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.

Monday 30 November 2020

St Andrew and Scotland

Today is the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle.

There is a useful introduction to the scriptural material about him, the early legends and the diffusion of his cult in the Wikipedia article Andrew the ApostleThis has useful sections about his patronage and the growth of devotion to him in Scotland.

Customs linked to today as his feast are outlined in St. Andrew's Day

James III was reportedly murdered by a rebellious subject disguised as a priest

St Andrew crowns King James III of Scots (1460-88). The future King James IV kneels behind his father.
From the Trinity Panels by Hugo van der Goes (d. 1482)

Image: Royal Collection/National Galley of Scotland/History Answers

The Wikipedia article suggests the cult of St Andrew in Scotland began in the mid-eighth century when relics arrived there from northern England, and linked to St Wilfrid, who was, of course, noted for his links and visits to Rome. A century or so later it appears St Andrew was seen as their patron by the Scots from the battle of Athelstaneford. At the end of the thirteenth century the figure of the crucified St Andrew was used as the design for the seal of the Guardians of Scotland during the interregnum of 1290-94 and the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 refers to him as patron. His relics gave prestige to the church which enshrined them and to its primatial bishop, and from 1472, Archbishop, of St Andrew’s, together with its attendant University.

The Most Noble and Most Ancient Order of the Thistle is under the patronage of St Andrew. The claims to its antiquity before 1687 are at times clearly pious fictions, but it may be that Scottish monarchs from the time of King James III did attempt to establish a chivalric Order to match those of their contemporaries. The inventory of the possessions of King James IiI made after his death in 1488 does record a collar and badge much like that of the present Order, and it, or a similar one, is shown encircling the Royal Arms in the image of King James IV from his Book of Hous and being worn by King James V in paintings.

Click on the link below:


King James IV (1488-1513) with St James the Great from his Book of Hours. After 1503.

Image: Oesterreiches National Staatsbibliotek

The green mantle of St Andrew in the Trinity Panel and the hangings of the entrance to the chapel in the Book of Hours may both be seen as a reference to the mantle of the Order of the Thistle.

 It may be that the frequent royal minorities of the Stewart monarchy prevented earlier forms of the Order achieving stability like that of the Garter. There is a history and description of the Order which records and evaluates this early evidence at Order of the Thistle

St Andrew Pray for us


Know your Antipopes

Readers might - might - be forgiven for thinking that Antipopes are a feature of Papal history from the latter part of the first millennium, or from the clash of Papacy and Empire over the matter of Investiture, or from the Great Schism and the Conciliar era. The conventional historical case would point to ‘Felix V’ of the House of Savoy - elected by the Council of Basle - as the last Antipope, and that was in the mid-fifteenth century.

However this is not case. I recall a discussion in my early days in Oxford about the several claimants to the Papal throne we could then call to mind. A conversation yesterday led me to a Wikipedia article which catalogues the recent and current Antipopes - or if you are a follower of one or other of them, the true Pope - and here I was surprised to find just how many there are or have been in recent decades.

The plurality of ‘Peter II’ does not make for clarity, nor potentially perhaps for peace of mind, as Peter II is the name in the St Malachy prophetic tradition for the Pope of the End Times... Here too are Peter III, several Gregory XVIIs and Leo XIVs plus Alexander IX, Adrian VII, Clement XV, Linus II, Pius XIII, plus other names, some without precedent, in Papal history. All useful Catholic conversational trivia when passing the port...

The listings, divided between Concalvists and Mysticalists, can be seen at Conclavism

Lace in a Penitential Season

The Liturgical Arts Journal has a valuable discussion from Shawn Tribe as to whether it is appropriate, or indeed permissible, for clergy and servers to wear lace albs and trimming at the altar in the penitential seasons or at Masses for the Dead.

If to some this might appear abstruse, it is actually a fit topic in itself as to how appropriate honour is to be paid to the Sacrament and to the occasion in such seasons. It is also part of the wider topic of the extent to which due dignity is lent to public worship. It might be seen as an appropriate reflection for Advent - how should we ceremonially mark Advent? How do we understand the importance of how liturgy is performed and presented?

The carefully researched post can be read at The Use (Or Not) of Lace in Penitential Times

Minor Orders and the Subdiaconate

The distinguished liturgical scholar Peter Kwasniewski has an interesting post on the New Liturgical Movement website today about the current status of Minor Orders and of the Subdiaconate. The canonical uncertainty - not to mention the liturgical uncertainty - that has surrounded their status since 1973 is brought out well by the author and he indicates the conflicting lines of thought as to them, and maybe points to a way of resolving the ambiguity.

In recent years I - and many others - have attended Masses at which the Minor Orders were duly conferred on candidates who subsequently proceeded to Major Orders. The tradition of the Minor Orders is certainly alive and well. 

This useful article can be read at On the Status of Minor Orders and the Subdiaconate

Sunday 29 November 2020

The Consecration of Buckfast Abbey

In my recent post The Consecration of Downside Abbey in 1935 I referred to the consecration of Buckfast Abbey in 1932 following its rebuilding by the monks. I have now found online some film of the procession on that occasion with Cardinal Bourne as the Papal Legate and consecrator. At the time the abbey church was complete although the tower was not to be completed until 1938. The church had not yet received its distinctive stained glass made by one of the monks, nor the rather doubtful addition of an eastern chapel in the 1960s. In recent years work has been done installing cosmat-style flooring beyond the original sanctuary area. 

As with both the images and commentary from Downside three years later one is struck by the seeming strength and confidence of the Benedictines at that time. 

The film, from British Pathe can be viewed at A Dream Comes True! (1932).

Illuminated Charters

I recently came across an article about the reasons and way in which medieval charters were decorated by artists. The specific examples cited are Livonian and in particular the piece has a discussion of the reasons why what were practical medieval legal instruments were so frequently illustrated and decorated right across Europe.

The article, from Medieval Art Research, can be seen at Why Put Artwork All Over Your Document? Querying Illuminated Charters

Saturday 28 November 2020

Irish Standing Crosses - and more besides

Perusing the Internet as one does in the current situation I came across an online article from the Irish Times by Roger Stalley relating to a book he has produced on the sculpted early medieval standing crosses of Ireland - notably those at Monasterboice in County Louth. The very useful article can be seen at Ireland’s high crosses: medieval art and engineering

Similar crosses are, of course, to be found at Iona, at Ruthwell and Bewcastle in what are now the Anglo-Scottish borders, further south in northern England and, once upon a time, at Reculver in Kent where they were seemingly venerated as relics in the sixteenth century.

I have posted before about Northumbrian examples in 2014, although unfortunately it appears that the images have disappeared from the post. It can be read at The Dream of the Rood

Friday 27 November 2020

Oxburgh Revisited

Yesterday I booked myself into an online seminar from the Warburg Institute that was accessible through Zoom. The speaker was Anna Forrest who was talking about the discoveries under the attic floorboards at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk during restoration work on the roofs. This process is continuing and it is hoped that more discoveries will be made. 

Oxborough Hall.jpg

Oxburgh Hall
Image: Wikipedia 

The ancestral home of the Bedingfield family who built it in 1482 Oxburgh is notable both as an example of a late medieval brick built moated fortified manor house and as a Catholic home throughout its history. Material from the Bedingfeld family archives, which is currently on display at the Hall indicates the importance of the family as leaders amongst the Catholic Norfolk gentry as supporters and servants of Queen Mary I and as committed recusants under the succeeding Elizabethan settlement. Oxburgh still has a priest hole, which is thought to be the work of St Nicholas Owen.

When these discoveries of fragments of manuscript, music and fabrics were first publicised in August I posted about them in Relics of recusant life at Oxburgh Hall

Dr Tessa Murdoch from the V&A gave a response to the seminar paper and wrote an article about the finds in Apollo which can be seen at https://www.apollo-magazine.com/rats-nests-bedingfeld-history-oxburgh-hall/



The Catholic and Royalist Sir Henry Bedingfeld and his family sheltered by the Virgin Mary during the Civil War

Image: Sir Henry Bedingfield Bt/ National Trust/ Church Times

The Times earlier this year had an article about the third baronet and his Jacobite activities in 1745 which can be read at Sir Henry Bedingfield: National Trust unmasks landowner who spied for Bonnie Prince Charlie

Meat eating in the later Middle Ages

The website Medievalists.net has an interesting article which challenges the oft-expressed view that meat in the medieval period was very much for the rich rather than the commonality of people. Using statistical evidence gleaned from taxation records and household accounts in Catalonia and England the author suggests that considerably more meat was consumed on a daily basis in the fifteenth century ( and by implication earlier on ) than would be normative today.

I suppose that the quality was more variable than today, and before high meat yielding animals were selectively bred from the eighteenth century, the weight per animal would be lower. The fat content might have been higher, or the meat more scraggy, but I am sure medieval cooks knew how to be creative.

It is a further corrective or emendation to the frequently expressed idea that medieval life was drab and  always at subsistence level for the overwhelming majority of the population.

Thursday 26 November 2020

Identifying the Holy House in Nazareth

The website of the MailonLine, as well as that of The Timesrecently had a report about a long-running and significant archaeological project in Nazareth which has examined the site and remains of what is believed, or argued, to be the Holy House. 

Reading the account the evidence appears, from memory, to fit with the discussion of the site in Michael Hesemann’s Mary of Nazareth: History, Archaeology, Legends ( Ignatius Press 2016 ) - a compelling and fascinating book which I highly recommend - and indeed with the story, as well as the surviving evidence about the Holy House of Loretto.

The Cult of St Catherine

Yesterday was the Feast of St Catherine. An especially popular saint in the medieval period personal devotion to her has declined in more recent centuries. 

Here in Oxford Catte Street - once the street of the scriveners - recalls her (“Kate Street”) as the patron of students, philosophers and intellectuals - and from that in a roundabout way came the name of what is now the twentieth century foundation of St Catherine’s College.

Two blog posts which were published yesterday reflected on her legenda and its pertinence today. The Liturgical Arts Journal has a piece about changing attitudes to devotion to her in the later middle ages and during the sixteenth century. It can be seen at St Catherine of Alexandria in the Counter-Reformation

On The Hermeneutic of Continuity Fr Tim Finigan reflects on how we need to recover the messages of the story of St Catherine. His article can be read at Saint Catherine, a patron much needed today

I also came across a post about traditional French practices to honour or remember St Catherine which can be seen at Saint Catherine’s Day CustomsI do not think the role of St Catherine as a patron of millers should mystify the author - the mill wheels and mill stones are a reminder of her attempted martyrdom, and the risk of mill stones shattering reminiscent of that other wheel Maxentius had intended to use on the Saint.

Saturday 21 November 2020

Laudes Regiae

The Liturgical Arts Journal website has an interesting article for the Feast of Christ the King by the Oxford based music historian Thomas Neal. In it, the second of three articles, he writes about the music appropriate to the Feast of Christ the King - be it EF or OF - and discusses how the ancient text, and chants, of the Laudes Regiae can be, and have been, adopted for the modern feast instituted in 1925. The distinctive refrain of Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat! used in medieval Royal liturgical acclamations, and as an inscription on some French royal coin issues in the eighteenth century, has found a new performance space to celebrate the Kingship of Christ.

The article can be seen at Christus Vincit! Music for the feast of 
Christ the King (Part 2 of 2) This has a useful bibliography for those who wish to explore the subject further

Friday 20 November 2020

St Edmund and his cult at St Edmundsbury - and in Ireland

Today has been the Feast of St Edmund King and Martyr. I have posted about him and his cult, together with illustrations, at some length  in previous years and thought that providing a link to those posts might be of interest to readers.

They can be seen at St Edmund from 2010, The Bury St Edmunds Cross from 2012 and  St Edmund and his abbey from 2014.


St Edmund crowned by Angels
From a Bury St Edmunds manuscript of circa 1130
Pierpoint Morgan Library New York

Image: Wikipedia

In more recent years I came across a feature of his cult that I had hitherto been unaware of - that is devotion to him in medieval Ireland. If St Edward the Confessor was an exemplar and patron for the English crown then it appears St Edmund was adopted as a patron by the Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Irish of the medieval Lordship of Ireland. This explains the coat of arms assigned to it of azure three crowns or - either two and one or in pile - and used down to the constitional changes wrought by the 1541 Parliament.

The centre of his cult in Ireland appears to have been at Athassel Priory in Tipperary which possessed what was claimed to be a miracle working statue of the saint. This cult has recently attracted scholarly attention from Dr Francis King, and he has an illustrated article about his research and its publication on his blog at Publication of Athassel Priory and the Cult of St Edmund in Medieval Ireland

Athassel Abbey

Athassel Priory

Image: wmf.org

Something that I gleaned from this, which I had not realised before, is that the name Eamonn is the Irish version of Edmund.

St Edmund from the Wilton Diptych.
The classic depiction of St Edmund as a royal saint for a royal patron, King Richard II

Image: Pinterest 

St Edmund, Pray for us

St Stephen’s Chapel Westminster

The assiduous Special Correspondent followed  the link I reposted in my last piece with another very interesting piece about a royal chapel in London. This is an interactive online account of  the medieval chapel of St Stephen in the Palace of Westminster and its transformation after 1547 into the House of Commons, a role it fulfilled until the fire of 1834 destroyed it. 

The work behind the account is from a joint academic project on the history of the Chapel. The medieval lower chapel, designed for the household, was restored after 1834 and is now the chapel of the House of Commons, whilst the upper chapel was reconstructed as St Stephen’s Hall, linking the extended south end of Westminster Hall to the Central Lobby.

The component parts of the study, which includes music associated with the late medieval liturgy of this royal chapel, can be accessed at Visualizing St Stephen's

The Queen’s Chapel

The Special Correspondent sent me this really excellent online account of the history, architecture and furnishings of The Queen’s Chapel at St James’s Palace. It is from the blog Vitruvius Hibernicus and is the best account I have come across of the building, and of its place in the culture of the Stuart Court, and indeed of its use by the Hanoverians and in more recent centuries.

The article, which is quite lengthy and very well illiterated can be viewed at Consorting with the Enemy: The Queen’s Chapel at St James’s Palace

Medieval palimpsests face modern technology

The MailOnline has an interesting article about modern technology developed by students at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York which can reveal lost texts on parchment that had been cleaned and reused in the medieval period. The article can be seen at Students discover hidden message behind 15th century manuscript

Tuesday 17 November 2020

The Consecration of Downside Abbey in 1935

A friend has sent me the link to a British Pathe film of the external procession at the consecration of the abbey church at Downside in 1935. The officiant and Papal representative was H.E. the Cardinal Prince Primate of Hungary and Archbishop of Esztergom Jusztinián György Serédi OSB, who was formerly a monk of Pannonhalma.

There is a life of the Cardinal at Jusztinián György Serédi

The friend who sent the link commented as to how sharply this contrasts with the recent decision to move away from Downside by the remaining monks. I commented about this decision in September in Downside Abbey and in Downside Abbey - a further thought

Three years beforehand in 1932 the rebuilt church of the abbey at Buckfast had also been consecrated and the sense that monastic life had a certainty and a future in this country must have been strong, as is indeed suggested in the film commentary.

The link to the film of the consecration can be found at Downside Abbey (1935)

Monday 16 November 2020

Wentworth Woodhouse: A House and its Follies

I have posted in past years about the spectacular country house Wentworth Woodhouse, which stands in my home area of the West Riding of Yorkshire. At long last its future appears secure and restoration of the vast building is taking place as funds become available.

The Historic Houses blog had two articles about the estate last July. One, Wentworth Woodhouselooks at the history of the house and its owners, and the second at five of the buildings - follies, although one is a Mausoleum - which ornament the estate. It can be seen at The Follies of Wentworth Woodhouse and has some good photographs to illustrate it.

The story of the rise of Wentworth Woodhouse and it owners, but, more sombrely, of its and their  decline in the twentieth century, can be read in Catherine Bailey’s Black Diamonds.

That book helped bring attention to the house which is one of the great but little known treasures of Yorkshire and of the eighteenth century. Fifty and more years of inaccessibility and decay have given it an enigmatic and secret quality that is now being made available to visitors and the wider public.

The survival and rescue of this outstanding building, its follies and parkland against the odds is something we should all appreciate and give thanks for.

Saturday 14 November 2020

The Poetry of Lockdown

A friend shared this with me:



A Brief Pageant of English Verse

I won’t arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
I’ll sanitize the doorknob and make a cup of tea.
I won’t go down to the sea again; I won’t go out at all,
I’ll wander lonely as a cloud from the kitchen to the hall.
There’s a green-eyed yellow monster to the north of Katmandu
But I shan’t be seeing him just yet and nor, I think, will you.
While the dawn comes up like thunder on the road to Mandalay
I’ll make my bit of supper and eat it off a tray.
I shall not speed my bonnie boat across the sea to Skye
Or take the rolling English road from Birmingham to Rye.
About the woodland, just right now, I am not free to go
To see the Keep Out posters or the cherry hung with snow,
And no, I won’t be travelling much, within the realms of gold,
Or get me to Milford Haven. All that’s been put on hold.
Give me your hands, I shan’t request, albeit we are friends
Nor come within a mile of you, until this trial ends.

Wednesday 11 November 2020

A Sermon for Martinmas

For today’s Feast of St Martin the liturgical website Canticum Salamonis has a post which is the translation of a sermon by Honorius Augustodunensis ( c.1080-1154 ), and which the site has illustrated with some fine works of art telling the story of St Martin. The text, which recounts the life of St Martin and some of his miracles in a classic example of Honorius’ style, and the related images, can be seen at November 2020 – Canticum Salomonis

Taking Possession of the Lateran

Having written yesterday a few thoughts about the Archbasilica and Palace of the Lateran I recalled I had links to two articles by Zachary Thomas from the Liturgical Arts Journal, and which had been previously published on Canticum Salamonis, about the ancient ceremonies connected with a newly-elected Pope taking possession of his cathedral church, whether he was crowned there or at St Peter’s, or indeed elsewhere. It became the custom for the Pope after his crowning at the Vatican to process across Rome to the Lateran to take charge of the Archbasilica. Today the modified ceremony usually takes place a day or two later than the Coronation or ‘Inauguration’ ( sic).

As ceremonies they might seem somewhat unusual to a modern eye. Not being an advocate of change in such matters that does not trouble me, but rather one sees their distinctive nature as an insight into the development of the Papacy in the first millennium.

The first article in the series dealt with the flax burning ceremony associated with the Pspal Coronation, which is not specifically linked to the Lateran.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

The Lateran

Yesterday was the Feast of the Dedication of the Archbasilica of the Lateran, or, to give it its full title, as cited by Wikipedia, the Major Papal, Patriarchal and Roman Archbasilica Cathedral of the Most Holy Saviour and Saints Johnthe Baptist and the Evangelist in Lateran, Mother and Head of All Churches in Rome and in the World.

From the time of its gift by the Emperor Constantine to the Church until the death of Pope Benedict XI in 1304 it was the usual residence of the Pope and the seat of his administration. Due to its dilapidation it was not used as the principle residence of the Popes when they returned to Rome in 1376, and definitively in 1420, although it continued to be the cathedral of the See of Rome, with a rebuilt palace alongside and since 1929 has been an extraterritorial propert of the Holy See.

source: augustineofcanterbury.org
The Lateran at the beginning of the fourteenth century
A reconstruction from 1905. The view is from the north as, like the other great Roman basilicas it is aligned west-east, not east-west.

Image: Look and Learn

There is an illustrated online istory of the Archbasilica at Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran and one of the attached Papal Palace at Lateran Palace

Details of some features of the medieval palace can be found in the articles below. However I think that at times they confuse two major public spaces of the palace - the hall built by Pope Leo III in the time of the Emperor Charlemagne, and in which met the Lateran Councils, and which is in the centre of the picture above, and the dining hall, the Triclinium, also built by Pope Leo, which was in the Papal apartments on the left. The articles can be seen in at Rome: Triclinium Leoninum and at Rome: Triclinium LeoninumThere is also a relevant post from the RadTrad about the Lateran complex which can be seen here

In the foreground can be seen the Benediction Loggia added by Pope Boniface VIII ( 1294-1303 ) and which is depicted in the remains of a fresco in St John Lateran and whose complete design is known from copies.

Giotto - Bonifatius VIII.jpg

The remains of Giotto’s fresco of Pope Boniface VIII in the Benedction Loggia
Image: Wikipedia 

The Lateran from the north showing Pope Boniface VIII’s loggia, the Hall of Pope Leo III, the transept facade and to the right the Lateran
A drawing by Maarten Heemskerk (1498-1574)
Image: akg Images

A drawing by Grimaldi showing the medieval palace
Image: Macro Typography blogspot

Sunday 8 November 2020

Remembrance Sunday in Oxford

Given the current restrictions I had to attend the Solemn Requiem for Remembrance Sunday at the Oxford Oratory through livestream, but the liturgy in the Extraordinary Form was as beautiful and fitting in its restrained dignity as ever.

My friend Tony Morris had a post about war memorials in Oxford both for the city and for the colleges and schools on his blog Morris Oxford. He writes about the Bonn Square memorial to the Tirah campaign on the North West frontier of 1897-8 as well as those to the Great War. Amongst these which he illustrates is that to three German members of New College who died in the war and which is a moving example of how college links transcend so much more here in Oxford. He also has the memorial to old pupils of the Dragon School, which brought to mind John Betjeman’s memory of the announcements of their deaths when he was at the school in Summoned by Bells. It can be seen at Bonn Bones

He also sent me the following piece from 2018 about my college Oriel’s commemoration of the 163 members who were killed in the First World War in the form of a grove of 163 trees at Iffley. It also has a link about the edition of the letters written by Provost Phelps to the families of those killed which were published as A Provost’s War by Oriel. It can be seen at World War I Centenary: Remembering Oriel's Fallen

Saturday 7 November 2020

More about the Greenwich Tiltyard

Having written in Greenwich Palace about the identification of the site of the tiltyard at the complex I have now found an article on LifeScience Essentials which gives more details about the history and nature of the buildings. It can be seen at Jousting yard where Henry VIII nearly died just discovered 5 feet under.

The Smithsonian website also has an article about the tiltyard discovery which can be seen at Researchers Find Remnants of Jousting Field Where Henry VIII Almost Died

Friday 6 November 2020

More about the Byland ghosts

Further to my post Ghost stories from fourteenth century Yorkshire about a collection of ghost stories written down by a Cistercian monk of Byland Abbey in Yorkshire about 1400 I see that the British Library’s Medieval manuscripts blog has a very useful commentary on the stories and draws out how they had a didactic purpose in promoting confession and repentance, as well as being recorded, or at  least located, in local villages. The illustrated blog post can be seen at Byland Abbey ghost stories: a guide to medieval ghosts

A medieval mason shows his face at Compostela

The discovery of what appears to be a self-portrait by one of the twelfth century sculptors engaged in carving capitals for the nave of the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela has been picked up by two websites. Described - slightly tiresomely in my opinion - as a medieval “selfie” it can be seen and is discussed in an article from The Guardian at A selfie set in stone: hidden portrait by cheeky mason found in Spain 900 years on, and in one from LifeScience Essentials at Long-hidden 'selfie' of a medieval mason found in historic Spanish cathedral

The pilgrimage and shrine at Santiago was supported and encouraged by the Cluniac Benedictines and along the land routes to Galicia through southern France and northern Spain are numerous examples of sculpture in the Cluniac tradition. This distinctive style - almost a brand identification for the Cluniac and their spirituality - is illustrated by many of the photographs in this link here on Pinterest including the great west portal of the cathedral at Compostela.

Thursday 5 November 2020

A crucifix linked to Bl. Edward Oldcorne

Today being the anniversary of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 is an appropriate occasion to link to an article on the BBC News website about a crucifix which has gone on display at the Bar Convent in York. It is associated with Bl. Edward Oldcorne ( 1561-1606) who was born and initially educated in York, and who was one of those swept up and executed by the authorities in the aftermath of the Plot. The illustrated article can be seen at Crucifix linked to Gunpowder Plot goes on display in York

Edward Oldcorne 1608.jpg

Bl. Edward Oldcorne
Image: Wikipedia 

There is a biography of Bl. Edward at Edward OldcorneThis has links to the lives of others involved in his story and places with which he was associated.

Hindlip Hall before its destruction by fire in the early nineteenth century

Image: Wikipedia 

One of these is Hindlip Hall near Worcester where he and others, including Fr Henry Garnett and St Nicholas Owen were arrested. The house with its great array of priest holes was unfortunately destroyed by fire in the early nineteenth century and replaced by a new house. The Wikipedia article about the house can be seen at Hindlip Hall

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Momento Mori Funerary Banners

One of the pieces of seasonal paraphernalia that appears at All Souls and through November for the Masses of the Dead at the Oxford Oratory is a handsome and dignified black banner with a depiction in silver embroidery of the Cross and Suderium. Last August Shawn Tribe had a post on his Liturgical Arts Journal site about such banners, illustrated with nineteenth century examples from Italy which can be seen at Funerary Processional Banners with Memento Mori

Commemorating All Saints and All Souls

After two Solemn EF Masses at the Oxford Oratory for the Dead - last night for All Souls and this evening the annual one for Deceased Fathers and Brothers of the Oratory - I feel their austere and timeless beauty, together with the absolutions at the cataphalque, has got me firmly into the mood for the November concern to pray for the departed.

The Medieval Histories site had further material for this season beyond the ghost stories from Byland which I linked to on All Saints Day, and I think these are worth sharing together with some additions.

The origins and development of the regular commemoration of the departed in November are considered in Souling and the contribution of the great abbey of Cluny in the eleventh century is examined at Saints and SoulsThe medieval experience of these things in Poland is discussed in Living with the Dead

The tradition of baking Soul Cakes to be given out to those who came around the houses of a community offering to pray for the departed in return is considered at Sweets for All Souls
and, complete with fourteenth century recipes at Soul Cakes

More recipes for Soul Cakes, and how to bake them, can be found on YouTube at Samhain Soul Cakes Recipie and, using a late sixteenth or early seventeenth century English recipe, from the engaging Max Miller of Tasting History at Soul Cakes & Trick-or-Treating

It would be rather nice to see a revival of such things to mark the season. Maybe, when ( if?) we return to ‘normal’ ways churches could take the lead and distribute these scone-like cakes after All Souls Day Masses.

Sunday 1 November 2020

Ghost stories from fourteenth century Yorkshire

Yesterday was a Halloween and to mark the occasion Medieval Histories sent round an article about a collection of twelve ghost stories written down by a Cistercian monk of Byland Abbey in Yorkshire about 1400. There is an introduction to them and a link to the text in translation of the stories from the publication in 1922 of the manuscript by the great scholar and connoisseur of ghost stories M.R.James and a related translation from 1924 at Byland Abbey Ghosts — Medieval Histories

Quite apart from their entertainment value and the fact that they give an insight into medieval life, the stories have the additional feature that they are frequently linked to specific places close to Byland - Ampleforth, Gilling, Ayton in Cleveland and Newburgh Priory - and that is both interesting as locating such stories and as an insight into the community that surrounded the abbey.

Stock Photo: Byland Abbey, North Yorkshire. Reconstruction drawing by Alan Sorrell showing the abbey as it might have appeared in the year 1539.

A reconstruction of Byland Abbey by Alan Sorrell

Image: English Heritage/ Age Fotostock

There is more about the physical setting of Byland in its medieval heyday in this article from 2008 about the monastic achievement in land drainage and fishponds around the abbey at New Research Suggests Byland Abbey In Yorkshire Was Grandest In The North