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 20 May 2024

An apology regarding the delay to the Marian Pilgrimage

Regular readers will have seen that I did not post yesterday or today. This is because eatly on Pentecost morning at about 3am after a shockingly viivid nightmare experience which I was attempting to understand I collapsed suddenly in my living room. Very fortunately I did not fracture my arthritic hips, or anything else, but I spent much of the next five or so hours wriggling across the floor to a chair to try to haul myself up, without final success. At 8.20am I phoned for help from the property manager and she called the paramedics. Since then I have been in hospital, Thr suggestion is that I was suffering from an infection which is now hopefully clearing.

Hospital gives one a lot of time in bed but it is not conducive to writing up these posts. Once I am home I wil resume these Marian posts, so the Pilgrimage will extend into June. At least none of us are attempting to do the Pilgrimage physically on the assigned day!

Saturday 18 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Doncaster

The Pilgrimage remains in Yorkshire as it journeys south to Doncaster and the Carmeliteriary and to its statue of Our Lady of Doncaster.

I set out the history of the friary and of the devotion and its fate at the dissolution in my 2020 post which can be viewed at Our Lady of Doncaster

It also describes how in recent decades this devotion has been revived in the Catholic Church of St Peter’s Chains in the city centre.

May Our Lady of Doncaster pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Friday 17 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady on Wakefield Bridge

The Pilgrimage now returns to Yorkshire and the remarkable survival that is the Chantry Chapel of Our Lady on Wakefield Bridge. Like Edmund Waterton I have more than a passing interest - pun intended - about the small chapel on the bridge into and out of Wakefield. 

I explain this and give a quite detailed account of the Chapel in my first post about it in 2020. That can be viewed at Our Lady on the Bridge at Wakefield

May Our Lady of Wakefield Bridge pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Chester

Like the previous post in this series this is an addition to the original list, and derived from Waterton’s work. The statue of Our Lady of Chester stood in the south choir aisle of what was, until late in 1541, the abbey church of St Werbergh.
The statue stood by the head of the tomb of the local saintly hermit Goddesdald was apparently very popular and wrought many miracles.

According to a source cited by Waterton, it was believed on one occasion to have spoken and gestured. This was at a time when other local religious communities were disputing the claims of the Carmelites to be especially beloved of the Virgin on the basis that when any of the Carmelites’ friends fell ill that they all died. During a procession of the faithful organised by the Abbot of St Werbergh’s the statue extended its arm and addressed the passing Carmelites  saying “Behold my brothers, behold my brothers, behold my beloved and chosen brothers”

The not always very peaceful life of the fAndy can be read in VCH Cheshire vol iii (1980) at 

May Our Lady of Chester pray for The King and for all the Royal Family and for us all

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Brougham

Some miles away across the Fells on the northern border of Westmorland stand the still impressive ruins of Brougham Castle and it was after he had visited it in the 1540s that John Leland noted “About a dim from the castell there is a village called Burgham, and ther is a gret pilgrimage to our Ladye”. 

Waterton printed this statement in his list of statues, devotions and pilgrimages, but obviously could find nothing more. My fairly rudimentary search has not yielded anything. From what Leland says I think he must be referring to the old parish church of Brougham, which is at some distance from the village and castle. Known as Ninekirks it is dedicated to St Ninian, which suggests considerable antiquity, and the churchyard has yielded evidence of what appears to have been an early Christian monastic site. The church itself, which has some medieval grave slabs from its predecessor, was rebuilt in the 1650s by the formidable Lady Anne Clifford. It is believed, or claimed, to be one of only three churches to have been built in that sterile decade.

There are online websites about the church at 

Ninekirks from WikipediaSt Ninian's Church, Brougham, Cumbria

from Visit ChurchesNinekirks from Great English ChurchesSt Ninians Church Ninekirks steeped in Brougham history

from All things Brougham, Brougham St Ninian's Church from Visit Cumbria,  Brougham, St Ninian Ninekirk Church, Penrith, Cumbria from Britain Express and  Touching the lost past of Ninekirks from bitaboutBritain


Whatever the pilgrimage recorded by Leland it was clearly one in a series of events on a site long established for Christian worship.

 May Our Lady of Brougham pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Thursday 16 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Furness

Both Jesmond and Furness are additions I have made to the original list, and in both instances there are remains of the medieval buildings.

The recorded story of the Shrne of Our Lady of Furness can be found at Our Lady of Furness

May Our Lady of Furness pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Jesmond

The ruins of the pilgrim chapel at Jesmond in the suburb ms of Newcastle upon Tyne are still a focus for pilgrims and are a significant survival architecturally. My original post about the chapel and pilgrimage can be seen at St Mary’s Chapel Jesmond

May Our Lady of Jesmond pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Bolton in Durham Cathedral

Beyond the Galilee in the choir of the cathedral at Durham was another much venerated statue of Our Lady - that of Our Lady of Bolton.

My two posts that discuss the statue can both be accessed from Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Bolton in Durham Cathedral
May Our Lady of Bolton pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Pity in the Galilee at Durham

The Pilgrimage has now moved to the north-east and reassembles in the wonderful late twelfth century Galilee Chapel at the west end of the cathedral in Durham.

My original post about this devotion can be accessed in a post from the following year, together with the link to a recent thesis on devotional images in the later middle ages in Yok Minster and Durham Cathedral, at Our Lady of Pity in the Galilee at Durham

May Our Lady of Pity pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Wednesday 15 May 2024

The Battle of Hexham 1464

Today is the 560th anniversary of the Battle of Hexham in 1464. Although not one of the principal battles of those years, and one of which little is known with certainty it did nonetheless mark a stage in the conflict and the effective end of organised Lancastrian resistance to Yorkist rule in Northumberland. What remained was cleared away in the following weeks and the leadership executed. For the next four years only Harlech Castle in North Wales remained defiantly Lancastrian. 

A decade ago I wrote a piece about the battle for this blog which can stil be seen at The Battle of Hexham

Apart from a few tiresome typos and the fact that most of the links no longer work I think it still worth looking at to introduce the battle and to assess its consequences.
To replace the lapsed links the Wikipedia lives of the two commanders are worth looking at. The one of the Yorkist  John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu is lengthy and detailed, that of Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset less satisfying as Somerset’s relatively short career deserves retelling his role as politician, military commander, diplomat, jouster and active partisan in more detail. It makes makes him a character worthy of fiction - much as most historical fiction should be avoided. It is through his one illegitimate son that the Beaufort bloodline survived in the male line, and was to be one of the sources for identifying King Richard III. The Dukes of Beaufort are all descended from him, and he their male line link to the tenth century Counts of Anjou. 

Somerset and Montagu were related - Montagu’s grandmother was Somerset’s great aunt - and Montagu’s brother Warwick the Kingmaker was married to Somerset’s mother’s younger half-sister. That relationship and the disputed Warwick inheritance helped align tha two families on different sides as conflict developed.

Most accounts of these localised but fascinating canpaigns usually conclude with the reflection that life was now peaceful under King Edward IV but with Lancastrian plots being detected by late 1468. It was not until until Warwick and Montagu finally broke with him in 1469 that the weakness of his rule was exposed. However the seeds of that were certainly sown by May 1464 with the Nevilles feeling unrewarded for their efforts against the remaining Lancastrians, and, most damaging, the marriage on May 1 1464 of the Yorkist King to Lady Grey, Elizabeth Woodville. By so doing so, secretly and possibly bigamously, as he journeyed north to witness the end, as he doubtless expected, of the Lancastrians, King Edward had unconsciously set in motion the forces that were to destroy his own dynasty.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Abingdon

The Pilgrimage now takes one of its random day excursions, in this case returning to the Thames Valley to visit Abingdon Abbey, but then departing for the north-east, before returning a third time to the Thames….

The destination is the Shrine of Our Lady of Abingdon in the Benedictine foundation there. Little remains of the abbey itself in the park on the site in the town centre. What I could glean from various sources about the devotion to Our Lady there is set out at Our Lady of Abingdon from 2020 and Our Lady of Abingdon from 2021. I also wrote about the re-establishment of the shrine in the Catholic Church in the town in the twentieth century.

Waterton records that he accept chronicle attribued the right to go on pilgrimage to Abingdon to grants from King Edward the Martyr (975-978) and Archbishop St Dunstan (d,988).

May Our Lady of Abingdon pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Clare

The return of a Catholic religious community to the medieval friary buildings at Clare in the twentieth century led to a revival of pilgrimage, and the renewal of devotion to Our Lady. The medieval friary belonged to the Augustinian Friars and was their headquarters. The history of the house ti 1538 is set out at Austin friaries: Clar in the VCH Suffolk ii 

Many of the pilgrims who visited went because of the noble dead who were buried there.

My first post about this is from 2022 and can be seen at Our Lady of Clare

The second is from last year and can be read at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Clare

May Our Lady of Clare pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Sudbury

Turning west and south to the southern boundary of Suffolk with Essex brings the Pilgrimage to the town of Sudbury. Here was another local shrine which nevertheless attracted interest from further afield. It is one of many such to attract an offering from Queen Elizabeth of York in 1502 Indeed that list is a valuable indicator of the popularity of these  smaller shrines at that time.

I wrote about the history and restoration of the Shrine in 2021 in Our Lady of Sudbury

May Our Lady of Sudbury pray for The King and for all the Royal Family and for us all

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Woodbridge

Further to the east in Suffolk lies the town of Woodbridge where according to Waterton there was in the churchyard wall of the Augustinian Priory a statue of Our Lady which was much resorted to on account of its miraculous powers. This appears to be all that is recorded about it.

Founded in 1193 and suppressed in 1537 the priory was quite small and clearly localised in its interests. 

The description of the priory by both the VCH Suffolk at Houses of Austin canons: Priory of Woodbridge and on Wikipedia at Woodbridge Priory make no mention of such a statue or devotion. Since 1864 the site of the priory has been occupied by Woodbridge School.

May Our Lady of Woodbridge pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Woolpit

Returning to Suffolk the Pilgrimage now goes to Woolpit, midway between Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich.

My post from 2021 serves as an introduction and can be seen at Our Lady of Woolpit

My earlier post from 2020 gives more of the history, so far as it is known of the shrine and it can be seen at Our Lady of Woolpit

Waterton was of the view that the statue and chapel were on the south side of the church rather than the north. This point is discussed further in the Wikipedia article linked to infra. He cites, as do other writers about the shrine, testamentary bequests from local people and one of these refers to a newly constructed tabernacle for the statue in 1451. From these bequests it can be seen that there was also a statue of Our Lady of Pity in the church.

Wikipedia has an illustrated account of the church at Saint Mary's Church, Woolpit
There is another, more detailed, account with more illustrations from Britain Express at Woolpit, St Mary's Church, Suffolk | History & Photos This seems to establish that the Shrine of Out Lady was in existence by 1211.

May Our Lady of Woolpit pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Ely

The next station on the Pilgrimage is Ely Cathedral and the statue of Our Lady. 

Before the great Benedictine abbey became home to a new diocese in 1109 it was recognised as a pilgrimage centre not only for the relics of St Etheldreda but also to a statue of the Virgin and Child. Decorated with gold and jewels by the reign of King Cnut (1016-35 ) these adornments were stripped from it to pay fines to King William I after the rebellion of Hereward the Wake. This is recorded by Waterton in his book.

Given the wealth of the medieval Fens and the great revenues of the cathedral and bishopric of Ely I cannot but believe that new gifts came to the statue.

There is more about the tradition and about the glorious, yet wounded, Lady Chapel built in the early fourteenth century in my original post ftom 2020 which can be seen at Our Lady of Ely

May Our Lady of Ely pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Marian Pilgrimage - multiplicity of shrines

For those of my readers who are following this very curious route devised by Canon Stevenson around Marian England this is to point out that today and Thursday there will be four separate shrines and there will be similar multiples on other days. This is in an attempt to preserve the essential unity of the original route whilst accommodating additional shrines.  As there are a few extra visits this year the dates will be a little busier but, rest assured, God and Our Lady willing, we shall arrive all together at Walsingham on May 31st.

Monday 13 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Thetford

The statue of Our Lady of Thetford in the Cluniac priory on the edge of the town was a later development than some others on the Pilgrimage, being a new focus on a rich array of neglected relics. The fact that the story of how the devotion was established adds considerably to its interest, with its vignettes of medieval life.
I have a short introduction from 2022 to the devotion at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Thetford and a much longer account which I wrote in 2020 at Our Lady of ThetfordLike Waterton this drew upon a Cambridge MS which is quoted extensively in the VCH Norfolk vol ii.

May Our Lady of Thetford pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Sunday 12 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Grace at Ipswich

The Pilgrimage now returns to East Anglia, and to the famous Shrine of Our Lady of Grace at Ipswich. 

There is an introduction to the Shrine from last year at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Grace at Ipswich

My longer account and discussion of the shrine from 2021 has links which demonstrates how the votive statue may have survived, and still serves as a focus of devotion at Nettuno on the Italian coast. It also covers the modern re-establishment of the shrine in St Mary at Elms in Ipswich. This can all be seen at Our Lady of Grace of Ipswich

May Our Lady of Grace at Ipswich pray for the King and all the Royal Family and for us all 

Saturday 11 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Coventry

The Pilgrimage now veers off into the Midlands  before returning to East Anglia tomorrow. Today’s destination is the Shrine of Our Lady of Coventry which was in the medieval cathedral priory lost at the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.

My post about the devotion and the new statue on the site of the cathedral, from 2021, can be seen at Our Lady of Coventry

Waterton has a lengthy section about thic Coventry shrine, most of it about the foundation and endowments of the Benedictine house by Earl Leofric and Countess Godgifu ( Godiva ). He mentions in particular the chaplet of jewels created by Godgifu and used rather like a rosary. She bequeathed this to this Coventry image of Our Lady. According to William of Malmesbury in the twelfth century it was valued at 100 marks
(  £66.13.4 ).

He also mentions offerings to the statue of Our Lady in the Tower, which may have been a shrine on the city walls. King Henry VIII made an offering in 1511.

May Our Lady of Coventry pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Friday 10 May 2024

King Louis XV

Today is the 250th anniversary of the death of King Louis XV in 1774.

King Louis XV
A 1748 portrait by Maurice-Quentin de La Tour
Image: Wikipedia 

He was 64, and had been King since he succeeded his great grandfather, King Louis XIV, in 1715 at the age of five and a half. 

There is a decent biography of him on Wikipedia which sets out the salient features of his reign and age, and which can be seen at Louis XV

To adequately begin to consider the reign would take far longer than I have time for here and now, but here are a few reflections from my point of view.

The historiography of his reign is very much in terms of his predecessors’ achievements and, inevitably, whether or to what extent he bares all, or much, or some, or none of the blame for the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. Nineteenth century French writers, often sympathetic to the ideas of 1789, or hardline social and moral conservatives deeply opposed to than, seeking for the origins of revolution see them everywhere in the Ancien Régime. As Wikipedia points out a modern, if minority, trend is to be favourable to him.

I am definitely inclined to exonerate the King. Eighteenth century Europe moved at different speeds - reforming and modernising systems that were old and slow - getting the balance right was difficult. An explosion of the entire political and social mechanism was always a risk, yet it did not happen until 1789, and then only in one country to then cause Europe-wide chaos.

I am inclined to see what happened in France as very much a typical failing of France or of the French political system. National folie de grandeur in 1848,1870, 1914,1940, 1958, and indeed in recent decades results in a great power with a self-belief out of touch with the real situation. Eighteenth century France was in advance of much of Europe and believing in what it had achieved did not always see the practical impact of or need for reform like its rival Austria faced with an existential crisis in the 1740s or Spain and Portugal later on realising they were slipping backwards.

The Wikipedia biography shows that King Louis XV did attempt reform - it was not the monarchy that sought to prevent it but rather the Parlements by resisting. Reform was pragmatic for the King, and not ideological. He did not see himself as a Philosopher King like King Frederick the Great or, later on, the Emperor Joseph II. 

It is possible to see France as complacent and intellectually self-indulgent in these years, but that is the country not its ruler. The Philosophes had an easy time in the reign with Mme. de Pompadour as a patron and advocate with the King.

If the Annales school are right - if - and all the issues are structures, then human agency is limited, as probably is awareness. We are all, to some extent, prisoners of our time and place, eighteenth century kings and lawyers, nobles and peasants alike - unless you have the Olympian detachment, blessed by hindsight, of an Annales historian.

French foreign policy remained in the mind set of the seventeenth century in many respects, gained little beyond Lorraine and Corsica, and preferred the Caribbean with its sugar to Canada in 1763. The many conflicts had little show for France as in 1783, save a weakened treasury. The contrast with Great Britain is instructive and to their fortunes over the next thirty or so years.

The Wikipedia entry describes the King’s feelings for his family - as an orphan bereft of close relatives his shyness and seeming lack of self belief alongside a resolve to maintain the constitutional rights of the Crown, and of the other components of the polity, and to resist unbalancing these, may well lie in the concatenation of death which surrounded his early years and accession. 

Perhaps less concern with who King Louis had as his mistress and more with the day to day issues of governance he faced would help to reassess him.

A friend pointed out to me that today is also the 230th anniversary of the death on the guillotine of the King’s granddaughter Mme.Elisabeth. The French Revolution was not just a tragedy for a nation or a system, it was a tragedy for the French Royal Family and for countless others across the nation. Far better the pragmatic muddling through of King Louis XV than the crazed ideology of Robespierre.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Grace in Cambridge

The Pilgrimage now crosses over to Cambridge and to the lost Shrine of Our Lady of Grace in the Dominican friary. The site is now occupied by the Elizabethan foundation of Emmanuel College.

My article about the statue from 2020 and an additional note from 2021 can be read at Our Lady of Grace in Cambridge and Our Lady of Grace in Cambridge respectively.

May Our Lady of Grace of Cambridge pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Thursday 9 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Oxford

The Pilgrimage now sets off towards the ancient Universirty cities, with Oxford the first destination. As I point out in my notes below there does not appear to have been a particular statue or image identified as Our Lady of Oxford in the Middle Ages, and each church doubtless had its own. However the likeliest candidate as the one to which St Edmund of Abingdon ‘betrothed’ himself seems to have been in St Mary’s parish church in the High, and the church used then and now by the University. Waterton suggests St Nicholas which was eventually taken over by the Dominicans but I would still favour St Mary’s as the church concerned. 

As Waterton says there were - and still are - many images of the Virgin in the churches of Oxford, but no single image was uniquely ‘Our Lady of Oxford’.

My main post about these statues was written in 2021 and can be seen at Our Lady of Oxford

I added a supplementary note last year at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Oxford

May Our Lady of Oxford pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Wednesday 8 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Muswell

The Pilgrimage now retraces its route and moves eastward from Islington to Muswell.

My first post about this site was written in 2020 in Our Lady of Muswell

The following year I wrote further about the link with King Malcolm IV in Our Lady of Muswell

Last year I added some more information and a link to a 1932 history of the Shrine. These features can be seen at Our Lady of Muswell

May Our Lady of Muswell pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Tuesday 7 May 2024

The Second Council of Lyon 1274

It was on this day in 1274 that Pope Gregory X opened the Second Council of Lyon. According to Western numbering it is the fourteenth Ecumenical Council.

Wikipedia has a useful introduction to the Council at Second Council of Lyon

Some of its achievements were short lived, notably the attempt to heal the Schism of 1054 between East and West. The Couuncil of Florence thought it too had achieved Union in 1439 but it again proved short lived. For all the discussion of recent decades it appears no closer now.

War in eastern Europe and the Middle East was not resolved, and we know today how endemic such conflicts spread to be.

Purgatory was well defined at Lyon, but it is a doctrine still rejected by many Protestants.

Nonetheless much was achieved or presrnted as achievements. However, with the benefits of hindsight we can see that an era in the Catholic Church and the Papal Monarchy was closing. The pontificate of Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) was to see the achievements of the past two and a half centuries challenged and shaken. As the Wikipedia article points out at Lyon II national delegations were emerging within the Universal Church.

The lead-up to Lyon II and the Council witnessed the deaths of St Thomas Aquinas and St Bonaventure. It also saw in its latter stages the confirmation of the election of a relatively unkown if ambitious Swiss-German noble as the first of his family to be King of the Romans. King Riudolf I of Habsburg and his successors acquitted themselves well in their newly acquired responsibilities.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Willesden

To the west of Islington and its shrine was the perhaps better known one of Our Lady of Willesden. This has been successfully revived by both the Anglican and Catholic parishes.

My article from 2022 about the Shrine also has a link to an additional piece I compiled citing the work of Michael Carter, another researcher on the topic, about some of these smaller medieval rural places of devotion besides Willesden. This can be seen at More on the rural London shrines of Our Lady

As a result this post, very much in the spirit of the original itinerary compiled by Canon Stephenson, now makes a dash across the Thames to include the ‘lost’ shrine of Our Lady of Crooms Hill on the western side of Greeenwich Park. I describe it as ‘lost’ but near its site is the very handsome Catholic Church of Our Ladye Star of the Sea designed by Pugin’s pupil William Wardell. There is an account of the church with relevant links at Our Ladye Star of the Sea

Returning to Willesden there is an illustrated wq as account of the history of the medieval shrine and of both its modern replacements from Wikipedia at Our Lady of Willesden
There is another introduction to the tradition of pilgrimage there at Our Lady of Willesden: The Black Madonna

My 2021 post about the Shrine can be seen at Our Lady of Willesden

The Anglican shrine of Our Lady of Willesden with the 1972 statue.
Image: Wikipedia 

May Our Lady of Willesden and Our Lady of Croom’s Hill pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all.

Monday 6 May 2024

Enrolling the Coronation

A year ago today it was the Coronation of Their Majesties The King and The Queen. 

In accordance with tradition going back to at least 1308 the official record of the day and ceremonies has now been compiled and last week it was presented to the royal couple by its creators and the National Archives.

The tradition of such rolls - they are sadly missing for the era 1429-1559 inclusive - is outlined in articles from the BBC News website at King's official Coronation scroll is first without animal skin and from the Daily Record at King Charles' cheeky six-word quip as he marks year since Coronation 

The 2023 Coronation Roll can be seen in its entirety at The Coronation Roll

The interactive version with film and interviews can be seen at Videos

The other day the Daily Mail had an article about criticisms of the ceremonial and liturgy from “insiders”. It can be seen at Eight reasons why moaning minnies call it the 'Cut Price Coronation'

The article begins on a slightly hostile note but then appears supportive of the criticisms made. Now the Daily Mail can call me a “Moaning Minnie” if it likes but I would agree with virtually all the points the article makes, and I could add quite a few more. Some innovations were very effective I happily concede, such as the Royal Ladies in their Chivalric mantles, and the presence of the St Augustine Gospels as well as the newly recreated Cros Gneith. I also appreciate the perceived need to adapt for aspects of the ceremony for a Monarch and Consort in their mid-seventies. That said I still think the comments in the article are valid, and I am heartened that “insiders” are making their views known for future Coronations.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Islington

The next three Pilgrimage stations are on the low hills to the north of London. The first is just outside the medieval city, the shrine of Our Lady of the Oak at Islington. This appears to have been a wayside shrine in the churchyard by one of the principal routes in and out of medieval London. It remained an object of devotion until its destruction by burning alongside other such, more famous, statues at Chelsea in 1538.

My post about it from 2021, which also  includes links to two recent articles about contemporary ideas to restore or recreate it, can be seen at Our Lady of Islington 

May Our Lady of Islington pray for The King and all the Royal Family, and for us all.

Sunday 5 May 2024

Fr John Hunwicke RIP

Although it was not altogether unexpected the news last week of the death of Fr John Hunwicke still shocked and greatly saddened me.

I first became aware of him, before I went to Oxford, through the Ordo published by the Church Union which set out clearly and in great detail a wide series of options for saying the Daily Office for those of an Anglo-Catholic persuasion. Fr Hunwicke edited this each year and enquiries were to be sent to him at that citadel of Anglo-Catholic formation, Lancing College.

Some years later when I was a daily attender at Pusey House I met Fr Hunwicke who was there on a study visit. Now I could put a face and an identity to the name. Here was a man of great erudition and one who was also entertaining, with not a little of engaging English eccentricity. This acquaintance deepened and I saw why he was appreciated as a teacher and guide.

At that time he and his wife were living in retirement in north-west Devon and I distinctly recall thinking during the vacancy at St Thomas’ where I was Churchwarden that Fr Hunwicke was just the sort of parish priest the church needed, but alas, he was retired. A few months later, after my reception at the Oratory, I was delighted to be told that Fr Hunwicke was returning to active ministry as Vicar of St Thomas’. I went to his induction, when he graciously cited my history of the church and said in front of the Bishop of Oxford and the congregation that the floor having been paid for in part by John Henry Newman ( still then an Agnglican in the early 1840s) that if “we stand on a floor laid by John Henry Newman we shall not go far wrong.”

It was at St Thomas’ that he was persuaded to start his blog and its wide readership is testimony to his breadth of knowledge and skill in presenting ideas - in part no doubt the legacy of teaching Classics at Lancing. His anniversary of Ordination liturgy at St Thomas’ was one of those services you simply had to have been at, “a simple prayer book service in a little back street church“ using the ‘62 service book ( guess which ), a celebration of his faithful ministry but also of a vision, a very Oxford vision, of what the Ecclesia Anglicana might be.

With the advent of the Ordinariate wand his wife were received at the Oxford Oratory in a service I attended and I was present when he was finally ordained as a priest in full communion with the Holy See. For a man of such clear Anglo-Papalist sympathies and one who felt so keenly a sense of communion with late medieval and sixteenth century English Catholics that raised scruples with him, but ordained he was. As I said as I knelt for his First Blessing outside the Oratory that evening “ Not before time!”.

As Dr Shaw of the LMS has demonstrated in his obituary the succeeding years saw an active and lively ministry as tutor, scholar and blogger based in Oxford.

I am very grateful for having known him and shall miss not just our conversations when we met but also the fact of knowing someone who would know the answer, or a possible answer, to so many obscure, but always, fascinating questions. I can see him seeking out a new ministry in the afterlife as chaplain to his great hero the fourteenth century Bishop John de Grandison of Exeter.

May he rest in peace.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Grace by the Pillar in St Paul’s

The Pilgrimage now moves from Westminster along The Strand to St Paul’s Cathedral. Within were several statues and chapels in honour of Our Lady which Waterton, drawing upon Dugdale, documents. The one which appears to have been the principal object of pilgrims, and of their offerings was the statue in the nave by the second pillar west of the crossing on the south side. 

Waterton’s account can be seen on pp 68-70 of his work, and details the ceremonies associated with the statue and the management of its revenues. My previous articles about it can be seen, beginning in 2021 with Our Lady of Grace by the Pillar in St Paul’sfrom 2022 at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Grace by the Pillar in St Paulsand from last year at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Grace by the Pillar in St Paul’s

May Our Lady of Grace by the Pillar pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Saturday 4 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady at the North Door and Our Lady of Pew in Westminster Abbey

The Pilgrimage now moves to Westminster Abbey and Palace to three medieval shrines of Our Lady. The modern Pilgrim can also go along to Westminster Cathedral to see the renewed shrine there with a medieval English alabaster statue of the Virgin and Child as well as seeing a copy of that in the Abbey’s restored chapel of Our Lady of Pew. 

I set out the complexities of these various places of devotion in my 2021 article Our Lady of Westminster

In that I also cite the work of my friend the late Fr Mark Elvins OFM Cap. about the central place of the chapel of Our Lady of Pew in the story of King Richard II and his vow to make England the Dowry of Mary in 1381. 

My 2023 version can be seen at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Westminster

Edmund Waterton gives reference to both statues in the Abbey. He quotes an inventory which lists the gold cope for the statue at the North Door. He also discusses the origin of the term Pew to describe the chapel and statue in both the abbey and the chapel of both the abbey and the royal chapel in the palace. Waterton inclinded to the view that the term Pew was a term to describe a Pièta, and it is clear from his work that such statues were by non means infrequent in later medieval England. The other explanation is that the chapels both in the Abbey and the Palace were places designed for private devotion by the King and his companions.
Edmund Waterton gives many examples from records of financial offerings to Our Lady of Pew by Kings, Queens, and courtiers.

May Our Lady at the North Door and Our Lady of Pew at Westminster pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all.

Friday 3 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of the Red Ark in York Minster

The third station on the Pilgrimage is made at the second Metropolitical cathedral of the realm, York Minster. 

Looking at Waterton’s compilation it is not clear why the itinerary as created in 1960 chose the statue of Our Lady of the Red Ark in the Minster when in fact there were so many devotional images of Our Lady in the cathedral. Like Canterbury York Minster had a chapel on her honour in the Undercroft created to support the High Altar and Shrine of St William reusing fabric from the Norman cathedral. That was restored in the early twentieth century with a damaged twelfth century relief of the Virgin and Child discovered in 1829 during restoration work in the east wall of the principal Lady Chapel beneath the east window. To the right of the High Altar was an elaborate decorated statue of the Virgin. Both the  north and south choir aisles had their own statues of her, as well as one over the Treasury and the one by the Red Ark. 

My account of that particular statue, and links to two others, can be found at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of the Red Ark in York Minster

At Beverley Minster there was a similar arrangement with a statue of the Virgin by their donation Ark which was also painted red. That should no doubt be added to the itinerary.

May Our Lady of the Red Ark in York Minster pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

Thursday 2 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of the Undercroft in Canterbury Cathedral

The second shrine on the Pilgrimage is that of Our Lady of the Undercroft in Canterbury Cathedral.   

General view of the Chapel of Our Lady in the Undercroft

My post about it from last year can be seen at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of the Undercroft in Canterbury Cathedral

Edmund Waterton notes on the screeens the presence of coats of arms of members of the nobility from the time of King Henry VI. Presumably they visited the shrine on the way to or from Calais in the latter stages of the French war. He also cites offerings by Queen Elizabeth of York in 1502, and by her son King Henry VIII, who offered 6/8 in both 1514 on the Tournai campaign and 1520 on the Field of Cloth of Gold visit. 

In the 1520s Erasmus described the shrine as follows: 
From the shrine of St Thomas, we returned to the crypt. Here the Virgin Mother has an abode, but somewhat dark, inclosed within a double screen of iron, for fear of thieves, for indeed I never saw a thing more laden with riches. When lamps were brought we beheld more than a royal spectacle, which in beauty far surpassed that of Walsingham. This is only shown to men of high rank or great friends. 
Waterton p 9, quoting Erasmus Peregrinatio religionis ergo
The screen work of the chapel dated to circa 1370

chapel has a beautiful quality of tranquility and although much damaged retains much of its original decoration. Because it is not on the main tourist route in the cathedral it has, as a Catholic priest and I were discussing a few weeks ago, a profound spiritual impact and one feels close to those who created and adorned it.
The modern statue by Mother Concordia Scott OSB
Images: Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society 

May Our Lady of the Undercroft pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all.

Wednesday 1 May 2024

The Legend of St Philip the Apostle

Today is the traditional date for the Feast of SS Philip and James. This was moved in what became both OF and EF usage following a set of very twentieth century political manoeuvres in respect of the Calendar. Much to be deplored.

The New Liturgical Movement has an interesting article about the Gospel and Acts narratives in respect of St Philip, and of the later legends about him. It also considers how these were selected for devotion according to later centuries assessment of their veracity or indeed probability. Such calculations also extended, as the article shows, to his depiction in art.

The article can be seen at The Legend of St Philip the Apostle

I posted in 2011 about excavations at the reputed site of his ministry and martyrdom at Hieropolis in Tomb of St Philip the Apostle and in 2012 about what is believed to be a a substantial relic of his scull at Limassol in Cyprus in St Philip the Apostle

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Glastonbury

The Pilgrimage begins at Glastonbury, that unique cradle of so many English traditions.

The amended post introducing the Glastonbury devotion to Our Lady can be seen at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Glastonbury

The statue in the Lady Chapel was claimed - time, circumstance and the catastrophic fire of 1184 notwithstanding - to be the work of St Joseph of Arimathea himself. According to Pynson’s ballad of 1520,

There Joseph lyved with other hermyttes twelfe
That were the chyfe of all the companye,
But Joseph was the chefe hym-selfe;
There led they an holy life and gostely.
Tyll, at the last, Jhesu the mighty,
He sent to Joseph thaungell gabryell,
Which bad hym, as the writing doth specify,
Of our Lady’s Assumpcyon to bylde a chapell

 So Joseph dyd as the aungell hym bad,
And wrought there an ymage of our Lady; 
For to serue her gret devocion he had,
And that same ymage is yet at Glastenbury,
In the same churche; there ye may it se
For it was the fyrst, as I vnderstande
That ever was sene in this countre;
For Joseph it made with his own hande 

From Life of Joseph of Arimathea EETS xliv,43
Waterton, 280

Pynson was, of course, the man who preserved in another ballad the story of the foundation of the Walsingham shrine.

It was at about this time that the chapel of St Joseph was created beneath the twelfth century rebuilding of the “Old Church” or Lady Chapel, and that the penultimate Abbot, Richard Bere added a chapel of Our Lady of Loretto to the north transept. He had visited Loretto whilst in Italy and clearly sought to provide more for pilgrims to his abbey. It’s unusual position is indicative of the way the original house now at Loretto has only three walls in front of a cave. Nothing remains above ground of the Abbot’s chapel but its site is marked out in the turf.


Model of Glastonbury Abbey on the eve of the dissolution in 1539.
The Lady Chapel is to the right, and the Loretto Chapel in the centre foreground extending west of the north transept.
Image: citydesert.wordpress.com

May Our Lady of Glastonbury pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

May Marian Pilgrimage

In 2020 to celebrate the rededication of England as the Dowry of Our Lady I took up an idea of Fr Hunwicke from his blog. This was, in the circumstances of lockdown, to have an online virtual Pilgrimage to medieval Marian shrines in England, visiting one each day in May. 
Fr Hunwicke derived this from a booklet outline such a series of virtual shrine visits produced at Walsingham about 1960. This in turn drew on the great scholarly endeavours of Fr.T.E.Bridgett in Dowry of Our Lady (1875) and of Edmund Waterton in Pietas Mariana Britannica (1879). These remainly largely unchallenged as resources for the serious study of medieval English Marian piety. Both are available online, as well as physical reprints of Waterton, and probably also of Bridgett. I will post separately about Edmund Waterton, a man local to my home area and the however many times great nephew of ‘my’ Bishop Richard Fleming.

These books cover the whole range of Marian devotion and this Pilgrimage only scratches the surface. I have basically followed the original route of the Walsingham booklet, adding in a few serious omissions, but not changing its idiosyncratic route from Glastonbury to Walsingham with its curious spurts across country - it is not one to attempt by public transport or by private!

The route takes in well known places for pilgrims and more local sites, but not what may be termed recorded parish devotion to a well-loved and honoured statue in a particular parish or monastic church. These are often recorded as the recipients of bequests in late medieval wills. To include all of these would mean barely leaving one’s home county. 

My original notes have been supplemented with additional notes each year as this Pilgrimage has become an established annual feature of this blog. Last year I focussed in particular on the royal links of many of these shrines to mark the Coronation and suggested that an intention of the Pilgrimage should be The King and The Queen. This year, given the health issues facing His Majesty and the Princess of Wales, I suggest that praying for the King and all the Royal Family should be one intention as well as any private ones we wish to make.

I have thought of including Welsh, Scottish and Irish shrines, using Bridgett and Waterton as a beginning, but to do that will require a separate Pilgrimage, hopefully for Assumptiontide in August.

So, with virtual Palmer scrip and staff in hand let us set off for Glastonbury…