebius the Emperor has the chi-rho on his helmet


From his residence in Rome after 312 there are the remains of a statue, made out of marble and bronze around a brick core.

Dated to 312-15, and probably reworked after 325, the 40 foot high enthroned statue proclaimed the authority, the quasi-divine authority, of the Emperor. That did not prevent it being pillaged in late Antiquity, and the marble portions of it were only rediscovered in 1486. 

There is more about it at Colossus of Constantine and at Images of the Colossal statue of Constantine, Rome, 315-330


The head of a colossal statue of the Emperor in the Capitoline Museum in Rome

Image: Wikipedia 

A gold medallion from the later part of the Emperor's reign was auctioned by Bonhams in Los Angeles in 2015. This still portrays the Emperor as a young man, just as Augustus was always so depicted.


Few 4th century gold medallions of this significant size — a diameter of 48.8 mm and weight of 41.88 g — have come to market in recent years. Gold medallions such as this were typically gifts given by the Emperor to high-ranking individuals of the empire, both military and civilian. They were also presented to ambassadors and chieftains on important occasions in hopes to impress them.

The Director of the Rare Coins and Banknotes Department at Bonhams, Paul Song, states, "Having handled two of the most valuable collections of ancient coins ever offered at auction, this particular gold medallion of 9 solidi size was not in either collection, making this an extremely rare find. It is of the highest importance to the advanced collector. The fact that Constantine the Great, himself, would have almost certainly handled the coin in question further adds to the allure and desirability of this incredible item."

Constantine gold

These medallions were true multiples of gold and silver coins and could legally be used as money. This particular piece of ancient currency illustrates a bust of Constantine wearing a rosette diadem. On the reverse, Constantine is seen with a nimbate or halo, which is often found on Byzantine coins. He is seated on his throne while holding his staff in his right hand and the cherished plant, acacia, in his left. His two sons, Constantine II and Constantius, stand on either side of Constantine in their military attire, each holding a spear and shield.

Historians have placed this coin's creation after May 11, 330 A.D. (the consecration of Constantinople). Therefore, this remarkable coin may be one of the earliest productions of the Constantinople mint.
Images and text: Bonham's and lunaticg.blogspot.com 

Despite his patronage and munificence towards the Church, and not least his his convocation of the Council of Nicea, it was not until he was on his deathbed that Constantine was baptised. One suggestion is that he was planning to travel to Jerusalem for baptism but that his final illness overtook him early on his journey and hence his death in the old Eastern capital of Nicomedia.

His body was brought back to Constantinople and buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles

" The destroyed church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople, known only through a description by Eusebius of Caesarea, was begun in 333 and completed by Constantius II (337–361). It was cross-shaped, and a drum—a cylindrical or polygonal wall that usually supports a dome—rose above the crossing, probably covered by a conical wooden roof. The sarcophagus of Constantine stood in the centre, surrounded by memorials to the 12 Apostles. It was less a church than a mausoleum in honour of the first Christian emperor, who was made to appear in that church as the 13th Apostle." 

Encyclopaedia Britannica.com 

The church as rebuilt two centuries later under the Emperor Justinian is shown in these images from the website Byzantium1200.com together with their notes:

The Church of the Holy Apostles was first built in the fourth century, in a cruciform shape and attached to the round mausoleum of Constantine on the highest hill of the newly founded city. In the time of Justinian I the church was rebuilt completely on a larger scale, leaving Constantine's mausoleum intact and adding a second cruciform mausoleum. Most emperors and their wifes were buried there until the 11th century. The church of the Holy Apostles had at least the same overall size as the Hagia Sophia; was erected on the groundplan of a Greek cross, had one dome with windows over the centre and four domes without on the cross arms. However, the details of construction are much disputed, since no part of the building survives and the later copies in the west like San Marco in Venice or Saint-Front in Périgeux seem to imitate the original building quite freely. The church was given to the Greek Patriarch after the Ottoman conquest in 1453, but then demolished in 1456 and subsequently replaced by the big Mosque of Mehmet Fatih. 



His burial church may have gone, and possibly only apart of his sarcophagus survives, but there can be no doubt that few rulers have had so long lasting an impact on the life of the world as Constantine the Great.

Friday 19 May 2017

The Court of Chivalry in the 1630s

The Special Correspondent sent me this link to a post from the Institute of Historical Research into the records of the Court of Chivalry in the period 1634-40 and the insight they give into aristocratic and gentle mores in the reign of King Charles I.

The original post can be accessed here

Thursday 18 May 2017

DNA and the Peerage

The Special Correspondent has sent me the link to the following and very interesting article from The Tatler about the implications for Peerage inheritance cases of a decision by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council concerning the admissability of DNA evidence to establish paternity. It can be read  here

Amongst the cases it discusses is the Russell of Ampthill one from the inter-war period about which I read an account many years ago.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

William Dobson painting for the Ashmolean

The Oxford Mail has a report about the assignment to the Ashmolean by H.M Treasury of a painting by William Dobson. Dobson who succeeded Van Dyke as Court painter, but in the very different circumstances of the Civil War, had a studio in the High Street in Oxford and painted Royalist officers during the war years. Dobson died in London in 1646.

This is the first of his paintings to come into the hands of the Ashmolean and depicts Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Colonel William Legge and Colonel John Russell at a meeting in Oxford. The Prince lodged with his brother Prince Maurice in the High close to where the Covered Market is now.


Prince Rupert, Colonel William Legge and Colonel John Russell meeting in Oxford

Image: Oxford Mail/Ashmolean 

Royal Visit to Oxford

On Tuesday the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall undertook a series of engagements in Oxford, and the visit was covered by the Oxford Mail.

Pictures and "as-it-happens" reports from its webpages can be found at

and at

I have to admit that I did not know the visit was taking place - had I done so I would have gone along to see TRH, but so often in Oxford such visits are not well publicised in advance.

Empress Maria Theresa

Today is the 300th anniversary of the birth of the future Empress Maria Theresa in 1717.

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Empress Maria Theresa
Portrait by Martin van Meytens 1759

Image: Wikipedia

There is an illustrated online biography of the Empress-Queen at Maria Theresa which covers not only the issues she faced and dealt with as ruler of the Habsburg lands but also her complex character - forceful and down-to-earth but also sentimental, not always logical or consistent and not infrequently quixotic, and emphatically feminine ( or should one say feminist today?)

The news service Royal Central had a post about the commemorations of this tercentenary a couple of months ago:

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of one of Austria’s most important figures. A major exhibition open until 29 November will be hosted this year at Schönbrunn Palace and across three sites in Vienna and Lower Austria, entitled “Maria Theresa, Strategist, Mother, Reformer”, to mark the tercentenary of her birth, each of which opens to the public on 15 March. The exhibition will explore the monarch's life and legacy, her political achievements and works, allowing us a rare insight into the many facets of her personality and also the darker periods of her reign.
Such was the power of her personality and legacy that she still can dominate today: she stands in the form of the great monument on the square in Vienna that bears her name, the Maria-Theresien-Platz. This monument does much to symbolise the many ways in which she has come to leave her mark on popular culture, showing her synonymously as both powerful Empress and unmistakable woman, which was part of the cult that Maria Theresa consciously cultivated. And then there is the depiction of her as Austria’s ‘Great Mother’, as a monarch ruling over her subjects as her first children - a remark which Maria Theresa actually made - meaning that in equal reverse, her children were first ruled like subjects, to whom she was devoted but who she nevertheless expected to be compliant when it came to their personal futures, which were decided by way of dynastic marriages to strengthen the Franco-Austrian alliance for the ultimate benefit of the state.  Maria Theresa promoted many reforms during her reign which would help to modernize the state - for which reason she is justly remembered today - although it is important to remember that she rather receives the credit for these as they took place during her reign, although her ministers and co-regent and successor Joseph II were more probably responsible for them.
She was born the eldest surviving child of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI and his bride, Elisabeth Christine of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, on 17 May 1717 at the Hofburg Palace, the Imperial residence in Vienna, being christened later that day with the names Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina. Her sex was a source of disappointment at her birth. Charles VI had issued a variation of Leopold I’s Pact of Succession - the so-called Pragmatic Sanction in 1713 - which meant that his children could succeed before the daughters of his elder brother. Charles VI was deeply concerned that the Sanction should be recognised by the European Great Powers, although it was issued during the wait for the longed-for male heir to arrive, as the Sanction pre-dated Maria Theresa’s birth by four years. It seems to have been made as the last strategy at the end of a long-held hope: ultimately, with Maria Theresa’s recognition as his heir, marriage negotiations would eventually follow which would enable the Imperial elective throne of Holy Roman Emperor to be given to her future husband, Francis Stephan of Lorraine in 1745, thus making her Holy Roman Empress herself, albeit by marriage. On the sudden death of Charles VI, Maria Theresa found herself inexperienced and vulnerable to the attacks which soon followed: Shortly afterwards, several of the European powers that had acknowledged the Sanction repudiated their recognition of her rights, notably Prussia, with Frederick II’s invading of Austria’s hereditary territory of Silesia, thereby striking the match for what would become known as the War of the Austrian Succession. The loss of Silesia during this War meant that it would remain a bone of bitter contention, as it belonged to the inherited body of her dominions and was something which - despite the great Austrian victory at the battle of Kolin - was not recovered during the subsequent Seven Years’ War.
Maria Theresa fought in another way too. To achieve the dynastic marriages so desired by the state, she was prepared to make a personal sacrifice by way of her children. Among these were the future Emperors Joseph II, Leopold II, Queen Maria Carolina of Naples and Queen Marie Antoinette of France, who all made dynastic marriages negotiated by Maria Theresa’s State Chancellor, Prince von Kaunitz. The main aim of these state marriages was to support a volte-face in Austrian foreign policy: the rapprochement between the Hapsburg and Bourbon monarchies, underpinned by the 1756 Treaty of Versailles. The Roman Catholic Maria Theresa’s clever embracing of her sex in the form of a ‘Great Mother’ has meant that this is largely as she is remembered today, something which she promoted during her own lifetime.
The Maria-Theresa-Denkmal in Vienna  

Image: Wikimedia
Typical of the time in which she was born, Maria Theresa does, in fact, embody an era’s gradual dawning in transition, viewing reform with a caution which her natural conservatism could never entirely overcome. The many modernising advances introduced during her reign were essentially for the betterment of the state and not because of her philosophical convictions, along the lines of what has become known as 'enlightened absolutism'.  It was her son, Joseph II, who better personified a enlightened attitude in the next generation with the abolition of torture in 1776, for example. 

Arguably the greatest legacy of her reign was the renovation of the Imperial palace of Schönbrunn. A major exhibition in Vienna will be hosted this year at Schönbrunn and across other sites, entitled “Maria Theresa, Strategist, Mother, Reformer”, to mark 300 years since her birth. Her other main residence in Vienna was the Hofburg Palace where she was born and the wing in which she lived – the Leopoldinischer Trakt – is today the Chancellery of the Austrian President. The President’s Salon is presided over by an enormous portrait of Maria Theresia, in her former bedroom: The Empress has her place in Vienna’s future, as well as its past.

To this the Clever Boy would add that she exemplified many of the best qualities of successful female hereditary rulership and of the traditions of her dynasty. Edward Crankshaw's biography, though dating from the 1960s is still very readable, and she displayed an energy and commitment, a confidence and a directness that is striking and engaging. A formidable women in all things.

Monday 15 May 2017

French Inauguration

One does one's best to try to ignore the political antics on the southern side of the Channel but even I managed to take on board something of the Presidential inauguration of M.Macron in Paris

There was the depressing sight of him in a lounge suit rather than the white tie of past inaugurations and the comdedy provided by the BBC when its website referred to the President being presented with a "necklace" which had belonged to Napoleon. What they actually meant but were either too ignorant themselves to know or assumed their public were too ignorant to understand was the Grand Master's Collar of the Legion of Honour...

I came across a set of quotations from M. Macron which are taken from a book by Eric Fottorrino Macron Par Macron which is based around interviews with the new President.

The first to be quoted, and the one that caught my eye is as follows:

“In French politics, this absence is the presence of a King, a King whom, fundamentally, I don’t think the French people wanted dead,” said Macron. “The Revolution dug a deep emotional abyss, one that was imaginary and shared: the King is no more!” According to Macron, since the Revolution France has tried to fill this void, most notably with Napoleon and then Charles de Gaulle, which was only partially successful. “The rest of the time,” said Macron, “French democracy does not manage to fill this void.”

Well we know what the answer is to that do n't we?

There is more from the book at  http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/emmanuel-macron-policies-beliefs-philosophy

All in all, let's face it - no match for le Sacre at Reims.

Vive Le Roi!

Saturday 13 May 2017

Fatima Centenary

Today is the centenary of the first of the Marian apparitions and locutions at Fátima in Portugal in 1917.

The story of Fátima is well enough known, but for those who do not there is an introduction to the events of the months from May to October 1917 and their aftermath at Our Lady of Fátima

It is intensely moving and one which casts, if one may mix ones images, both light and along shadow across the intervening century and into the future. It is a message both of comfort and of hope and also of danger and warning. In no way has it lost its relevance.

The Fátima Visionaries
Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta in 1917
There is something very arresting about the faces of these three children that goes far beyond any matter of unfamiliarity with the camera. It is one of the great photographs of the twentieth century.

Image: Wikipedia

Our Lady of Fátima pray for us!
Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta pray for us!


Friday 12 May 2017

Feast of SS Nereus and Achilleus and of St Pancras

This morning I went to a Mass celebrated by Fr Antom Webb at the Oxford Oratory to mark the tenth anniversary of his priestly Ordination.

Fr Webb was ordained on feast of SS Nereus and Achilleus in 2007in the Oxford Oratory, of which he was then a member. This is a feast always important to Oratorians and their church in Rome became Cardinal Baronius' basilica. Fr Anton subsequently left the Oratory and now ministers as a Prison Chaplain and Parish priest in the diocese of Northampton. 

If you are wondering who these two saints were here is the Third Reading from this morning's Office of Matins:

The brothers Nereus and Achilleus were eunuchs of Flavia Domitilla and were baptized by St. Peter at the same time as she herself and her mother Plautilla. Because they persuaded Domitilla to consecrate her virginity to God, they were accused of being Christians by Aurelian, who had been betrothed to her, and were sent to the island of Ponza. Soon afterwards, they were scourged in an effort to make them sacrifice to idols, and were taken to Terracina, where, after they had overcome the torture of the rack and flaming torches, they were beheaded. Their bodies were taken to Rome by their disciple Auspicius and buried on the Ardeatine Way. As for Flavia Domitilla, who had received the sacred veil of a virgin from Pope St. Clement, she also was deported to the island of Ponza, and after a long imprisonment was taken to Terracina. There, by the judge's orders, her dwelling was set on fire, and she won a glorious death, along with the virgins Theodora and Euphrosyna, her foster-sisters, on May 7, under Emperor Trajan. Their bodies were buried by the Deacon Caesarius.

There is more about their cult at Saints Nereus and Achilleus

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 The Relics of SS Nereus and Achilleus

Image: New Liturgical Movement 

It is also the feast of St Pancras. Of him the Breviary says that he was born of a noble Phrygian family, was baptized in Rome at the age of fourteen. Under the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, he was arrested; and when he firmly refused to sacrifice to the gods, he was beheaded and so won the glorious crown of martyrdom. His body was buried secretly on the Via Aurelia by the matron Octavilla.

There is more about him at Pancras of Rome which includes folklore about him and other Ice Saints and why his cult developed in England, and there are more general links at St._Pancras


 St Pancras - a northern German statue of circa 1300 now in the Bodemuseum


It was a happy occasion upon which to meet up with Fr Anton and other friends from the Oratory to help him celebrate this anniversary - and to reflect on how quickly time seems to pass...


Coronation Day 1937

Today is the eightieth anniversary of the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937.

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Image: E-Bay

Portrait of H.M. King George VI in Coronation Robes, 1937 (oil on canvas) Queen Elizabeth's father.



Image: Tumblr
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Image: Daily Mail 

The Daily Express article King George VI's coronation: An event filled with mishaps recounts aspects of the day, and the problems involved in such an immensely complex event that turns very much on the actions of a few central participants.

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The information service Royal Central has a post, which I have slightly adapted, about the present Queen's diary for that day:

In a diary entry on 12 May 1937, from the then 11-year-old Princess Elizabeth recorded the experience of watching her father’s coronation at Westminster Abbey.

The diary entry opened with the fact that the day saw the young princess awakened at the early hour of 05:00 by the music of the Royal Marines band outside her window. Following an early breakfast, Princess Elizabeth got dressed in a gown of “silk and cream lace” with “little gold bows all the way down the middle” and “puffed sleeves with one little bow in the centre.”

After kissing “mummy” goodbye, the Princess and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, joined other relatives in a carriage heading towards the Abbey. “At first it was very jolty but we soon got used to it.”

Of the service, Elizabeth wrote of how her father looked “very beautiful in a crimson robe and the Cap of State” as he walked down the long aisle. She also noted that “I thought it all very, very wonderful and I expect the Abbey did, too. The arches and beams at the top were covered with a sort of haze of wonder as Papa was crowned, at least I thought so."

The young princess grew tired during the long service, however, noting afterwards that the “inordinately long” ceremony seemed to drag on for hours. She wrote that "at the end, the service got rather boring as it was all prayers" and that she and her grandmother “smiled at each other” in relief when they saw the word “Finis” on the final page.

Following the Coronation, the Royal Family returned to Buckingham Palace where they appeared on the balcony to greet the gathered crowds. The young princess noted that “millions of people were waiting below” on the Mall.

Following tea at 6 pm the tired Princess climbed into bed with legs that “ached terribly”.

Sunday 7 May 2017

The Royal Guelphic Order

The latest College of Arms web newsletter has an article about the centenary of the Order of the British Empire which includes interesting material about the Royal Guelphic Order, established by the Prince Regent in 1815. After 1837 it was seen as an Order of the Kingdom of Hanover, where it came to be ranked second in that realm's system of honours. Since 1866 it has survived as a House rather than as a State Order.

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Insignia of a Knight Grand Cross Military Division of the Royal Guelphic Order
Tallinn Museum of Orders

Image: Wikimedia

I was especially interested to see the painting of the Knight in full ceremonial robes, and I have edited the post to concentrate on the Royal Guelphic Order alone.

17. Guelphic Order p. 237 compressed

This pen and ink sketch, tinted with watercolour, shows a member of the Royal Guelphic Order in full regalia. He wears the blue mantle, star (sewn onto the mantle), collar and badge. 

 College of Arms MS 'The Guelphic Order' p. 237

The image is from a volume which belonged to Sir George Nayler, an Officer of Arms from 1792 and Garter King of Arms from 1822. All British orders of chivalry have officers, usually including a King of Arms (who need not be an Officer of Arms of the College of Arms). Nayler was involved with several orders, and was Genealogist of the Order of the Bath from 1792, King of Arms of the Royal Guelphic Order from 1815, and King of Arms of the Order of St Michael and St George from 1818.

18. Guelphic Order p. 206 compressed

This illustration shows the badge of the Royal Guelphic Order, Military Division (as symbolised by the crossed swords), front and back. The front of the badge depicts the white horse of Hanover inside a blue enamel circle bearing the order's motto, NEC ASPERA TERRENT, and the back bears the cypher GR. The volume containing these images, which is of the nature of a scrapbook on the Order, includes a piece of the blue ribbon from which the badge should be hung, stuck onto the page.

College of Arms MS 'The Guelphic Order' p. 206

19. Guelphic Order p. 24 compressed

This painting is of the ceremonial collar of the Royal Guelphic Order. The collar of the Royal Guelphic Order includes the cypher of the monarch reigning at the time of its foundation (George III), together with lions passant gardant and crowns. The badge is of the Civil Division, being without swords.

College of Arms MS 'The Guelphic Order' p. 24

20. Guelphic Order p. 23 compressed

Signature of George, Prince Regent, approving the badge of the new Royal Guelphic Order in 1815. The volume into which this document is bound was owned by Sir George Nayler, who in 1815 was York Herald and the King of Arms of the Royal Guelphic Order.
College of Arms MS 'The Guelphic Order' p. 23
Images: College of Arms

There is an account of the Order, its original divisions and of its history after 1837, including its re-structuring in 1841 and its survival as a House Order after 1866 at Royal Guelphic Order

There are pictures of some of the insignia at The Royal Guelphic Order. A collar of the Order is, I believe, on display in the KOYLI Museum in Doncaster. 

Grand Cross: Star

Star of a Knight Grand Cross - Military Division
This is an early example


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 A post-1860 GCH Star of continental manufacture

Image: The Saleroom/Spink

After 1837 and the accession of King Ernest Augustus I to the throne of Hanover the Order became more clearly a Hanoverian one. It was joined in 1839 by a new Order, possibly intended to replicate the part played by the Order of the Garter in England and taking precedence over the Royal Guelphic,  the Order of St. George, and late in 1865, on the eve of the loss of the kingdom the following year, by the Order of Ernst August which ranked third in the hierarchy.

The last British holder of the GCH was Field Marshal HRH Prince George Duke of Cambridge, who died in 1904.

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A star of a Knight Commander - KCH - Military Division


Thursday 4 May 2017

A rather Old Rite Bank Holiday

This last few days over the Bank Holiday and since I have been able to enjoy something of a festival of traditional liturgy, or indeed, liturgies.

Last Saturday I was at Blackfriars here in Oxford for a celebration of the Dominican Rite by Fr Oliver Keenan O.P. - a young priest whom I had the privilege of teaching medieval church history in 2013.

On Sunday I travelled with a friend to Reading for Mass at the FSSP church of St William of York, so here was the 1962 Rite celebrated , and when we returned to Oxford we were able to go, as usual to traditional Vespers at the Oxford Oratory.

Monday saw another Dominican Rite Mass, this time at SS Gregory and Augustine, and celebrated by Fr Matthew Jarvis O.P., again a fine young priest from Oxford Blackfriars and whom I know from our membership of the committee of Churches Together in Central Oxford.

Today, Thursday, there was a celebration of a High Mass from the 1962 Missal for the feast of the English Martyrs at the Oxford Oratory - this is, of course in effect 'the Mass the Martyrs died for.' Given that historic claim it is a pity that some of the more vocal enthusiasts for the Traditional  Liturgy were not there. I appreciate that not everyone can get to every such celebration, but I sometimes sense that some do not try as hard as others to support public celebrations of something they hold so dear.

Monday 1 May 2017

The Acts of St Philip

Traditionally today is the feast of St Philip and St James, although since the 1950s they have moved around the calendar in early May.

Related image

The Crucifixion of St Philip 

Filippino Lippi from 1487-1502 

Cappella Strozzi, Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Image: scuolaecclesiamater.org

Many more images of St Philip and St James can be found, with an Italian post at the same website, here

Here, from New Advent, are the texts of  The Acts of Philip  recording his missionary work as an Apostle and his eventual martyrdom- which includes acautionary story about the need to forgive and not curse our enemies.



Image: Wikimedia 

This calendar page from the Très Riches Heures is attributed to Jean de Limbourg.

Here is the aristocratic world of Maying, of courtship and high society in the early fifteenth century. The occasion is the May jaunt, a pageant celebrating the "joli mois de Mai" in which one had to wear green garments known as livree de mai, or at very least as a sign of festivity a garland or sprig of greenery with one's other attire. Looking at the musicians horns or trumpets and simple trombone it must also have been quite a noisy canter through the countryside.

It is an idyllic scene in a world that was far from idyllic, with France beset by internal strife and in 1415 had experienced the first invasion by King Henry V culminating in the English victory at Agincourt. In August 1417 King Henry was back with a campaign of systematic conquest in Normandy. The life of Paris and northern France as recorded in the Journal of the Bourgeois of Paris was grim and violent due to the collapse of the political consensus and the consequent lapse into violent disorder between Burgundians and Orleanists.

The element of escapism is borne out by the fact that in the background, beyond the woodland, is the Hôtel de Neslé, the Duke of Berry's Paris residence, and which was situated on the left bank of the Seine in the heart of the capital.

It is nonetheless idyllic, reminiscent in its ethos of the eighteenth century French school with painters such as Watteau, and a reminder of what the aristocracy - and their imitators no doubt - sought as their lifestyle. This was what life should be like at this time of year, and there was no reason for the artist not to depict it, even if in reality the young men were off fighting and the young women waiting their return in their family chateaux.