A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode
ENTRIES ARE GENERALLY ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY BY PLACE NAME
Donald Cecil Edmund Halliday was born on 7th January 1913 at Eton. His father, Cecil Alfred Halliday was an antiques dealer and his mother, Maud Louise, was an opera singer and once performed at the palace for Queen Victoria. Maud Louise was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and her sponsor was Mrs. Blanche Warre Cornish of Eton.
Donald’s sister, Patricia, was born in Abingdon in 1921. Leaving Abingdon, the Halliday family moved to Broad Street, Oxford, in 1925 when Patricia was four. They then moved again to the Old Manor House, North Hinksey Lane, in 1936.
Donald attended Oxford High School and he later served as a Radio Officer in the Merchant Navy. His ship was torpedoed during the month of October in 1942.
Donald Halliday felt that he had a religious vocation and he tried a number of different orders including the Capuchins and the Benedictines. He refers in his notes to spending time at the Capuchin Franciscan Friary in Grosvenor Street, Chester, and he spent some years at Belmont Abbey where he was, for a time, the Sacristan. After leaving Belmont Donald continued to be an oblate of that community.
For many years, Donald Halliday lived with his sister, Patricia, at Old Manor House, North Hinksey. After the sudden death of her father in 1946, Miss Halliday was left supporting her mother and brother – as her father had been the sole breadwinner of the family.
It was then she decided, aged 25, to set up the Old Manor House Riding School. Beginning with just three ponies, the now-thriving school quickly grew and was housing 50 horses by the 1970s. Her passion was eventing and then later in her life she also took up dressage. She received many notable awards during her life, including ones from the Royal International Horse Show in 1962 and the Royal Windsor Horse Show in the same year, where she was presented with a rosette by Queen Elizabeth II. In 1962 she also received an award from the 11th Duke of Marlborough. Miss Halliday continued riding until she was 80 years old and stayed teaching until she was 87.
Donald Halliday died on 10th March 2006 and was buried at Belmont Abbey. He was survived by his sister who died in 2015, aged ninety-three.
Donald was a devout Roman Catholic and was hugely informed about a large number of religious orders and he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of so many churches and religious buildings. Books from his extensive library are easily identifiable as they often have pasted into them photocopies of photographs or references as well as hand-written additional notes.
Donald was not an enthusiastic supporter of the liturgical and devotional changes which resulted from Vatican II and this is certainly revealed in some of his comments – “Thank God”, he said in 1981, “that I have lived most of my life in those happier times! My memory of them sustains what little is left of my once fervent R.C. religious life (all but destroyed by “the changes”).”
We corresponded regularly during the early 1990s and, once we had met, he inundated me with many of his papers. These I largely preserved and their content forms the basis of this blog.
The “Old Nunnery”, Abbots Salford, Warwickshire. Founded at Cambrai, France, in 1625, the Community of English Benedictine Dames of Our Lady of Good Comfort (now called “Our Lady of Consolation”) was imprisoned by the French Revolution in 1793. Upon being released, the Community managed to get to England and settled for a time at Woolton, near Liverpool – later it found a home at Abbots Salford, near Evesham, in a house still called by the villagers, “The Old Nunnery”. In 1838, however, the Community moved to Stanbrook, near Worcester, where it still remains. In this year, 1995, the community numbers 44.
From ‘The Tablet’, Saturday, October 17, 1857 :-
“The new church of Abingdon. On Wednesday, the 30th Sept., the new church at Abingdon was solemnly opened by the Bishop of Southwark (The Right Reverernd Thomas Grant). Though at the extreme end of His Lordship’s diocese, the mission of Abingdon is one in which he feels a deep interest, and from which, under the blessing of God, he hopes to see religion derive considerable advantages.
Placed in a large (?) town (once the seat of one of the largest and most flourishing Abbeys in England), distant only five miles from Oxford, with which city there is direct communication by rail, founded and supported by a recent convert to the Faith, whose public services to religion have deservedly secured him the gratitude of the Church, the mission of Abingdon is calculated to attract the notice and enlist the sympathy of all who have at heart the progress of religion in England.
It is, no doubt, to these circumstances that we are to attribute the lively interest shown in the mission by the Catholics of the county, who came in such large numbers to be present at the opening of the church. In the morning the church was blessed by Mgr. Virtue, of Aldershot (later Mgr. John Virtue became first Bishop of Portsmouth), who received the necessary powers from the Bishop for that purpose, after which Pontifical High Mass was sung by the Bishop of Southwark.
His Lordship was attended by the Very Rev. Dr. Tandy, of Banbury, as Assistant Priest, by Mgr. Virtue as Deacon, Rev. Mr. Clarke, of Buckland, as Sub-Deacon, the Rev. Messrs. Birks, Blackett, S.J., Richardson, and Applegath, in copes, as crosier, mitre, book and candle-bearers, and the Rev. Dr. O’Toole, Pastor of the mission, as Master of Ceremonies, assisted by Mr. Charles Alban Buckler, of Oxford.
Mozart’s Mass no. 12 was efficiently sung by the choir, under the direction of the Very Rev. Canon Crookall, the principal voices which were supplied by the Reading choir. After the First Gospel, the Right Rev. Dr. Morris preached an impressive and eloquent sermon, with which the Protestants who were present expressed themselves both surprised and delighted.
Luncheon was served after Mass, of which more than 150 persons partook. Tables were laid out in the beautiful cloister, at which eighty sat down together, the gentlemen giving precedence to the ladies. Most of the Catholic families of the county were present, including those of Sir. Robert Throckmorton, the Eystons, Blounts, Plowdens, Barretts, Darcys, etc..
Pontifical Vespers were sung at half-past three o’clock, the sermon being preached by the Very Rev. Canon Cookall, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Among the other Clergy present were the Very Rev. Canon Ringrose, Rev. M’Quoin, etc. The portion of the church at present finished comprises the chancel, Ladye chapel, and organ chamber, with two spacious sacristies, connected with the presbytery by a cloister sixty feet long.
The whole forms a group of buildings beautiful in the outline, and carried out perfectly in all, even the minutest details. The church, when completed, will comprise nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and bell-gable, in addition to what has been already finished.
The style is that of the decorated Gothic. The Church and Presbytery of St. Edmund’s are among the best of the many successful revivals of the glorious Gothic architecture raised within the last few years by the architect, Mr. W.W. Wardell, of Parliament Street and Hampstead.
Through the munificent zeal of the founder, Mr. Bowyer, M.P., for Dundalk, the church is amply provided with all the requisites for carrying out fully and impressively the services of Divine Worship.
The vestments and lace are rich and costly, and few churches possess a finer set of altar plate than that which the founder, out of overflowing love for the dignity of God’s worship, has lately added as an additional gift to the mission.
What must raise him still higher in the esteem of all Catholics is the generosity which prompted him to transfer, by deed of trust, the whole of the buildings, furniture, and four acres of land to the Bishop, for the benefit of the mission. Such generosity is beyond all praise, and can be duly recompensed but by Him for whose glory so noble a gift has been made.”
(n.b. It is of interest to note that, not only was Mr. George Bowyer (later Sir George Bowyer) a Knight Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem (or “Knight of the Order of Malta”), but Mr. Charles Alban Buckler of Oxford, who was assistant master of ceremonies at the opening of the first completed portion of the church in 1857, was also a member of this illustrious Order – not as a “Knight”, tho’ but as a “donate of the First Class.” So St. Edmund’s, Abingdon, was indeed closely connected with the Order of Malta – a connection still borne witness to by the noble East Window, and the Maltese Cross over the main entrance.)
‘The Tablet’, June 5th, 1858 :-
On Tuesday, June 1st, the cemetery attached to the beautiful new church of St. Mary and St. Edmund’s, at Abingdon, was solemnly consecrated by His Lordship the Bishop of Southwark (R.R. Thomas Grant).
After the ceremony High Mass was sung, coram Episcipo, the Very Rev. Mgr. Virtue being Celebrant, Dr. Bonus, Deacon, and the Rev. t. Richardson, Sub-Deacon, the pastor, Rev. Dr. O’Toole, acting as Master of Ceremonies. Amongst the clergy present on the interesting occasion we noticed the Very Rev. Canons Ringrose and Crookall, and the Rev. F. Jarrett, S.J.. In the course of the day the Bishop and Clergy visited the schools, which are frequented by seventy children – a satisfactory increase on the seven children with which St. Edmund’s School was opened about fourteen months ago, and a source of great consolation to the generous founder of the mission, G. Bowyer, Esq., M.P. to whose zeal the inhabitants of Abingdon owe the erection of so beautiful a group of buildings, and the opportunities they thus have of coming back to the Church of their fathers.”
‘The Tablet’, Oct. 28, 1865 :-
“St Edmund’s Church, Abingdon. The solemn opening of St. Edmund’s Church, Abingdon, took place on Wednesday lest, the Feast of St. John of Beverley. As most of our readers are aware this church is another monument of the devoted and self-sacrificing piety of Sir George Bowyer, Bart., who has large estates in the neighbourhood of the once Catholic town of Abingdon.
The foundation was commenced some years ago by the erection of the chancel and a side chapel only of the projected church and a spacious presbytery adjoining. That portion of the building for some time afforded sufficient accommodation to the ‘grain of mustard seed’ in Abingdon, which took root in the parlour of the presbytery, was transplanted into the chancel, and now flourishes a goodly tree in the beautiful church just opened. It has been zealously cared for and tended by the excellent pastor, the Very Reverend Dr. O’Toole, D.D..
The church stands admirably on the fork of two diverging roads to Oxford and Sunningwell (?), and just on the outskirts of the town. It is built of a grey stone from quarries on the property.
The plan is a departure from the somewhat hackneyed nave and aisles, having a nave with one aisle its whole length terminating with the Lady Chapel, and on the opposite side a shorter and a double aisle. The inner aisle, we trust, may become hereafter a place of pilgrimage for English Catholics for the project of translating the body of Bishop Challoner from its resting place in a neighbouring Protestant church (i.e. St. Blaise’s, Milton, near Steventon) to this place is entertained, and it is hoped may be carried out. In such case a Mortuary Chapel would be arranged and adorned by the willing hand of English piety in memory of one of our Confessors of the Faith in times very different from those in which we live.
Owing to the earlier erection of the chancel, and to structural considerations, a striking feature in the interior of the building is a lofty flight of steps beneath the chancel arch. which gives great and fitting dignity to the sanctuary. The interior of the edifice is very lofty and well lit. The columns of the nave are cylindrical in Portland stone. As yet, there is a purely temporary high altar, but a fine stained glass window occupies the eastern gable.
Exteriorly, the striking feature is a most effective and picturesque wooden spirelet which rises from the massively buttressed western gable. (This wooden spirelet was evidently replaced by the present not so picturesque stone bell-cot in August 1884.)
The deeply recessed side door bears over it the Cross of the Order of St. John, as a member of which Sir George Bowyer’s name will go down to posterity in the archives of the English “Language” (i.e. the English Section or Province of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
The style of the nave and aisles is a simple and effective geometrical Gothic, which gives great character in contrast to the more elaborate and enriched style of the chancel. The chancel and presbytery were erected from designs by W. Wardell, Esq., now of Melbourne (Australia). The plans for the body of the church were provided by Mr. Goldie, who is erecting some beautiful villas on a portion of the property adjoining. These residences from their proximity to the church, their situation overlooking the country, and their convenience and comfort afford singular advantages to Catholics wishing for retirement and quiet.”
(n.b. Can these delectable villa residences possibly be those which now form the nucleus of the extensive buildings of Our Lady’s Convent of the Sisters of Mercy ? I think they may well be )
‘The Tablet’, November 4, 1865 :-
Opening of the new church at Abingdon. On the occasion of the opening of the church of Our Blessed Lady and St. Edmund at Abingdon, the beautiful cope given to Sir George Bowyer by the Reverend Mother Superior and Community of the Convent of St. Leonard’s was greatly admired. It was worn at Mass by the Very Revd Canon Ringrose, as priest-assistant, and at Benediction by the Lord Bishop of Birmingham (Bishop, later Archbishop, William Bernard Ullathorne, monk of St. Gregory’s, Downside, pf the Holy Order of St. Benedict).
The hood especially deserves mention. It was worked by the good sisters at St. Leonard’s, and the rich materials are surpassed by the taste and skill of the workmanship, which are truly admirable and artistic. (The Rev. Mother Superior of St. Leonard’s Convent, Sussex, was none other than the saintly Mother Cornelia Connelly, Foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus – the S.H.C.J. nuns.)
‘The Tablet’, June 2nd, 1883 :-
“St Edmund’s, Abingdon. The Sunday within the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi was kept with great solemnity in this church. The Solemn Mass was followed by a procession, in which the children of the Convent of Mercy, dressed in white and wearing crowns of red roses, took part, two of their numbers carrying banners, others strewing flowers. One of the poles of the canopy was borne by Sir George Bowyer, Bart.; and the pastor of the mission bore the Blessed Sacrament in a magnificent antique remonstrance, said to be of Spanish workmanship. The high altar had been beautifully decorated for the festival by the Sisters of Mercy were, the gold-curtained reredos being relieved with green foliage and flowers, the altar, as also large stands on either side covered with flowers, were one blaze of light. In his sermon at the Mass, the pastor gave a history of the institution and progress of the Feast of Corpus Christi.
At the evening service Father Parkinson, S.J., of Oxford, preached the last of a very interesting course of sermons which he has been delivering, a the request of Father Collins, on the Sunday evenings of the month of May, on devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
‘The Tablet’, June 9th, 1883 :-
We deeply regret to have to announce the death of Sir George Bowyer, which took place on Thursday (i.e. June 7th, 1883) at his chambers in the Temple.
Sir George was born in 1811, was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1839, and was appointed Reader thereto in 1850. In 1860 he succeeded to the title on the death of his father. He sat as member for Dundalk in the Liberal interest from 1852 to 1868, and for Wexford, from 1873 to 1880. In 1849 he unsuccessfully contested Reading. The death of Sir George Bowyer leaves a place that will not easily be filled.
For years he has stood forward as a representative Catholic, and in days that are now happily gone, when the Press was practically closed to the defenders of the Church, the name of Sir George Bowyer was familiar to the readers of ‘The Times’, and his pen was never more vigorously used than when he was championing the faith.
We may state that he received Communion on Sunday week, and subsequently assisted in carrying the canopy in the procession of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Edmund’s, Abingdon. As an international jurist, Sir George had a great reputation, and his books have long been recognized as authorities by the profession. R.I.P.”
See also HOSPITAL OF ST JOHN AND ELIZABETH
June 22, 1932 The Feast of St. Alban, M.
In the 1926 edition of the ‘Catholic directory’ there appears, under Aldeburgh-on-Sea, Suffolk, for the first time, the following interesting item: “Convent of Sisters of Peace. Day and Boarding School.”
In the list of Orders & Congregations for the diocese of Northampton we find: “Sisters of Peace: Aldeburgh.”
Among the advertisements for Convent Schools we find the following: “Convent of Our Lady of Peace, Aldeburgh-on-Sea, Suffolk. High-Class Boarding School for Girls, conducted by the Oblates of St. Benedict under the distinguished patronage of His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and His Lordship the Bishop of Northampton. Pupils prepared for Public Examinations if desired. Climate dry, bracing and sunny. Special attention given to Music and Languages. Apply to the Reverend Mother.”
In the 1927 Directory these notices appear as follows :-
“Aldeburgh-on-Sea … Convent of Oblates of Our Lady of Peace, Day and Boarding School.”
“Sisters of Peace: Aldeburgh.”
The advertisement among the Convent Schools is worded in the identical terms of the above-quoted 1926 one.
In the 1928 Directory :-
Aldeburgh-on-Sea … Convent of Our Lady of Peace Day and Boarding School,”
“Sisters of Peace: Aldeburgh.”
No advertisement of Aldeburgh appears among the Convent Schools in this 1928 Directory.
It would appear, then, that this mysterious little community of Benedictine Oblate Sisters of Our Lady of Peace existed at Aldeburgh from 1925 till 1928. I wonder very much whence they cane, and wither they went … and , indeed, who they were at all!
From “Franciscan Annals”, June 1888:
“New Franciscan Church at Ascot. On Tuesday, May 8, the Bishop of Portsmouth laid the foundation stone of a new church, which will be dedicated to our Holy Founder, S. Francis of Assisi, at Ascot, Berkshire, only a few miles distant from Windsor.
The Church will be under the spiritual charge of our brethren the Franciscan Observantine Fathers, who have already built a monastery there, and who have also a fine church at Clevedon, in Somersetshire, as well as a mission at Saltash, in Cornwall.”
Chapel of Our Lady, Higher Farm, Bagborough, Somerset.
Blessed by the Bishop of Clifton (16th March, 1955) : Higher Farm, Bagborough, the home of Mrs. Critchley-Salmonson, O.B.E., has now the distinction of having its own oratory, and on Wednesday afternoon (March 16th) this Chapel of Our Lady, transformed from an ancient barn, was blessed by the Bishop of Clifton, the Right Rev. Joseph Rudderham, D.D.’ M.A. The barn was part of the original farm buildings, believed to date back to the 16th century. It is stone built, and to enable it to be turned into a chapel the upper flooring was removed, and only the massive black oak cross-beam that supported the floors remains.
Interiorly the walls have been renovated and coloured French beige. The chapel can seat about 30 worshippers. Above the altar at the east end stands a crucifix that was given to Mrs. Critchley-Salmonson by her husband, the late Major Critchley-Salmonson, for the chapel of their first home at Chagford, Devon. The stand for the crucifix is the gift of their daughter, Miss Denise Critchley-Salmonson, and the two handsome brass candlesticks were given by Miss D. Arnold. In a window recess on the right there is an 18th century example of Spanish religious art – a sitting figure of the Holy Mother and Child, brought home from Spain by Sir Arthur Hardinge, who was British Ambassador in Madrid during the first world war. On the wall nearby is an ancient Coptic icon of the Mother and Child which came from Abyssinia …
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… Bishop of the Diocese he thanked all who had been concerned in the conversion of that building into an oratory. They had made there a new centre of prayer faith was spread by the action of the grace of God, and the teaching of the Church was spread very largely by Catholic living the Faith.
“We have to let our light so shine before men (concluded the Bishop) that seeing the Faith they will be drawn to follow. To make our faith shine in our lives we must resort constantly to prayer. The role of this little oratory is to be a house of prayer, in which you can gather and plead that by your example, in God’s good time, there may be here established a Mass centre and a new parish.”
The Stations of the Cross were inaugurated by the Bishop making the Stations, with all present responding to the prayers, some within the chapel and many more outside. In the bright sunshine of an early spring afternoon, amid the old farmyard surroundings, it was a moving scene and act of devotion.
Hospitality to Guests : Tea was served in the dining room and hall of Higher Farm to about 100 guests, these included Bishop’s Lydeard and Tone Vale Catholics, and many personal friends of the hostess. Her much-appreciated hospitality enabled her to make acknowledgement of the help she has received in donations towards the cost of the chapel from the Bishop’s Lydeard Catholic Club, and from individual friends. Mrs. Hunt had charge of serving the tea. Mr. Peter Hunt, a valued servant of the family for over 30 years, helped in equipping the chapel by making the altar supports and the flower stands. The electric lighting was installed by Messrs. Conybeare & Co. of Taunton and Bishop’s Lydeard. Structural alterations were carried out by Mr. Williams of Combe Florey, and the new windows were put in by Mr. J. A. White, of Cothelstone. (complete report, as supplied to local Press by Charles Winter, Catholic Journalist, Taunton.)
From ‘St George’s Catholic Church, Taunton, 1860-1960’, by Charles Winter :-
‘Chapel on the Quantocks – ‘March 16th, 1955, was a memorable day for Catholics of the Bishops Lydeard district, and neighbouring Quantock Hill country, by reason of the visit of the Bishop to Higher Farm, Bagborough, the home of Mrs.Critchley-Salmonson, O.B.E., to bless the farmhouse oratory, a small chapel adapted from a 16th century barn. As his Lordship explained, he used the third simple form of blessing because it was not a chapel for the regular celebration of Mass (although occasionally a visiting priest might offer Mass there). Its initial object, he said, was to be a centre of prayer, where scattered Catholics of the district could gather and pray, that, by their example in God’s good time, a regular Mass centre might be established there. Many new parishes up and down the country had had their beginnings in that way. The first Day of Recollection held in this Bagborough chapel of Our Lady, about two months later, was conducted by the then Prior of Ealing, the Very Rev. Charles Pontifex, O.S.B.’
St. Joseph’s Convent, Baldock – Guest House for Catholic Ladies – run by the Sisters of Mary and Joseph (only convent of this sisterhood existing in Britain at present – 1965). My dear mother (R.I.P. 1972) spent a few weeks here in the 1960s recovering from an illness.
Father Benedict Grillet seemingly came to England (from France?) in 1889, and opened an “Oratory of the Sacred Heart” (probably a room in a cottage) at (of all places at that time) Beaminster in Dorset. He remained in this charming little town until 1892, when, it would appear, he went to Marnhull, in the same delightful County, and became one of the original members of the Abbe Ferons Community of Benedictine Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at St. Joseph’s Priory (purchased in the previous year – 1891 – from the Canons Regular of the Lateran, who had been at Marnhull since June, 1884).
His “Oratory of the Sacred Heart” was closed upon his departure from Beaminster – since when this little Dorset town has been deprived of the privilege of a Catholic Church or Chapel of any sort.
Quite recently, tho’, it has happily become a regular “station” of the newly-formed Plymouth Diocesan Travelling Mission (run for the Bishop of Plymouth by the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales from South Molton in North Devon), and thus has once again the joy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at stated intervals.
Fr. Grillet’s heroic labours and efforts of over 70 years ago would seem, therefore, at long last to be bearing fruit. Laus Deo!
From the ‘Tablet’ of December 3rd, 1881, we learn the most surprising fact that, in the words of the Bishop of Plymouth’s Pastoral Letter, “… The Fathers of the Assumption, from Paris, have also purchased a house at Beaminster, Dorsetshire, where they intend to establish themselves before long…”!
In actual fact, the Augustinians of the Assumption never, apparently, made use of this house at Beaminster (no doubt purchased as a possible place of refuge from France whose Government was at that time passing through one of its periodic moods of hostility towards the Religious Orders) -but could they by any chance have retained possession of it (in case it might be needed) until 1889, and then sold it to Fr. Bernard Grillet for his residence and “Oratory of the Sacred Heart”, I wonder?
Nov. 23, 1951.From ‘The Tablet’, May 24, 1902 :-
“Bicester: A Benedictine Priory. – A community of Benedictine nuns, having been forced to quit France under the new Law of Association, have settled in ‘South View House’ near the school at Bicester, which is now known as St. Edith’s Priory. The community hails from Igoville, in Normandy. At the invitation of Father Bowen of Banbury, Madame Lucas-Glatigny, the Prioress, with three other Sisters, came over to occupy their new home which had been bought for them by Father Bowen, who was most generously assisted by an anonymous benefactor who guaranteed immediate expenses.
The Prioress had to leave the temporalities of their house at Igoville in the hands of her solicitor, as the French courts of law had deferred with endlessly slow formalities, to give their decision about the real property of the nuns.
A few more of the late Igoville community are expected to come to Bicester eventually. The non-Catholics of the town are receiving them in their midst with many marks of respect and sympathy. In consequence of this settlement of the nuns in the town the Catholics are having regular Sunday Mass at the convent instead of having to trudge to Hethe. The chapel is served for the most part by the Servite Fathers from Begbroke, near Oxford.
The Bicester mission, for which Father Bowen has done so much, owes its beginnings to the Rev. Dr. Sweeney, who, when priest at Hethe, collected money for the school chapel, and had it erected and opened (1883). Mass was first said in it on Easter Sunday (March 25) in that year. When Dr. Sweeney left Hethe in 1888, the Bishop made Father Glossop, of Souldern, manager of Bicester schools, and the latter attended to it for twelve years: last year the Bishop relieved him of it, and entrusted it to Father Bowen (as Rural Dean of the Oxfordshire Deanery).”
Mother Prioress Stanislaus Lucas-Glatigny, Oliv. O.S.B., died while the community was still at Bicester – she is buried in the cemetery of Holy Trinity Church, Hethe. R.I.P.
This Olivetan Benedictine Community moved afterwards to Bromyard, Herefordshire, (or, rather, made a daughter-foundation at Bromyard); for some years it was at Ormskirk, Lancashire, and is now settled at Ravenswood Priory, Strood, Chatham. Its career, since coming to England, has been somewhat chequered!
Dome Benedicta Mary Back, Oliv. O.S.B., is the present Prioress of Ravenswood. She later went to Italy and died there. R.I.P.
I am an oblate brother of this community (Ravenswood).
St. Edith’s Priory, Bicester, is now, alas, only a name.
SEE BROMYARD for more
‘The Tablet’. Nov 1st, 1902 :-
“How the Faith came back to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate of the Breton Mission of Llanrwst, Denbighshire, said Mass for the first time on Sunday, Oct. 5th, 1902, in a room at Blaenau Ffestiniog, Merionethshire. The celebrant of this historic Mass was Fr. Merour, O.M.I., and the room-chapel was dedicated in honour of St. Cadoc.
On the previous Saturday night the following handbill (in Welsh) had been put into every house in the town:
“God and Wales. Next Sunday, October 5th, 1902. The Breton Mission of the Church of St. Cadoc, in Church Street, will be opened. Holy Mass at 10.30 a.m., Welsh sermon, Welsh hymns, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, at 6.30 in the evening. Remember: All Welshmaen are cordially invited. Your brother of Brittany, Peter Merour, O.M.I.”
The room – ‘St. Cadoc’s Church’ ! – was packed with a congregation of whom not more than about 8 persons were Catholics – some 4 Irishmen and as many Italians ….
Amazement at the unwanted ceremonies kept the unsympathetic audience quiet during the first part of the Mass; but the spectacle of the incensing of the altar provoked a shout of ‘Fried Potatoes’! When the celebrant was observed making his Communion, someone cried out ‘He hasn’t had his breakfast yet’, a remark which provoked general laughter and was followed by the singing of comic songs ….
Undismayed by this hostility, Fr. Merour celebrated Mass publicly on the following Sunday. The congregation was again large, buts its conduct much less disorderly …. Fr. Merour has taken his reception very good-humouredly, ascribing the demeanour of the Welshmen to their total ignorance of Catholic worship and its significance – not by any means to malice or serious hostility ….
In spite of Fr. Merour’s brave optimism the Cambro-Breton Mission in Blaenau Ffestiniog was destined to be of a short duration. It appears for the first, and only, time in the ‘Catholic Directory’ for 1903 thus: ‘Blaenau Ffestiniog. Breton Mission of St. Cadoc. 10, Church Street, Oblates of Mary Immaculate: Rev. Pedr. Merour, O.M.I., Sun, M. 10.30; devs, s, B 6.30. Wkds, M. 8.’
Before 1903 was finished Fr. Pedr Merour had bowed to the inevitable and retired from Blaenau – the opposition was too hostile, and the outlook too unpromising. He moved the mission to Pwllheli, where the chapel built in 1879 had been for ten years without a resident priest.
The 1904 ‘Directory’ has: ‘Pwllheli. St. Joseph’s Breton Mission (1903) …. Revv. Pedr Merour, Julian Tanter, O.M.I. …’ Not until 1945 was a mission with a resident priest opened at Blaenau once more – tho’ Mass had been said on Sundays there for some years. The Church is now at ‘Bethanie’, Baron Rd., and is called ‘St. Mary Magdalen’. The priests are Irish O.M.I. Fathers – they are Welsh-speaking.
BLUE BELL HILL, NOTTINGHAM see HIGH WYCOMBE
An advertisement appearing in the 1893 ‘Catholic Directory’ :-
St Mary’s Priory College, Bodmin, Cornwall. Conducted by the Canons Regular of the Lateran. For prospectus, etc, apply to the Very Rev. the Prior. (the Prior at the time being Dom – later Abbot Augustine White, C.R.L.).
Among the many ways of arranging the title of the Canons Regular of the Lateran, the latest which has come to my notice seems almost the best :- “Canons Regular of St. Augustine of the Lateran Basilica”.
From an article by Dom Gilbert Dolan, in the ‘Downside Review’, July, 1903 :-
“… From one part of the county (i.e. Somerset) we pass to another; from north-west to south-west; from Leighland to Bonham.
Bonham indeed may almost be said to be in three counties, Somerset, Dorset and Wilts, which meet in a field close by the chapel. There is little need to describe its quaint old world aspect for the benefit of our readers, many of whom must at one time or another have found their way to the chapel, presbytery, and farmhouse, which stand in breezy solitude about a mile from the beautiful woods and lakes of Stourton.
Alfred’s Tower in Stourton Woods is a landmark in south-western England, and fixes approximately enough the position of one of the oldest Catholic centres in the western counties. For it was at Stourton that the mission found its first home, before the great Catholic family which thence took its name established the mission in the old manor house at Bonham, on leaving Wiltshire for its new seat in the north of England. The chapel and house at Bonham are full of interest and deserve a monograph to themselves; the house possesses one room at least with a plaster ceiling of no mean excellence, whilst the chapel is of exceptional interest. Though sadly disfigured in a tasteless age (I wonder!), and recklessly de-orientated, it is unmistakeably the old chapel of the manor house, and worthy of reverend and careful restoration. Though probably it has not been used continuously for Catholic worship since the middle ages, it deserves a place in the slowly growing list of buildings once and again their own, wherein the faithful have gathered in modern days as before the overthrow of the old religion of England for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If it cannot rank with the Chapel of St. Amand at East Hendred, in Berkshire, of the Holy Trinity at Stonor, and with the domestic oratory at Slindon in Sussex, it must be added to the number of those chapels now so happily restored to their old use….”
Alas, sometime between 1948 and 1955 Bonham appears to have ceased to exist as a Catholic Mission! The historic Chapel, so I understand, has been put to domestic uses … and this by a gentleman calling himself a Catholic!!!
Nov. 23, 1951. John Aubrey, in a letter to Anthony Wood at Oxford, dated 17 June, 1673, sends his respects to ‘the Bishop of Botley’ – which Anthony Powell, in his book, ‘John Aubrey and his Friends’, thinks was most probably a nickname of Anthony Hodges, Rector of Wytham – whom he describes as having been ‘a great wag.’
The Church of the Holy Ghost, Bovey Tracey, Devon, was re-built in 1936, through the generosity and munificence of Mr. and Mrs. Dahl. Mrs. Maude Dahl (who died in February, 1968, at the age of 88) was the much-beloved godmother of Brother Michael James Oakley, of Belmont Abbey, Hereford.
In the 1919 “Catholic Directory” – and only in that – appears the following most interesting entry:- St. Mary’s Convent, Oblates of St. Benedict, Tower Hill, Bromyard, Nr. Worcester.
From about 1909 till about 1912 there was at Bromyard a convent, dedicated (like the church) to St. Joseph, inhabited by a community of “Sisters of Providence”. I feel inclined to believe that these might have been Sisters of Providence of the Institute of Charity (“Rosminian Sisters”). At about the same time – and for a few years longer, I think, there was also a convent of “Sisters of Providence” at Ledbury. These, also, I feel inclined to believe, were, as at Bromyard, “of the Institute of Charity”… but, in neither case, am, as yet, quite sure.
The Sisters of Providence who were at High Street, Ledbury, from 1910 – 1916 seem definitely to have been of the “Institute of Charity” … so probably those at Bromyard were too.
In the 1919 ‘Catholic Directory’ there appears for the first time the following: ‘St. Mary’s Convent, Oblates of St. Benedict, Tower Hill, Bromyard, nr. Worcester!!! In the 1920 ‘Directory’ no mention is made of this convent or community!
It would appear that, seemingly, in 1911, the Sisters of Providence of the Institute of Charity (Rosminian Sisters) had small convents both at Ledbury and at Bromyard.
See BICESTER for more.
In 1892, during the building of St. Bernadine’s College, a house – No. 22, West Street – was taken in Buckingham by the Friars Minor and used by them as residence and chapel until the first portion of the College buildings was ready for them.
In the ‘Catholic Directory’ for 1911 appears the following advertisement :-
“Franciscan Sisters of Calais, Postulant’s House in Buckingham. The Congregation is devoted to works of mercy in different countries and to Foreign Missions in Asia and Africa. Apply, Sister Mary, 5. Chandos Road, Buckingham.”
This had entirely disappeared by the time that the 1914 ‘Directory’ was compiled!
CALVERLEIGH COURT, TIVERTON
CHELSEA, SAINT WILFRID’S CONVENT
(July 11th 1961) The foundation-stone of St. Wilfrid’s Convent, Cale Street (then called Bond Street), Chelsea (in the parish of the Oratory, Brompton Road), was laid by the Very Reverend Frederick Wilfrid Faber, D.D., Provost of the London Oratory, on St. Raphael’s Day, October 24th, 1858 – and was completed by the end of February 1860. It is thus one of the most historic convents in London. It was intended to be the Mother-House of the Sisters of Compassion (originally founded in France under the title of “Daughters of Calvary”), but, unfortunately, there was some serious misunderstanding with regard to the actual ownership of the building with the result that the Sisters of Compassion quickly withdrew to West Grinstead, Sussex. St. Wilfrid’s was taken over by the Daughters of the Cross, of Liege, in about 1873, and these Religious have been there ever since. The actual move by the Sisters of Compassion (who, on June 18th, 1864, had become Servite Mantellate Sisters – i.e. Sisters of the Third Order Regular O.S.M.) from St. Wilfrid’s, Cale Street, to West Grinstead, Sussex, was made in 1868, but in July, 1871, Suffolk Lodge, Stamford Hill, North London, became the Community’s house and Mother-House – and, as such, continues happily until this day, the fruitful mother of the now wide-spread Anglo-French Branch of the Servite Mantellate.
The names of Mother Mary Philomena Juliana Morel and Mother Mary Antonia Longhnan are inseparably linked together in the story of the early days of this flourishing Servite family – which now has provinces in England, France, Belgium, and the U.S.A., as well as working in the British West Indies.
St. Wilfrid’s Convent, Cale Street, may also be regarded as the earliest cradle of another very flourishing congregation (that of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions), for it was from this convent that, in 1861, one of the Sisters of Compassion (Euphrasie Barbier – Mother Mary of the Heart of Jesus) answered the call of the Marist Fathers at Lyons for Religious willing to go to their Foreign missions in Oceania and founded at Lyons the Institute of Our Lady of the Missions.
CHELSEA, BROTHERHOOD OF DIVINE EXPIATION
1897 Catholic Directory: Beaufort Street, Chelsea, London. S.W. House of the Brotherhood of the Divine Expiation. Rev. Kenelm Vaughan, Rector.
A charming glimpse of the leisured and over-decorated Victorian era – taken from ‘The Tablet’, March 31, 1883 :-
“Easter Church decorations. – The Catholic church, dedicated to St. Mary at Chepstow, tho’ not large, is decidedly pretty, and at any time bears an ornamental appearance, thanks to the Rev. Father Quaid, who has for 19 years officiated with untiring zeal. The interior arrangements are simple, consisting of a nave and apse; but these have been treated in an artistic manner.
The walls of the nave are divided by light blue mouldings into panels, fawn-coloured below and white above, the outer sections of the mouldings being dotted with dark rosettes. At convenient height are ranged round the lower panels the bright and affecting pictures of the Stations of the Cross.
At the west end of the church is a gallery on the supporting pillars of which are hung paintings of Our Lord bearing the Cross and of the ‘Mater Dolorosa’ clasping the foot of the Cross. Beneath the gallery on the north side, is the confessional, the window of which is closed with a crimson curtain.
On the south side of the nave, near the chancel, is a large painting of the Madonna and Child, and below this is the inscription, ‘Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.’
The sanctuary within the apse, is very richly coloured; the lower panels are of deep maroon sprinkled with the sacred monogram ‘I.H.S.’ in gold with dark shading. Above the dome is painted to represent the heaven spangled with golden stars. The east window is filled with a very beautiful stained glass representation of the Nativity; this is surrounded by a border of gold-covered roses, and on the heading are similar roses, conventionally treated, and the text: ‘Adorent eum omnes Angeli Dei.’ The high altar of pure white stone has a gold Maltese cross, in front, and the panels and cusps are picked out with gold. The reredos is also white, with gold arabesques, and against these the glittering candlesticks and gleaming tall wax candles and vases filled with bright-coloured flowers showed in strong relief. The tabernacle was hung with glistening curtains of white satin, elaborately embroidered with gold borderings, with figures of couchant lambs with crosses in the centre of each curtain. The recess above the tabernacle was lined with deep maroon, in which was a small white figure of the Crucified Redeemer among an elegant tracery of white sprays, leaves,, and blossoms; around this was a hanging of cloth-of-gold wreathed with white roses, and a wreath of bright flowers and green leaves divided this from the tabernacle. All this, with the claret-coloured carpet, dotted with black fleurs-de-lis, produced a fine effect.
North of the entrance to the sanctuary is the altar of Our Lady, and this was newly and elegantly decorated for the Easter Holyday by Mrs. Thomas with rich lace hangings, gilt cornices, and beautiful flowers.
South of the sanctuary the aumbry was treated in a similar manner, and above this hung a large engraving of St. Joseph and the Infant Saviour, and that in its turn was surmounted by a painting of the Redeemer.” !!!!! (Times and tastes change – and we with them!)
The Capuchin Franciscan Friary, Grosvenor Street, Chester, was opened on Sunday July 16, 1876.
The “Tablet” says of it – “The building is a plain bricked Franciscan (?) structure, and has been erected at a cost of £2,500 …. The whole accommodation for monastic (sic!) life and its necessary convenience has been in every particular attended to (?) and reflects great credit on the architect” (!) (I who have lived in this Friary, know well its very considerable inconveniences … the staircase alone is enough to put anybody off !!!)
From “Franciscan Annals”, November, 1890 :-
“Thew new Franciscan Recollect Church and Monastery, Chilworth, Surrey. On Monday afternoon, October 6, the foundation-stone of the new church and monastery of the Franciscans (Recollects) of the English Province, was laid at Chilworth, near Guildford, Surrey, by the Right Rev. Dr. Butt, Bishop of Southwark, in the presence of a number of priests and a large and representative gathering of Catholic and non-Catholic residents of the neighbourhood.”
The Salford diocesan Congregation of Missioners of Saint Gregory the Great (“Gregorian Fathers”) was founded on March 12th, 1892, at St. Peter’s Priory, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, by His Eminence Herbert Cardinal Vaughan and his brother, Dom Jerome Vaughan, formerly Prior of Fort Augustus Abbey, Scotland. His aim and object was to work directly for the Conversion of England to the Catholic Faith. Two lay-brothers, four scholastics, and three priests formed the original community. It unhappily ceased with the death of Dom Jerome Vaughan.
Reverse of the Photograph above: ‘Overleaf as prepared for the “Forty Hours Devotion” as between 1900 and 1914, a scene expressive of love and devotion. The Franciscan Church of the Immaculate Conception, Clevedon – prepared for the Forty Hours Prayer. The Friars’ Choir is behind the High Altar. The Church adjoined what was a perfect quadrangle Friary demolished in late eighties and nineties as vocations were no longer forthcoming – becoming so I hear, a block of flats!! To remain speechless is best. The Friary owned some rare and beautiful sacristy treasures – particularly so in the festive High Mass set known as the “Rosary” Vestments i.e. Cope, Chasuble, Dalmatic, Tunicle, Humeral Veil. Whither now, most certainly destroyed by 1996. Note the primitive gas brackets and French – very easy – delightful chairs. On the reverse side of the High Altar is a Community Altar – all in keeping with the Franciscan Conventual arrangements. The atmosphere told as much as the building – creating a House of Prayer and Domum Domini.’
Opening of the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Coedangra. ‘Tablet’, 9, 26th September 1846
This beautiful church stands on an eminence above the town of Skenfrith, in Monmouthshire. It was solemnly dedicated on Tuesday last, by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Brown, Bishop of Apollonica, and Vicar-Apostolic of Wales, assisted by a number of his clergy. So great was the crowd of Faithful, that scarcely half of those present could obtain admission into the church.
Lord Southwell, Mr. and Mrs. Plowden, Mr. and Mrs. Mornington, Mrs. Witham, Miss Salvin, W. Jones, Esq., of Clytha, Miss Jones, Messrs. P. E. and W. Jones, of Llanarth, &c., were among the visitors.
At eleven o’clock the bell rang out, and the procession moved from the sacristy, chanting the “Quam dilecta Tabernacula tua,” &c., and passing through the assembled multitudes formed round the -altar, and the service began.
High Mass was sung by the Rev. T. Shuttock, of Prior Park, assisted by the Rev. J. Dawson, of Courtfield, and the Rev. W. Woollett, of Pontypool, as Deacon and Sub-Deacon, the Rev. J. Bonomi acting as Master of the Ceremonies. After the Gospel his Lordship the Bishop, in cope and mitre, advanced to the centre of the altar and preached a most impressive sermon, a report of which we are compelled to postpone. His Lordship took his text from the 2nd Corinthians, chapter vi., 16 : ” You are the temple of the living God ; as God saith, I will dwell in him, and walk among them, I will be their God and they shall be my people.”
After Mass a cold collation was served in the school-room to upwards of thirty persons. At three o’clock Solemn Vespers were sung by the choir and the clergy at the altar, with beautiful effect ; at their conclusion, the Rev. Dr. Rooker ascended the steps of the altar, and preached from St. Luke chap. x., 23 and 24.
(This very effective discourse we must also defer.) Solemn Benediction by the Bishop followed, and the services of the day were concluded. The importance of the occasion justifies and demands a much fuller report of the proceedings, and with such a report we have been kindly favoured. It reached us, however, as this edition of the paper was going to press, and we cannot find room for the whole in a second edition. The full account of the proceedings, with copious notes of the impressive sermons, will be given next week.
‘Tablet’ 1st February 1930: Wanted – A Motor-Cycle
Sir,—I appealed last year for help to build a little chapel in the hills above Skenfrith and have now obtained the sum I need. I need, however, a workable motor bicycle in order to get about the very large area for which I am responsible. The Catholics are scattered amongst the hills and valleys, ten and fifteen miles away, round Pontrilas, Grosmont, Skenfrith, Broad Oak, St. Weonards and Hoarwithy, and they depend on me entirely for the Sacraments and for the weekly instruction of the children. There is no Catholic school of any description and unless I can get to them their condition is pitiable.
The new church is being built within sight of Blessed John Kemble’s old home, and anyone who has a special devotion to our English and Welsh Martyrs will, in helping me, be helping the cause for which they died.
Yours faithfully, John Owen, O.S.B. Belmont Abbey, Hereford.
‘Tablet’, Page 7, 11th August 1934:
An item of Welsh news in The Tablet for August 10, 1844, relates the stone-laying ceremony for a Catholic church at “Coed Angra, Skenfrith,” near Monmouth. This would appear to be Coedangryd, where the church is found listed up till 1910.
The “Seraphic College” of the English Friars Minor Capuchin, began at Cowley, Oxford, in 1905-1906, moved to Panton, Wragby, Lincs. In 1920, transferred to Over Wyresdale, Lancaster, Oct. 6th, 1936, is now, since 1933-1934, at Upper Norwood, London.
Cowley and Panton are both quite given up by the Capuchins.
The Capuchin Seraphic College at Cowley, Oxford (since 1921 occupied by the Salesian Fathers of Dom Bosco), was officially opened on Nov. 29th, 1906, and, officially closed as a Capuchin concern, on July 22nd, 1920.
The Seraphic College was opened in its new quarters at Panton Hall, Lincolnshire, on October 12th, 1920.
The great Father Cuthbert of Brighton, O.F.M. Cap., died at Assisi on March 22nd, 1939, and is buried there (tho’ his heart were surely in Oxford!) R.I.P.
“Now in charge of the Salesian Fathers. This is now (1962) simply the chapel of the Salesian College, Cowley – and a new parish church (Our Lady Help of Christians) having been built and opened in Hollow Way almost opposite the (in)famous Morris Motor works (which, more than anything else, have brought about the ruin of poor Oxford, alas, alas!”
In the ‘Catholic Directory’ for 1911 there was at Cromer a Convent of ‘Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of the Sacred Heart’. I can’t imagine who these could have been! This had entirely disappeared by the time that the 1914 ‘Directory’ was compiled!
‘The Tablet’, Nov. 2nd, 1872 :-
“The Premonstratensian Order. This Order has at last, after 300 years absence, regained a footing in England. A Father of the Order has taken charge of the Mission of S. Norbert, at Crowle in Lincolnshire, and hope later on to be joined by other of his brethren so as to carry out the monastic life completely. The church and presbytery, built by a Lincolnshire gentleman, were formally opened on the Feast of S. Teresa by the Lord Abbot of S. Bernard’s Abbey, Leicester. We are glad that this country which before the change of religion possessed several Premonstratensian Abbeys, again rejoices in the possession of the white habit of S. Norbert.
Tablet, 16th October 1869 : Newport and Menevia
Opening of a New Church at Dan-y-Craig — Amidst some of the most beautiful scenery of Monmouthshire, about four miles from the pretty village of Grosmont, there stands a large, solitary house, the property and residence of Godfrey Radcliffe, Esq. Farm-houses and cottages lie grouped at various distances around it; but churches, chapels, and meetinghouses, so thickly scattered in other parts of the county, are not to be seen in this neighbourhood, and the inhabitants seem hitherto to have lived and died without any form of religion whatever. When Mr. Radcliffe first brought his family to Dan-y-Craig, a few years ago, he was much struck with the spiritual desolation by which he was surrounded. He himself could drive over on Sundays to the nearest Catholic Church, that at Coedangryd, about six miles distant, but his poorer neighbours had no means of satisfying their spiritual needs, and perhaps, from long indifference, scarcely knew they had any. However, some of them tom him that if he would build a church they would all come to worship in it. Such an opportunity of gathering these straying souls into the sheepfold of the Church was not to be lust, and Mr. Radcliffe determined to do all in his power to satisfy the desires thus awakened, and to find means to “feed these men with bread here in the wilderness.” First of all he fitted up a chapel in his own house, and arranged with the Very Rev. F. Elzear, Superior of the Franciscan Monastery at Pontypool, that one of the Fathers from that place should go over to Dan-y-Craig every week to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays, and give religious instruction to the people who attended. He then set to work to build a church, in which, after so many years of desolation, men might worship God according to the ancient faith. This church, after many sacrifices and much exertion on Mr. Radclifle’s part, and with the assistance of several kind friends, was completed a few weeks ago, and was solemnly opened for Divine worship on the 6th October, within the Octave of S. Francis. It is a plain, substantial Gothic building of stone, and consists of a nave and chancel. The high altar, with the tabernacle and throne for the Blessed Sacrament, is of stone, beautifully carved (the work of Mr. Radcliffe’s own hand), and stands out fair and white, instinctively reminding the worshipper of the first pure altar on which Jesus was adored—the spotless heart of Our Blessed Lady, to whose Immaculate Conception the church is dedicated. A small altar with a statue of Our Lady, and another with one of S. Joseph, stand on each side of the chancel. The ceremonies of the day began at eleven o’clock with the blessing, first of the interior of the church and then of the foundations, by the Rev. F. Joachim, 0.S.F.C., assisted by the Rev. Fathers Elzear, Lewis, Fortunatus, and Gerard, and the Brothers Francis and Archangel : after which the doors were thrown open, and the congregation entered the building. High Mass was sung by the Rev. F. Joachim. The sermon was preached by the Very Rev. F. Elzear. After Mass, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given, and the services of the day concluded. Some members of several of the principal Catholic families of the county were present on this occasion.
Dorsetshire seems to have had more than its share of failures where religious houses are concerned … witness Spetisbury, Marnhull, Wareham, and the “Oblates of the Sacred Heart” – and then, of course, there was England’s first post-reformation Abbey … the Trappist one of the Most Holy Trinity and St. Susan on the Weld estate at East Lulworth – all very, very sad.
Only Stapehill (Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Cross, Cistercian-Trappist Nuns), of all Dorsetshire’s interesting religious houses, seems to survive. Founded in 1802, it constitutes a most precious living link with the now remote past. May it long continue! Alas! Stapehill has come to an end. The Community is now in South West Wales.
DUBLIN SISTERS OF CHARITY
An interesting extract from Archbishop Ullathorne’s Autobiography, ‘From Cabin-boy to Archbishop’ :-
“… With Mrs. Aikenhead, the foundress of the Dublin Sisters of Charity, I had several long interviews. Being a great sufferer, she sat in bed, with a little low table over the bed on which she wrote and had her working materials. She was of full Habit, and much flushed in the face when speaking, which she did with great earnestness and rapidity. She was a shrewd, clever woman, and, though bedridden, knew everything that passed in the religious world of Dublin.”
The O.F.M. Cap. Monastery of St. Antony at Dulwich, London, was opened on Sept. 8th, 1880, as a House of Studies. The 1st community consisted of 2 priests, 7 professed students (of whom one was, I believe, our old Fr. Seraphim), and 3 lay-brothers. The place was sold to the E.B.C. in 1892.
The Capuchin Franciscan mission of St. Anthony, Dulwich, London, was taken over by the Venerable English Congregation O.S.B. on May 29th, 1892. They have, however, long since handed it over to the diocese. I believe Fr. Wilfrid de Normanville (R.I.P.) of Belmont, was stationed there for a time in the very early days of his priesthood.
St Anthony’s Dulwich, London, was founded by the Capuchin Franciscans of Peckham in 1879 – the newly-consecrated (at Peckham) Bishop of Armidale, Australia, Dr. Elzear Torregiani, O.F.M.Cap., pontificated at the opening of the first little chapel. Although the Capuchins maintained a Friary here for some years, it was sold by them to the English Benedictines in 1892. It is now a diocesan parish.
St. Anthony’s, Lordship Lane, Dulwich, London (1880-1929) Capuchin Franciscans and served by them until 1892, when English Benedictine monks of Downside Abbey took over, and served it until 1923, when it was handed over to the diocese of Southwark. A new church was built in 1929.
It would seem that the noble lady who founded the convent at Dumfries, Scotland, ‘which is inhabited by a community of “Benedictines of the Blessed Sacrament”, actually originally intended it for a community of the “Order of Perpetual Adoration of Jesus in the Divine Sacrament of the Altar” which Order, with Mother-House in Rome (or, at any rate, at Rome in 1879), had been founded circa 1807 by a nun of a Franciscan Convent in the Island of Ischia – by name Catherine Sordini (in religion “Mother Magdalen of Compassion”).
The Community for Dumfries was to come from the convent of this Order at Innsbruck. All the above was learned from the “Tablet” for March 8th, 1879 … but when the Dumfries Convent was actually opened in 1884 it was not the “Order of Perpetual Adoration of Jesus in the Divine Sacrament of the Altar” which occupied it, but a community of “Benedictine Nuns of the Blessed Sacrament” – spiritual daughters of the Venerable Mother Mechtilde de Bar – and these nuns happily continue there. But what happened, one greatly wonders, between 1879 and 1884?
MOTHER GENEVIEVE DUPUIS
Mother Genevieve Dupuis, who founded the Congregation of Sisters of Charity of St. Paul the Apostle at Banbury, Oxon, in 1847, and died on September 26th, 1903 at Selly Park, Birmingham, her great friend and helper Archbishop William Bernard Ullathorne, O.S.B., wrote:
“She opened the religious life, which had formerly been the luxury of the wealthy, to those who had no money, but possessed the spirit of god and capacity for work. She opened the way to every aspirant after truth and higher things …”
Letter to the “Universe”!
Sir, – I notice that in the account of the Abbatial Blessing of Abbot Hall, of Ealing, appearing in the Universe, it is stated that he is the first Abbot to be blessed in London since the Reformation.
This distinction rightly belongs, I think, to Dom Antoine Saulnier de Beaureaund, who was blessed as Abbot of the Trappist monastery of the Most Holy Trinity and St Susan, Lulworth, Dorset, by Bishop Poynter, in London, so long ago as August 1813.
Mission started circa 1868 by an Italian Capuchin, Fr. Maurice, who rented a small room in which he celebrated Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. When the man from whom the room was rented discovered to what use it was put, he refused to allow Fr. Maurice to have it any longer. In 1870 Fr. Maurice secured a plot of ground in West Street (then a straggling thoroughfare) and built thereon a little church and school dedicated in honour of the Capuchin Martyr St. Fidelis (the only church in England bearing this title, I think). For himself and his lay-brother companion he secured a small corrugated iron hut. Later, a generous benefactor built them a little cottage in keeping with the Church, and therein a small community of friars continued to live and comply with their Order’s customary observances as well as their cramped circumstances would allow until the opening of a properly built and designed monastery in Carlton Road in 1903.
This is described as a ‘plain, substantial structure in the Gothic style, faced with red brick, relieved with Monks Park Bath Stone dressings’ – and its architect was the famous and justly esteemed Canon Scoles. It has never been completed – nor is it ever likely to be now – and the proposed adjoining church was never built. A temporary asbestos church (of ‘Our Lady of the Angels’) did duty for many years … but in 1947 one wing of the monastery was, as it were, ‘hollowed out’ inside and made into a fairly convenient church.
N.B. Fr Edgar of Tottenham, O.F.M. Cap., told me at Oxford in Sept., 1953, I remember, that, when a certain Guardian of Erith was asked what was the architectural style, of his Friary, he replied ‘Early English Workhouse’! A libel indeed on good Canon Scoles!
From “Franciscan Annals”, Feb. 1921 – “News is just to hand concerning the death of Canon Alexander Scoles of Basingstoke. Canon Scoles was the architect of our monastery at Erith and of our House at Penmaenmawr. We commend his soul to the charitable prayers of our readers. R.I.P.”
In 1878 Abbot Burder, O.C.R. (formerly of Mt. St. Bernard) was at Fordingbridge, Hants. There is some mystery attached to him … he seems to have been forced to resign the Abbacy of Mt. St. Bernard for some reason or other.
In June, 1879, Abbot Bernard Burder, O.C.R., was at L’Abbaye de Notre Dame du Desert, per Bellegarde, Haute-Garonne, France, and, in the “Tablet”, refers to his “return, after an absence by obedience of three years, to the Trappist, that is, to the Reformed Cistercian, Abbey of St. Mary of the Desert…”
I wonder whether he died in this monastery – which was later to be made fragrant with the odour of the saintly life led within it of Father Mary-Joseph Casssant, O.C.R., “servant of God”?
This is the former High Altar from the closed and dismantled Church of the Immaculate Conception at Foxcote, Illmington, near Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire. The church at Foxcote was closed circa 1935, when the mission was transferred to nearby Ilmington.
I had the joy of visiting Foxcote in 1926 or 1927 (when I was 13 or 14) cycling there from Oxford and back. It is a pity it was closed, but good that its historic altar has survived as the Altar of St. Gregory the Great in the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, London, W 1.
The Convent of Sisters of Mercy at Greenhithe, Kent, was formerly a Capuchin Friary – founded from nearby Erith. The Arms of the Order may still be seen on the front of the High Altar in the adjoining Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Seemingly these Sisters of Mercy are now no longer at Greenhithe so who dwells in the old Capuchin Friary now, I wonder?
The first Catholic mission in High Wycombe since the “reformation” was opened on Nov. 10th, 1889, in a room by Fr. H. Ignatius Beale (at that time, I believe, stationed at St. Peter’s, Great Marlow).
Soon after this, Fr. H. Ignatius Beale must have transferred from the diocese of Northampton to that of Nottingham – for in 1896 he founded, at St. Edward’s, Nottingham, the “Missionary Brotherhood of Franciscan Tertiaries” (with the approval of Bishop Bagshawe, of course), and embarked upon a vigorous (and lucrative?) propaganda in favour of the devotion of “St. Anthony’s Brief”. Something went very wrong somewhere, however – for the “Missionary Brotherhood” failed to take root (England still waits for the much-desired foundation of a Regular Franciscan Third Order Community of Brothers … it has heaps of Communities of Franciscan Tertiary Sisters, but not one of Brothers), and on June 13th, 1910, (St. Anthony of Padua’s Feast-Day!), he (i.e. Fr. Beale) was consecrated Bishop by the ‘Old Roman Catholic Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew, and suffered the penalty of excommunication!
But, of course, when he started the Catholic Mission of High Wycombe back in 1889, all these future colourful events were completely hidden (like so much in all our lives) in the womb of time.
1897 Catholic Directory: Blue Bell Hill, Nottingham, St Edward. Missionary Brotherhood of Franciscan Tertiaries. Rev. Ignatius Beale, Superior.
An advertisement appearing in the 1899 ‘Catholic Directory’ :-
Missionary Brotherhood of Franciscan Tertiaries. The object of this Brotherhood is to assist Missionary Priests in England to carry out their work thoroughly. Young men, possessing the necessary qualifications, are admitted as postulants. All further information may be obtained from the Superior, Rev. Father Ignatius Beale, T.O.S.F., St. Anthony’s House, Blue Bell Hill, Nottingham.
Market Street, Hay-on-Wye, Breconshire, 1966. Looking towards High Town and Castle Street – clearly showing a glimpse of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church (the upper storey of the Market Hall) on the right. No. 3 Market Street (the last double-fronted shop on the left of the photo) is Mr. Michael White’s largely Catholic secondhand bookshop where I lived and worked for several months.
HOSPITAL OF SS. JOHN AND ELIZABETH
The Hospital of SS. John and Elizabeth was founded in Great Ormond St., London, by H. E. Cardinal Wiseman and the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem (in particular Sir George Bowyer) on November 19, 1856, and placed in the hands of the Sisters of Mercy newly returned from the Crimea. In 1864 Sir George Bowyer, Knight of Justice of St. John of Jerusalem, built the beautiful Hospital Church of St. John of Jerusalem. In 1898 the Hospital migrated to a more suitable site at St. John’s Wood, and the Church was taken down, transferred, and re-erected, stone for stone, whole and entire, on the new site.
“The Tablet”, Nov. 5, 1870 :-
“Hospital Church of St. John of Jerusalem. A small beautiful image of Our Blessed Lady of Philermos, Patroness of the Order of Malta, blessed by our Holy Father Pius IX, has just been placed in the above Church … (The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Philermos is in the Island of Rhodes).”
‘The Tablet’, Aug. 30, 1884 :-
The late Sir George Bowyer. On Sunday last (i.e. Aug. 24, 1884)a tablet memorial of the late Sir George Bowyer was unveiled in the Church of St. john of Jerusalem, Great Ormond Street, London, of which, and of the adjoining Hospital of SS. John and Elizabeth, he was the founder and munificent patron and benefactor.
Near the memorial in the white marble pavement in front of the high altar, there is a slab bearing a Latin inscription, of which the following is the translation: “Here is buried the heart of George Bowyer, Knight of St. John of Jerusalem and founder of this temple.”
See also ABINGDON
‘Tablet’ 18th April 1863 :-
We have this week to record the death of Joseph Blount, Esq., of this place, which event took place on the 1st of April, in the 84th year of his age, and we feel it a duty, as well as an act of justice towards a man of sterling honesty, not to suffer his name to pass away without a few remarks; although in his love of acts rather than words’ he was one of the last who would have wished his good deeds made known to the world. In referring to the ancestry of the deceased, we have only to mention the word Blount to call up a host of associations connected with the great family of that name, originally sprung from the Counts of Guises, which took such a prominent part in the past events of our country, from the Norman conquest almost to the present day. To this loyal and sturdy race, we were going to say, he claimed kindred — but he cared nothing for such distinctions — through that branch of the family now living at Mapledurham in Oxfordshire. The early part of Mr. Blount’s life was somewhat eventful for being sent to Paris for his education, about the time of the bloody revolution of the Jacobins in 1793 he was, in common with other Englishmen, detained as a prisoner. Among other associations worthy of mention, his intimacy with the late Mr. Cobbett should not be omitted, who spent much of his time at Hurstbourne Tarrant, of which mention is frequently made in the “Rural Rides,” and many of whose registers and other pamphlets were penned in Mr. Blount’s snug library, looking out on the old rookery, and rendered more snug from the warming it received, from the logs which burnt cheerfully in the stove so well known as bearing the inventor’s name. There was a similarity of thought and feeling which necessarily united these men; in both the mind was energetic and the temperament strong; and they resembled each other in their hatred of everything mean and cowardly, as well as in their unflinching love of liberty and justice. Mr. Blount was essentially a poor man’s friend; he did more than pity, he relieved them. It was no uncommon thing twenty years ago to see groups of poor Irish, or distressed artisans, eating pickled pork and potatoes in front of Mr. Blount’s residence; the pewter plates arranged in a row on the wall by the road side, which became so well known as to receive the name of the “wayfarer’s table.” So proverbial was this charity, that a poor tired fellow wanting a dinner once asked, ” Is this what is called the victualling office?” For Mr. Blount’s kindness in this way to the broken down paper-makers who at one time frequented the road in search of employment, he was offered a gold snuff box by a firm in London; but which he refused with the words that “he wanted no return of that sort.” Whatever might have been his virtues or his failings, he was a type of Englishman we should not be willing to lose; so let us look back on that venerable form, with regret that an honest man. has gone from among us. — Andover Advertiser.
From the ‘Catholic Directory’, 1893 :-
“Community of the Oblates of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Young men desirous of joining the above community should apply to the Rev. Philip James McCarthy, Shrine of Our Lady of Dale, Ilkeston, Derbyshire. They devote themselves to night schools, lectures, classes of all kinds, retreats for children, colleges and poor schools. They seek to forward vocations, Religious and Ecclesiastical, of those who live in the towns, and are too poor to go to College, and to see them eventually happily settled in some Religious Order or Diocese. They also have a special care of the Orphans of their town, and provide homes for them. The motto of the Oblates of Our Lady of Good Counsel is ‘Omnia pro Jesu per Mariam.'”
From the same ‘Catholic Directory, 1893 :-
“Shrine of Our Lady of Dale. The International Church of Reparation, Thanksgiving, Intercession. For all Donors of One Shilling annually to the Maintenance Fund there are over 100 Masses a year; and their names are inscribed on the ‘Roll Call of Our Lady of Dale’. 7,000 Guineas are also required for the building fund. Ask at once for Instalment Card. The names of all Founders will be erected within the New Church. A Mass is said every Saturday in Perpetuity (for ever) for all Founders, living or dead. Letters to Rev. Philip James McCarthy, Shrine of Our Lady of Dale, Ilkeston, Derbyshire.
From the ‘Catholic Directory’, 1897 :-
Our Lady and St Thomas of Hereford (Shrine of Our Lady of Dale) Very Rev. Philip James McCarthy; Rev. G. Hawkins. Oblates of Our Lady of Good counsel. Weekdays, Mass 9 coram ssmo (!) Rosary daily 1.30pm, Daily Exposition (!) Benediction every night. (!)
Alas, all this beautiful and promising business about the Community of Oblates of Our Lady of Good Counsel and the Shrine of Our Lady of Dale – ‘International Church of Reparation, Thanksgiving, Intercession’ – has quite passed away, and is now only a dim, faint memory!
The new church of Our Lady and St. Thomas of Hereford was eventually built at Ilkeston, and some slight attempt, I believe, was made to continue the devotion to ‘Our Lady of Dale’ within it – but no attempt seems to have been made at all towards engraving the names of the Founders on brass tablets! It is to be hoped that, at least, some provision was made towards the fulfilment of the obligation of the Saturday Mass for them ‘in Perpetuity’!
Canon Philip James McCarthy, founder of the Oblates of Our Lady of Good Counsel, died on July 2nd, 1908. R.I.P.
See LONDON, SISTERS OF OUR LADY OF GOOD COUNSEL
INSTITUTE OF ST. ANDREW
The Institute of Saint Andrew was founded on the Feast of SS. Simon and Jude, October 28, 1870, when Father Bampfield and another priest (who I wonder?) made their “oblation” into the hands of their Diocesan, Cardinal Manning. The Institute was most unfortunately disbanded (on account of severe financial difficulties) in 1912 – only 12 years after Fr. Bampfiield’s death in 1900.
In 1902 there was a convent of Sisters of the Infant Jesus (of Le Mans) at 55, Colebrook Row, Islington, London. They nursed the sick in their own homes and had a Home for servants out of place. The Superioress-General was stationed at this convent at this time! The servants out of place were boarded and lodged for 7s 6d a week!
KINGSBRIDGE – THE CISTERCIANS OF WOOD BARTON
Wood Barton, Devon; Epping, Essex; and Martin, near Salisbury – these three places housed for a number of years in the beginning of the 20th Century small communities of French Cistercian monks (‘Trappists’), who have long since all returned to France – leaving English Catholicism, I am sure, the poorer.
The house at Martin rejoiced in the lovely name of ‘Our Lady of Paradise’ … Cistercians have ever been true poets in their nomenclature. The Cistercian Community at Coopersale House, Epping, was set up in 1914 – in the 1915 ‘Directory’ it is mentioned, for the first time, thus: ‘Epping. Coopersale House, Coopersale. Cistercians (1914.) Revv. Hippolyte Verrier (Superior), Maur Verger, O.C.R., Mass daily; Sunday, Mass 8, 10.30. Priests received for retreats , etc.’ By 1923 the Cistercians had gone from Epping! By 1920 they had gone from Martin, nr. Salisbury!
The laying of the foundation-stone of the Cistercian Monastery (designed by Canon Scoles) at Wood Barton, near Kingsbridge, Devon, took place on Wednesday, December 17th, 1902. The Bishop of Plymouth laid the stone, assisted by the Abbot of Melleray (France) and Fr. Jean-Baptiste, Superior of the Wood Barton Community. Only one side of the projected monastery was ever built. It was planned as a ‘House of Refuge’ in case the Melleray Community should ever be completely turned out of France.
Some 18 Cistercian monks from Melleray, under the leadership of Fr. Jean-Baptiste Ollitrant de Keryvallan (afterwards, I believe, Abbot), arrived at Wood Barton in April, 1902, and took up residence in a farmhouse until the one wing of their projected monastery (all that was ever built) was ready for occupation. The place has been deserted since about 1920-1921, when the Community returned to Melleray. It was dedicated to ‘Our Lady of Compassion’.
“Woodleigh, Loddiswell, Our Lady of Compassion, Woodbarton. closed.” ! The community withdrew to Melleray, France, in 1921.
This large “tin” temporary Abbatial Church at Appuldurcombe, near Ventnor, and, later, at Quarr, near Ryde, ended up at Woodbarton, near Kingsbridge, as the church of the monastery of some exiled French “Trappist” monks. By 1922 this community had returned to France – since when the building has not been unused as a place of worship. I visited it in the early 1930s … quite deserted, but still furnished!
In the 1923 ‘Directory’ appears the following melancholy notice:
Extract from ‘The Universe’, Feb. 18th, 1949.
The following appears in the column headed ‘Apostolate of the Countryside’ – it obviously refers to St. Monica’s Priory, Bindon House, Langford Budville, near Wellington, which was, until so recently, the Noviciate house of the English Province of the Augustinian Fathers of the Assumption – it is sad that they had to leave it – but it is more economical to unite the Noviciate with the Scholasticate in Surrey :-
“About three miles and a half from Wellington, Somerset, there is an early Victorian property for sale which has been used as a religious house. There is a chapel. A lounge hall leads to two good reception rooms, one of them used as a library fitted with bookcases and panelled with oak. There are 5 large and 7 small bedrooms, good kitchen premises and refectory. The house faces south and overlooks a terraced garden. There is a walled kitchen garden of about one acre and some glass houses. Including meadow land, the property is about 22 acres in extent. There is also a gardener’s cottage and brick outbuilding with living rooms above them.”
It would appear that, seemingly, in 1911, the Sisters of Providence of the Institute of Charity (Rosminian Sisters) had small convents both at Ledbury and at Bromyard. In 1903 some Dominican Sisters had a convent at St. Thomas’s, Homend, Ledbury – but they were no longer there in 1904.
Liverpool’s dear old historic pro-cathedral of St. Nicholas is now (1969) threatened with demolition – its place having been taken by the space-rocket monstrosity on nearby Brownlow Hill!
LONDON: SISTERS OF OUR LADY OF GOOD COUNSEL
Who, I wonder, were the ‘Sisters of Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel, who, in 1893, had All Souls’ Home, Burnley, Lancashire; St Joseph’s Home, Nelson, Lancashire, and Holy Redeemer Home, 120, Lansdowne Road, Hackney, London. N.E.?
And who were the ‘Associate-Sisters of Our Lady of Good Counsel’ who, in 1893, had a Nursing Home at 38, Ladbroke Road, Notting Hill, London, W., and a Maternity Home at 40, Filmer Road, Fulham, London, S.W. – and who had under their wing the ‘Holy Cross Society of Trained Nurses’ at Ladbroke House, Ladbroke Road, Notting Hill, London W.
And what was ‘St. Camillus Hospital for Men and Boys’, 3, Sydney Street, Fulham Road, London, S.W., which figures in the 1893 ‘Directory’?
And who were the ‘Sisters of Saint Veronica’, who, in 1893, conducted ‘St. Veronica’s Retreat’, Burlington Lane, Chiswick, London – an establishment for the ‘treatment and cure of Inebriety’? I beleive this establishment and its work was later taken over by the ‘Poor Sisters of Nazareth’. I suppose the ‘Sisters of St. Veronica’ died right out – like so many others, alas, of purely English foundation.
St Veronica’s Retreat, Burlington Lane, Chiswick. Expiation Sisters of St. Veronica (???)
In the 1899 ‘Directory’ no mention is made of the ‘Sisters of Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel’, nor do the ‘Associate-Sisters of Our Lady of Good Counsel’, any longer appear – the ‘Holy Cross Society of Trained Nurses’, however, still finds place in the Directory for this year … but its address is now St. Augustine’s, 2, Ladbroke Square, Notting Hill, London, W. – with the Maternity Home still at 40, Filmer Road, Fulham, London, S.W. In this year ‘St. Veronica’s Retreat’, Chiswick is already run by the ‘Poor Sisters of Nazareth’ – no mention being made at all of the ‘Sisters of St. Veronica’!
In the 1887 ‘Directory’ we find the following advertisement: ‘home of Rest for those who have suffered from Drink, Montague House, Brook Green, London, W. – spacious House and grounds. For terms etc. apply to Mrs. W. Smith, Lady Superintendent. In the 1890 ‘Directory’ we have exactly the same advertisement – only the address is now given as ‘St. Veronica’s Retreat, Burlington Lane, Chiswick’. Mrs. w. Smith is still ‘Lady Superintendent’. Is it too much to imagine, then, that this Mrs. W. Smith was the Foundress of the ‘Sisters of St. Veronica’? I think she most probably was.
In the 1887 ‘Directory’ the Hospital at 3, Sydney Street, Fulham Road, London, S.W., is called ‘St. Raphael’s Hospital for Men’. It was founded in 1877 for Catholic men. Application for admission had to be made to Rev. E.S. Keogh, the Oratory, S.W. Subscriptions and donations were gratefully received by Mrs. Mathews, at the Hospital. I wonder why, by 1893, its name was changed to ‘St. Camillus’ Hospital’?
LULWORTH – CISTERCIAN ABBEY OF ST SUSAN
The site of St. Susan’s Trappist Abbey, Lulworth, and its few poor remains, is the property of the Army, and used as a “Bombing range”! Happily, before this final indignity overtook it, the bodies of the Monks and Lay-Brothers buried within the former cloister-garth were reverently exhumed by Squire Weld and conveyed to Mount St. Bernard Abbey, Leicestershire, where they now rest amidst Brethren of their own Rule and Habit.
Description of England’s first post-‘reformation’ Abbey – the Cistercian-Trappist monastery of the Most Holy Trinity and Saint Susan at Lulworth, Dorsetshire (taken from ‘A Concise History of the Cistercian Order’) :-
… In March, 1796, the Community entered their new monastery, which had occupied nearly two years in the erection, situated about half a mile south-east of Lulworth Castle, and about equal distance from the sea-coast.
This monastery, though small in dimensions, yet contained all the accommodation requisite for the perfection of a monastic life. The style of architecture was plain Early English (no doubt what we should now term ‘pastry cook Gothick’!)
The cloisters surrounded the quadrangle of the Burial-Ground, that the open grave, which is always renewed when one of the Brotherhood is buried, might be constantly present to the contemplation of the Religious whose chief (?) object is to prepare themselves for a happy death.
It was dedicated to God under the patronage of St. Susan (one would love an explanation of this extraordinary dedication!). The situation was admirably calculated for prayer, meditation and heavenly still ness. It stood in the midst of a valley, shut in by gentle sloping hills, crowned with thriving plantations. Nothing broke the solemn silence which reigned through this lovely vale but the convent bell and the whispering of the playful waves on the adjacent shore. Even the winds of heaven were restrained from visiting these sacred shades of retirement; for the Down stood up as a barrier against their fury.”
N.B. St. Susan’s, Lulworth, was raised to the rank of an Abbey in 1813, and Dom Antony (a French monk) was blessed as Abbot by the Rt. Revd. Dr. Poynter, V.A., of the London District … England’s first Abbot since the ‘reformation’. St. Susan’s Abbey was abandoned on July 10th, 1817, when its Community sailed from Weymouth to Melleray in Brittany.
June 30th 1952: According to the Revd Dr. George oliver in his “Collections”, the Cistercian (Trappist) Abbey at Lulworth was dedicated to the Holy Trinity and St. Susan. And in the same most truly interesting “Collections” of the excellent Dr. Oliver we find that the full name of Abbot Anthony of Lulworth was Dom Antoine Saulnier de Beaureaund, a quondam Canon of Sens Cathedral, Born at Toigny, in Champagne, August 20th, 1764. He was a D.D. of the Sorbonne, emigrated to England at the time of the great revolution, joined the Trappists of St. Susan’s, Lulworth, in june, 1795, and was chosen fourth prior and first (and only) Abbot of that monastery.
He was blessed as Abbot in London by Bishop Poynter in August, 1813 – having been Abbot-Elect since May, 1813, when St. Susan’s was raised to abbatial rank. He died at the Abbey of Melleray, near Nantes.
Also: We learn from the Revd Dr. Oliver’s invaluable “Collections” that Dorset was the home for a few years of a small French Exile Community of Carthusian monks … “It may not be amiss to observe that a small community of Carthusians from Gallion, near Rouen, emigrated into this country at the French Revolution, and that through the generosity of the Arundell family, they found asylum at Coomb, near Shaftesbury. They were eight in number; their Prior died there, and was buried at Donhead St. Mary, Wiltshire, with the following inscription:-
+ D.O.M. Dom Authelm Guillemet, a Carthusian monk, of the Convent of Bourbon, in Normandy. Banished from his native country for his religion. Died at Coomb, April 21st, 1798, in the 84th year of his age, and 55th of his profession. May he rest in peace. Amen. ‘He died in a good old age, full of rays’. Gen. xxv. 8.
In 1833 a survivor of this little community at Coomb was still living, aet. 84, at the Grande Chartreuse – this was Dom Antoine Latarre, who retained ‘the warmest sense of gratitude towards the Arundell family.’
The saintly Fr. Francis Larive, M.S.F.S., died at Petersfield, Hants, 28th May, 1893 (in what many people at that time thought of as the “odour of sanctity”).
“His sadness was not entirely personal, but came partly, as with many sensitive people, from the realisation that life itself is sad. To offset depression he had the Christian revelation of hope and love, which meant much to him.” (Derek Hudson, of Lewis Carroll, in his “Lewis Carroll”) “There is a sadness in coming to the end of anything in Life. Man’s instinct clings to the Life that will never end”. (Lewis Carroll)
Extract from “Catholics in Oxford”, by Father Martindale, S.J.
“We cannot but record the name of Brother Dewell, a lay brother of the Society, who died on April 10, 1899. Before joining the Society he was captain in a line regiment and saw service in India, Candia and elsewhere; and on becoming a religious devoted his not inconsiderable possessions to the service of God’s poor. He spent some fifteen years at St Aloysius’s, and his name became incredibly beloved by the distressed and the suffering. He was buried in the cemetery at Botley on April 13.”
It is interesting to recall that it was this same Captain (later “Brother”) Dewell who, in 1861, introduced the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales to England in the person of Fr. Francis Larive, M.S.F.S. – which led, in 1875, to the building of the charming little church of St. Aldhelm in his (Captain Dewell’s) home-town of Malmesbury, Wiltshire.
August 12th, 1987.
Leaf plucked from the grave in Botley Cemetery, North Hinksey Lane, Oxford, of Captain Brother Dewell of the Society of Jesus, who died on April 10th, 1899. In 1861 he had brought from India to his home-town of Malmesbury, in Wiltshire, Fr. Francis Larive, M.S.F.S. – thus introducing into England the “Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales” (Fransalian Fathers).
Botley Cemetery is next door to 20 North Hinksey Lane (where I am writing this). I must take a photograph of his grave which is close to the cemetery chapel. There is a picture of him in the church at Devizes, Wiltshire – which is still served by the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales.
St Aldhelm’s Malmesbury, is one of my firm favourites among the many R.C. Churches in Britain which I have visited. I find it wholly charming, containing, as it does, Fr. Larive’s historic statue of Our Lady of La Salette, and three fine stained-glass windows from the dear old pro-Cathedral at Clifton.
20th February, 1995.
I have been trying to discover the Christian name of Captain Dewell for you – but have failed to make it out on his grave, for the lettering is so worn by time (nearly 100 years) that it is hard to decipher. I think, however, that it may have been Charles – but I will continue my endeavours to discover it. I took a photograph of the grave, and will let you have one when it is developed. It is just a simple stone (of granite) cross hard-by the Cemetery chapel.
I have been to Tetbury, and also to Stonehouse when it was still M.S.F.S.. I was not aware that Father Larive had thought of starting a mission in Tetbury in the 1880’s. The Congregation is very short of vocations in England nowadays, as you will know. One wonders what the future holds for it (and for so many others as well now). It seems only to flourish in India at this present time and I was told recently that its next Superior-General is almost certainly to be an Indian. It may well be so. Whatever happens in the future the Salesians of Annecy (Fransalians) have become part of the history of your diocese of Clifton. It seems a pity that they gave up their nice house at Cheltenham.
Donald E. Halliday, Old Manor House, Ferry Hinksey, Oxford
Marnhull has had Benedictine Dames, Canons Regular of the Lateran, Benedictine Oblates of the Sacred Heart, Cistercian (Trappist) Nuns and Helpers of the Holy Souls … now one single secular priest runs the place alone!
An extract from ‘A Brief Sketch of Marnhull Catholic Church’, published in 1924 by the Salesian Press, Battersea, London :-
“after the departure of Father McCarthy (i.e. in June, 1884), Marnhull was entrusted to the care of the Canons Regular of the Lateran. Their primary intention was to set up a small college (i.e. the ‘Apostolic School’ or ‘Alumniate’ – now at St. Augustine’s Priory, Datchet, Bucks) of their Order here. To help forward this intention, the Right Revd Bishop Vaughan of Plymouth, had a larger Sanctuary and Sacristy built on to the existing Church, and the Canons, on their part, erected, in 1886, the adjoining building, which they named the Priory of St. Joseph. The Prior appointed was Father H. Augustine White (who died in 1932 as Titular Abbot of Waltham and Prior of Christ Church, Eltham, London, R.I.P.), who was also charged with the care of the Mission. Dom Ives, C.R.L. (we learn from “Short Sketch of the Honiton Catholic Mission from the date of its commencement at Deer Park in 1876” that Rev. Father Ives used to come from Marnhull to the chapel of the Hon. Colin and Lady Frances Lindsay at Deer Park, Buckerell, Honiton, Devon, at the week-ends … and that by special leave from the Abbot-General, C.R.L., he made his profession on his death bed. He must, one supposes, have been a secular priest who elected to try his vocation with the Canons), died here on the 21st April, 1887, and was buried in the Catholic graveyard attached to the Church. A simple stone was subsequently (1924) placed on his grave at the instance of the priest then in residence (Father Michael Weddick, Ph.D.). After a stay of seven years, the Canons, in 1891, sold the land which they had bought to the Abbe L. Feron. This was a French congregation of religious on special lines. (These were the short-lived ‘Benedictine Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus’). Accompanied by the Revd Alexander Constant Dodard, and others, the Abbe took charge of the Mission, as well as possession of the property. Father Dodard was put in charge of the Mission-work on 25th August, 1891. However, the Canons, by request, still supplied a priest for Sundays and Holy Days, until such time as the priest-in-charge could speak English sufficiently well to carry on the work unaided. The Abbe Feron made some further additions to the buildings erected by the Canons. He also bought a house in Shaftesbury. In this house he furnished and opened a small public chapel. Here we remark the striking circumstance that the new spark of the long extinguished Catholic Faith in Shaftesbury was struck, and new fire kindled, from Marnhull.
In 1897 the Abbe Feron appears to have abandoned his original idea, and instead formed a new plan for himself and for those in his charge. He was no longer young and now wished for something more solid and secure. As he had formed his rules largely on Benedictine lines, he now formed the wish to join the Benedictine Order. To this end he opened up correspondence with an Abbey in the South of France (almost certainly one belonging to the French Province of the Subiaco Congregation O.S.B. – hardly a Solesmes one). The Abbot there agreed to take over his work, and to admit him, and those who would be willing to follow him, into the Noviciate of the Abbey. In the following year, however, the Benedictine Fathers, finding the matter increasingly difficult, decided to surrender the Mission at Marnhull into the hands of the Bishop.”
It is of interest to note that Our Lady is venerated at Marnhull under the title of “Our Lady of Many Gifts”.
The ‘Tablet’ of Aug.6th, 1938, confirms my surmise that the Community of Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, founded at Marnhull, Dorset, by Fr. Louis Feron, was a Community of Oblates of St. Benedict – whose members therefore would certainly have worn the monastic habit, both at Marnhull and at Shaftesbury. Recording the death of Fr. A. C. Dodard (R.I.P.), the ‘Tablet’ says: “Alexandre-Constant Dodard came to England about 50 years ago (circa 1888), with the intention of joining a Congregation of Benedictine Oblates recently started. He soon afterwards joined the secular clergy of the diocese of Plymouth …”
Fr. Dodard was buried on July 29, 1938, at Buckfast (surely, let us hope, in the monastic habit of St. Benedict, which he had worn and loved at the Priory, Marnhull, as a “Benedictine Oblate of the Sacred Heart of Jesus”!)
1897 Catholic Directory: Marnhull, Dorset, Rev. Constant Dodard, Oblate of the Sacred Heart.
See also SHAFTESBURY
Originally served by the last of the English Discalced Carmelite Friars (O.D.C.) – but now by the Sacred Heart Fathers (of St. Quentin) (S.C.J.). The Discalced Carmelites returned to England and settled in Kensington, London.
From 1865 until 1878 the Carmelite Friars of the Ancient Observance had the cure of souls at St. Mary’s, Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan.
They were apparently of Dutch and Irish nationality – tho’ well before the end the Dutch had obviously been quite withdrawn in favour of the Irish. For a year or two (1868-1869) there was actually an “Academy for Young Gentlemen” run by the Friars, of which Father G. E. Farrington, O.C.C., is listed as “Principal”. In 1878 the English Benedictines took the Mission over – but it is now a secular church.
The Premonstratensian or Norbertine Canons first came to Manchester in 1889 from the Belgian Abbey of Tongerloo and set up home at the Oldham Road Flint Glass Works on Varley Street in the Miles Platting area. The mission was opened on Christmas Eve, 1889, by the much beloved Abbot Martin Geudens. Schools and a very fine church were built under his rule. He retired to Belgium in 1913 and died the year following.
The foundation stone of Corpus Christi Minor Basilica was was laid on 14 July 1906, by Bishop Louis Charles Casartelli and it was opened the following year on 5 November 1907. The architect was Ernest Gunson. Two influential Abbots in the twentieth century were Abbot Seadon and Abbot Toner.
MINSTER IN THANET
From the “Tablet”, August 17, 1878:-
“Minster in Thanet – The Benedictine nuns from Ramsgate took possession last week of the new home provided for them by the charity of a generous benefactor in the village of Minster, about five miles from their former convent, which has passed to the nuns of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady, who are making a foundation at Ramsgate. The temporary chapel at Minster was opened on St. Lawrence’s Day with a High Mass, the Rev. F. Superior of St. Augustine’s Ramsgate, being the officiating priest…”
MISSIONARIES OF THE HOLY FAMILY
The Missionaries of the holy Family – who are supposed to cater especially for so-called “Late Vocations” – were founded by Father Jean-Baptiste Berthier (1840-1908).
MOUNT ST. BERNARD’S ABBEY
Co-advertisement which appeared in ‘The Tablet’ Nov. 24, 1855 :-
“The Reformatory, Mount St. Bernard’s Abbey, near Loughborough, Leicestershire. Wanted Brothers for the Third Order (sic!) as Teachers, Carpenters, Tailors, Shoemakers, Blacksmiths, and Farm Labourers, single and disposed, for the love of God, to devote themselves to this good work.
The Brothers of the Third Order will wear a religious dress, say an Office (in English), have a code of Rules, observe only the fasts of the Church, pass through a noviciate, and make profession of simple vows for three years.
For further particulars apply, personally or by letter, to the Abbot of the Abbey.”
Miss Balfour, the neice of the Earl of Balfour, bought the land and in 1925 built the church and bungalow at “Kenabos”, Mullion, Cornwall. Father Dobbeleers was the first priest of St. Michael’s Church, Mullion. This is the seat of the devotion to Our Lady of the Lizard.
April 20th, 1969. Blessed John Schorne (or Shorne), Rector of North Marston, Bucks, from 1290 until (his death?) in 1314. His relics were translated to St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in 1481 (where presumably they still are ). Blessed John Shorne, pray for your poor faithless England of to-day!)
Abbot Athanasius Avignon, O.S.B., formerly of Caermaria Abbey, Cardigan, South Wales, died in Belgium in 1922.
Mrs. Blanche Warre Cornish, of Eton, my mother’s sponsor at her reception into the Church, died in August 1922.
Enid Maud Dinnis – The perfect Franciscan Tertiary 1873-1942 (November 24). R.I.P.
Dom Bede Winslow, monk of Ramsgate, was raised to the Priesthood on August 24th, 1922.
In the 1902 ‘Directory’ there is a convent of ‘Soeurs de L’Adoration du Sacre Coeur’ at 4, Basset Road, North Kensington, London. These were the “Tyburn Nuns”.
The last of the ‘Twelve Restored Apostles’ of the Catholic Apostolic Church’, Francis Valentine Woodhouse, died on February 3rd, 1901.
In 1904 there was a Convent of ‘Sisters of St. Francis Regis’ at Faversham, Kent.
“His Eminence Mar Timotheos I, Archbishop-Metropolitan of North America” – (the Most Revd Joseph Rene Vilatte) – was consecrated in Colombo, Ceylon, on May 29th, 1892. In 1925 he was reconciled to the Holy See of Rome and went to live at the Cistercian Abbey of Pont Colbert, Versailles, France, ‘on a retired archbishop’s pension granted him by Pope Pius XI.’ He died in 1929. R.I.P.
The English Episcopal Church. Diocese of St. Bees (erected 1946) – Lord Bishop of St. Bees, Rt. Revd. F. D. Bacon, D.D., 7 Pole Lane, Failsworth, Manchester. Diocese of Hayes – Lord Bishop of Hayes, Rt. Revd Charles Saul. Magazine: “St. Bee’s Clarion”.
Peter F. Anson was born in 1889. From 1910 to 1924 he was a member of the Benedictine brotherhood on Caldey Island, one one of the twenty monks who followed Abbot Aelred Carlyle over to Rome in 1913. Reverting to lay-life at the age of thirty-five he soon began to make a name for himself as an author-artist. The first of his thirty-six published books appeared in 1927. He was the Co-founder of the Apostleship of the Sea in 1921, and later on became a founder-member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists. In 1969 he retired to his former island-home as an eventide home, where half-way through his eighty-fourth year he is still busy with drawing, painting, and writing; having been given the rare status of a Reformed Cistercian choir-oblate. Peter Anson died at Edinburgh on July 10, 1975. R.I.P.
I am wondering just when precisely the Capuchins were established at Nuneaton and Bedworth, Warwickshire? The earliest reference I can find to Nuneaton in “Franciscan Annals” is in the April, 1882, Number, where it is recorded that F. William, O.S.F.C., had received 16 members into the 3rd Order at Nuneaton on Sunday, March 5th.
In 1889 the Capuchin Franciscans bought from the Archdiocese of Birmingham Archbishop Ullathorne’s St. Bernard’s Seminary, Olton, for £15, 500. It was opened as a Franciscan Friary on October 4, 1889, but the foundation-stone of the permanent Friary Church was not laid until April 21st, 1926, and the completed Church (of the Holy Ghost and Our Lady Immaculate) was not opened until November 12th, 1929.
See also PONTYPOOL and FATHER SERAPHIM, O.F.M.Cap.
The “Seraphic College” of the English Friars Minor Capuchin, began at Cowley, Oxford, in 1905-1906, moved to Panton, Wragby, Lincs. In 1920, transferred to Over Wyresdale, Lancaster, Oct. 6th, 1936, is now, since 1933-1934, at Upper Norwood, London.
Cowley and Panton are both quite given up by the Capuchins – but Over Wyresdale still (for the present!) continues as, I understand, a college for “Late Vocations”. It is dedicated in honour of St. Laurence of Brindisi, O.F.M. Cap.
St. Laurence’s College, Over Wyresdale, has now been given up. The work for Capuchin “Late Vocations” is transferred, I believe, to Birkenhead.
“You will see that I have again changed my abode and am returned to my Alma Mater and need not go far to have before my eyes the little-headed willows two and two and that landscape, the charm of Oxford, green shouldering grey, which is already abridged and soured and perhaps will be put out altogether.” (From a letter to Canon Dixon written by Father Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., on the occasion of his being appointed to the staff of St. Aloysius’ Church, Oxford, in 1878).
‘In this church (now St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary Achool) the great Cardinal Newman assisted at the adorable Sacrifice of the Mass.
St Ignatius Chapel, St. Clement’s Street, Oxford, (Oxford’s first post-reformation Catholic church) was built in the year 1793 by Fr. Charles Leslie, of the Society of Jesus. From 1793 till 1875 it was Oxford’s only Catholic church. In 1875, however, was opened Saint Aloysius’ Church in Woodstock Road. Saint Ignatius Chapel was used as a church until 1911 when the Church of Saints Edmund and Frideswide was opened in Iffley Road. Since 1911 it has been used as an elementary school – now known as St . Joseph’s School – so Saint Ignatius has at long last disappeared from Oxford’s dedications – a pity!
The Venerable Fr. Dominic, the saintly Passionist, who received Cardinal Newman into the church, said Mass in this historic chapel. Would to God it had been kept as a church!’
The ‘Catholic Directory’ for 1911 states that there was at 28 Jeune Street, Oxford, a Convent of Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament’ – these, I think were the same as those formerly at Taunton, i.e. the Sacramentine Nuns.
The “Catholic Directory” for the year 1913 (the year of my birth!) tells us that at that time the Sisters of the Order of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament (Sacramentive Nuns) had a convent in Oxford at 28 Jeune Street, Cowley Road (it must have been inconceivably small and poky for the Jeune Street houses are but small villa residences, of the usual late Victorian town type). This had entirely disappeared by the time that the 1914 ‘Directory’ was compiled!
The same 1913 Directory also lists a convent of Daughters of the Cross (of Liege, I wonder?) at 233 Iffley Road, Oxford. Neither of these convents appear in the 1914 edition of the Directory.
May 28,1952. Extract from ‘The Tablet’, Saturday, October 26, 1912 :-
S. Frideswide’s Day in Oxford, 1912. (From a correspondent)
‘October 19 is associated nowadays with St. Peter of Alcantara but it used to be a great feast day for the English, particularly in and about Oxford. As S. Frideside’s Day, it is honourably known to students of the Sarum Kalendar. and was for long the gaudy at Christ Church here in Oxford. Papal indulgences were proffered for a procession to the local Saint’s shrine on her feast. A good custom (extinct, as a matter of fact, for not more than a century) was taken up in 1905, when a small group of Catholic Oxonians, University men and townsfolk, began visiting S. Frideswide in pilgrim fashion on October 19 first walking to her grave in the Cathedral, then to her well in the yet quiet and pastoral hamlet of Binsley.
But now something far better has been done to show her true honour. Last Saturday saw the unveiling of her statue and shrine in the new, unfurnished church of SS. Edmund and Frideswide, the needed second church which was a gift to the Oxford congregation from a generous donor who remains anonymous. At the lower angle of the aisle, which faces what will be the Lady Chapel, the architect has placed the baptistery, and beside it, with the advantage of a one-light north window obliquely overhead, stands the figure of the patronal Virgin and Abbess, S. Frideswide, or (as one should really say in speaking of a Saxon) S. Frithuswith.
It is carved in wood by Herr Ferdinand Stuflesser of St. Ulrich in Groden, Tyrol, from a most carefully detailed design by the eminent American architect, Mr. Ralph Adams Cram, and under the direction of the designer it has been coloured with perfect taste by Miss Margaret Fletcher of Oxford.
The pedestal was designed by the Rev. Benedict Williamson, C.SS.S., who built the church which has now been enriched by it, and the work was carried out by Mr. James Rogers, an Oxford craftsman of known skill and experience.
The rich dossal and riddels behind the statue are of Oxford blue and gold, in Memling tapestries made by Watts & Co. of London.
Now it is risky, to say the least, to have several brains busied on the designs and execution of one work of art, when they cannot in the nature of things come personally into touch while their common concern lasts. But in this case the shrine has had an unusual and continuous amount of thought and care for some five years. The result has a most satisfying congruousness; the outstanding excellence of the thing is its unity, its harmony, its interplay.
The lines of the graceful pedestal and of the noble hangings and their supports are long and supple, and between them the carved figure is exactly what the name implies, a ‘bond of peace’. She is in the garb of a Canoness Regular partly because her priory was for centuries in the possession of the Austin Canons, but chiefly because the oldest representation of S. Frideswide, in which she appears not as a thegu’s daughter but as a nun, shows her so habited. Everyone knows how picturesque is that surplice and choir cloak. There is an opinion abroad that the Saint must have been a Benedictine, but there is really nothing to prove it.
In her left hand (the hands are miracles of delicate carving) she holds a tall abbatial staff with the Agnus Dei in the curve of it, and the vexillium attached to the staff, falling between that and her palm; in the right hand is a model of her own monastic foundation, now the Oxford Cathedral. Her feet are travelling a sylvan path of ivy and oak leaves, and oak branches, in sweet autumnal tints, reach up and half-obstruct her steps. All this is to symbolise her three years in the forest, of which all the old Latin manuscript lives tell us.
The figure is five feet six inches high. The rather pallid spiritual face is most gentle, but full of young dignity and nobility. So winning a face is seldom seen on modern church statuary.
On the pedestal of natural oak are blazoned the arms of University and City, and the front panel is adorned with a charming bit of symbolism copied from the remains of the ancient and empty shrine of S. Frideswide in the Oxford Cathedral.
Two inscriptions face the spectator, the one in smaller lettering on top. It commemorates the five years’ pastoral work here of Father Arthur Day, S.J., now of Preston, thus gratefully memorialized by his flock, as all our superiors of the mission (i.e. St. Aloysius, Woodstock Road) have been in turn, but none perhaps in a form so striking as this. The inscription reads:
“Rdo Patri e Societate Jesu Arthuro Francisco Day, ecclesiae S. Aloysii in hac urbe Rectori ob quinquennium laborum feliciter peractum, A.S. MDCCCCVIII gratique erga Deum amici posuerunt.”
Below, in much bolder Anglo-Saxon capitals Mr. Rogers has carved this invocation along the three-sided surface:-
“Salve Frideswida Nostra / Patriae Haud Immemor Carae / Pro Oxoniensibus Tuis / Christum Dominum Deum Implora.”
There it all is; the deserved record of a personal gratitude, and the renewed cry to her who of old hallowed the beginnings of our “towery city, branchy between towers”, to remember it with love before God’s Throne ….’
The December, 1919, number of “Franciscan Annals” contains an appeal for donations towards the sum of £2,500 required by Father Cuthbert, Superior of St. Anselm’s O.F.M.Cap. University House of Studies, St John Street, Oxford, for the purchase of “a small, but sufficient, freehold property, easily adaptable to our needs…” This was obviously the villa or villas, in the Iffley Road which afterwards became “Grosseteste House”, and served the Oxford Capuchins for residence until “Greyfriars” was built in 1930-31.
The Capuchin Franciscan Friary adjoining the former Jesuit Church of SS. Edmund and Frideswide in Iffley Road, Oxford, was designed by Mr. Gilbert Gardner in what is described as ‘Breton-Norman’ style. It was begun to be built on March 25, 1930, and its Foundation-Stone was laid by Archbishop Williams, of Birmingham, on July 17, 1930.
The statue of St. Frideswide in SS. Edmund and Frideswide’s Church, Oxford, was unveiled and blessed on her Feast-Day, October 19th, 1912.
The artist who was responsible for the striking painting of the Crucifixion, with St. Francis and Bl. Agnellus, above the High Altar in SS. Edmund and Frideswide’s Capuchin Franciscan Church, Iffley Road, Oxford, (painted to commemorate the 7th centenary of the death of Bl. Agnellus in 1936) is Mr. James Perceval. Beautiful tho’ the painting undoubtedly is, I cannot but regret the still more striking and beautiful one which it replaces. It seems to me unpardonable that this, the original reredos of this singularly lovely church, should have been entirely swept away in favour of the present much smaller painting. Surely this Bl. Agnellus memorial could have equally suitably been erected in a side chapel, leaving the really glorious reredos of the High Altar in situ for posterity to enjoy and appreciate! But, alas, our eyes will never again behold the glories of this demolished altar-piece.
As I remember it, it was quite ‘Beuronese’ in conception and execution – Our Blessed Lady with her Divine Child occupying the centre immediately above the Tabernacle and Exposition Throne, flanked on her left by St. Frideswide of Oxford and Bl. Edmund Campion and on her right by St. Edmund of Abingdon and St. Ignatius Loyola (the church was originally – and until 1928 – a Jesuit one) … the whole fairly glowing with reds, blues, greens, and yellows, and forming a noble triptych, which could be, and was, closed up during Passiontide each year in a most convenient and effective manner.
Certainly I never saw anything even remotely approaching or resembling it elsewhere … its bold lines and inspired colouring fairly lifted the heart as one entered the (in those happy days) somewhat bare and austere little Norman Church, fresh from the gifted brain and hands of that true servant of God, the late Father Benedict Williamson, O.SS.S. (R.I.P.).
I fear it must be said that Fr. Dunstan of London, O.F.M.Cap. (now Minister-Provincial of England), successfully spoilt the beauty and simplicity of this lovely and unique little church by his lamentable re-furnishing of its interior during the fatal years 1935-1936! Fr. Dustan died on April 27th, 1960. R.I.P.
The present Warden of Greyfriars and Parish Priest of SS. Edmund and Fridewide’s (Fr. Peter, O.F.M.Cap.) has recently, alas, marred its interior still further – and has turned out the last remaining beautiful thing left of its original fittings … the glorious carved wooden statue of Oxford’s dear patroness, St. Frideswide, Virgin and Abbess, titular (with St. Edmund) of this long-suffering, much-pulled-about, all-but-ruined church!!!
With her painting gone from the High Altar reredos, and her lovely life-sized statue removed from the corner by the Baptistery it occupied so honourably for so long, there is now nothing left save her name on the notice-board to remind one that this church is a gift to Almighty God in the especial honour of Oxford’s beloved Patroness! St. Edmund, too, is likewise no more than a name painted on the notice-board. That any priest or priests could be so unfilial towards the titular and heavenly patrons of the Church they are privileged to serve completely passes my comprehension! But, alas and alas, so it is – and we can only grieve and wonder.
Most happily, since this was written in 1955, Fr. Peter has been persuaded to re-instal this lovely statue in the Church – tho’ it has not been put back in its original position, unfortunately. I think it was for St. Frideswide’s Day (Oct. 19th) 1958 that it reappeared – and it has happily been permitted to remain ever since (April 23, 1961)
March, 1969, St. Frideswide’s beautiful statue has once again been banished from this her own church – but it houses one of (of all people) St. Maria Goretti!!!
‘The Tablet’, Dec. 9, 1882 :-
St. Mary’s noviciate and Church, Paignton. The Marist Fathers have recently established a noviciate at the Quarry, Paignton, and in it several young students are at present receiving their education. The oratory, which is open to the Catholics of the neighbourhood, having become too small to accommodate the numbers who attend, the Fathers have determined to erect a church. The site of the new building is one of the loveliest spots in Paignton, commending a view altogether unsurpassed. The church is in the Gothic style of architecture. Its length is 78 feet; breadth, 31 feet, with a side chapel at the south-west corner. The building was designed by one of the Fathers, and the church is expected to be opened at Easter.
Most interesting extract from “Franciscan Annals”, Nov. – Dec. 1944 :-
“Franciscan House of Our Lady of Pity, Pebworth, near Stratford-on-Avon. Quite recently, some devoted Tertiary ladies have opened the above large house, where, at present they are caring for a number of old people. These Tertiaries are laywomen living together, for mutual help and the benefit of others.
They themselves work hard in various ways, to raise the funds necessary to conduct the establishment, and they are most anxious to get in touch with other Tertiaries, both men and women, especially those who are living as isolated Tertiaries. The house is situated in a beautiful part of the country, and its doors are always open to all lovers of St. Francis.
Sick, weary, and poor Tertiaries are all welcome, as well as those strong and active. There are interests for all. Address the Principal as above.2
The “Principal” was “Sister Gomme” – now of Camberwell Rd., London!!!
The Capuchin Church and Friary at Penmaenmawr, Caernarvonshire, North Wales, is dedicated in honour of Our Blessed Lady of the Rosary in gratitude for the restoration to health (after ten years in bed) of its foundress, Mrs. Charles Cubitt, after she had been prayed for by her old Italian servant at the famous Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary at Pompeii.
The Foundation-stone of the Penmaenmawr Friary was ‘laid’ on Thursday, October 8th, 1908, by Mrs. Charles Cubitt, T.O.S.F., assisted by her nephew, Mr. Algernon Bowring. The stone was blessed by the Father Provincial, O.F.M. Cap., and a sermon “suitable to the occasion” preached by Father William, O.F.M. Cap..
An interesting feature of the Penmaenmawr mission is in the fact that what is now the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary there was previous to the coming of the friars, a Calvanistic Methodist chapel.
Palm Sunday, April 3rd 1955. Fr. Seraphim, 93 years old (!), told me this morning that the Capuchin Apostolate in South Wales, centred in St. Alban’s Monastery, Pontypool, was abandoned (despite the personal appeal of Bishop Hedley to the Minister-General O.F.M.Cap.) consequent upon the acquiring by the then Minister-Provincial, Father Modestus Henderson, of Archbishop Ullathorne’s large seminary building at Olton, Birmingham, in 1889, for conversion into a Capuchin Franciscan House of Studies. Evidently this Father Modestus (who died in 1931, at the age of 91) believed in large houses, few and stately, rather than in a multiplicity of small friaries and mission-residences – and so Pontypool and its dependancies was sacrificed in favour of Olton … to the great detriment of the Anglo-Cambrian Capuchin Franciscan apostolate. Fr. Seraphim did not hesitate to call the buying of Olton “a great mistake”- and the giving up of Pontypool and the South Wales Missions as “a tragedy” – and I feel sure he is perfectly correct in this verdict. Olton is now occupied by Sacred Heart Fathers (of Betharram)
See also OLTON and FATHER SERAPHIM, O.F.M.Cap.
St. John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth, was completed on Sunday, December 9th, 1906. In one of the two western turrets (designed by Canon Scoles) is placed a peal of 8 hemispherical bells – but I have never had the pleasure of hearing these bells, tho’ I have visited the Cathedral many times).
Another sad example of the ruthless vandalism of George Patrick, Archbishop of Birmingham. Not content with tearing down Pugin’s incomparable Rood Screen in St. Chad’s Cathedral, he now puts on the general market Pugin’s dear little Church of the Most Holy Trinity at Radford, Oxon! Where will it all end?!
Nov. 17, 1951. SS. Gertrude and Hugh (From ‘The Tablet’, Nov. 23, 1872) :-
“St Augustine’s Monastery, Ramsgate. On Thursday 21st, the Rev. Father Swithbert Palmer, O.S.B., and the Rev. F. Aidan McDonald, O.S.B., Monks of the Anglo-Belgian Province of the Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observance, started from St. Augustine’s, Ramsgate, for the Mission of Hong Kong, in China, where a seminary for Europeans and Chinese is to be entrusted to their care.
The Benedictine Missionaries of Hong Kong remain subject to the Abbot Visitor of the Anglo-Belgian province, and the monastic house of the Order, which in due course of time is to be founded there, will belong to the same province.”
(What could have been the fate of this surely premature attempt of Ramsgate at launching out into the deep, I wonder? I fear it came, like so much else, to little or nothing!)
The Turret House, Southcote Road, Reading, was, from 1929 until 1930 (or 1931), a convent of the Benedictine Missionary Sisters (of Tutzing). The Superioress was Frideswide Lane-Fox O.S.B.!
SAINT EBBE’S PRIORY, SHOTOVER
Extract from “Oxford in Brush and Pen”, a most charming and unusual book by Estella Canziani, published in 1949 by Frederick Muller, Ltd., 29 Great James Street, London, W.C.1. :-
“The little chapel of St. Ebbe on the way to Shotover. This site was once the scene of traditional village industries (the village being, of course, Headington Quarry), stone quarrying and brickfields, known as Clayhills, and was bought by the Rev. Dr. J. S. Stansfield, of Oxford, and named St. Ebbe’s (“St Ebbe’s Priory”, to be exact). Then amateurs built a small chapel, and contemporary dwelling houses were put up for families during a housing shortage. While Dr. Stansfield was in Oxford, St. Ebbe’s was the hunting ground of Boy Scouts from crowded parts of Oxford and London.
Tired mothers from the Friars, Oxford, also came for rest. Then later the land was rented by the Birmingham Education Committee as an open air camp school for delicate Birmingham children. The camp girls arranged autumn leaves in pattern on the little window sills, and there were branches of russet beech in jam jars. White and brown chickens pecked about outside; a sparrow came in through a broken window, flew across the dim chapel, its wings catching the sunlight as it fluttered out through the broken glass. I thought of Bede’s sparrow, ‘that flutters hastily through the hall. For that brief space he is sheltered … from the winter he came and to winter he returns forthwith. Thus does man’s life pass for a while before our eyes’.
Outside, at the top of the steep little path leading through the gold green autumn leaves down into a marshy bit of ground were stocks complete with chains. The chapel has a thatch roof. It would be a lovely setting for a nativity Play, with perhaps a criminal released from the stocks gazing in through a dusty window at the Child.”
(1961) Alas, like many another simple, homely, and lovely thing in these truly dreadful days, this little Chapel of St. Ebbe, known so attractively as “St. Ebbe’s Priory”, Shotover, is now completely pulled down and demolished!
SAINT TUDWAL’S ISLAND
From the ‘Tablet’, 22nd Oct., 1887:-
“Three halfpence in the Island. We have received from correspondents the following extracts from letters written by the Rev. Father Hughes, from Saint Tudwal’s Island, North Wales – the first is dated September 21st: ‘Our boat, The Dove, slipped her mooring during the night so far as to get badly stowed against the rocks, and on Sunday, the 18th, we had held work to get her above water and alongside the wharf for repairs. Today the tackle by which she was slung gave way, letting her fall bow on to a rock, so that she stove in her whole bow, and is, I feel, a total wreck. So here we are real ‘Missionary Crusoes’ on an island two miles from Abersoch, and dependent on the charity of those on shore for our communications. Fortunately we just laid in our winter stores of biscuits, pease, rice, coffee, oatmeal, etc., so that we shall not starve. Our gardens yield well, but our net cannot be used without the boat. What are we going to do I don’t know just yet, but St. Joseph will probably get us another boat before long, and all will be right.
Meantime my lads are rigging a derrick and trying to hoist the wrecked boat on to the wharf, to see if it will be possible to repair her. Money is scarce; we have 1 ½ d, on the island, but even that cannot be spent here, as there is no shop next door. We are going on as usual, trying to repair damages, but leaving the rest to Providence, who has never failed us yet. The two postulants are fine fellows: one is a decent cook, and the other a musician who will play our harmonium when we get one. Unfortunately, neither of them is Welsh, nor very likely to learn Welsh; but they are just the men to help us now with our pioneering. I received one into the Church on Sunday; he is 27 and has had a good education. He is from London and belonged to a Ritualist congregation, so that he had lots of Catholic doctrine, only he had it all wrong and foremost (?) and had to straighten it out.
The other postulant is a clever, wild fellow of 20, from Wiltshire, who has been all sorts of things but seems pious and earnest enough now, and is a famous worker. My carpenter and right-hand man, Archie MacFarlane, has one hand bound up in a poultice, and can only work with the other; so our young friend from Wiltshire is invaluable just now, heaving and hauling and doing his best to help. We have the turf chapel roofed and floored, and probably would have had it ready for next Sunday but for the accident to the boat. One of my Welsh workmen came over to us from shore yesterday, and offered to stay with us on the island through the winter. On his offer being accepted he told us he also wanted to be received into the Church, for which he had been preparing himself for some time. He is a married man and has a large family, who he thinks, will follow his example. So the very thing that seemed to cut us off from the mission, has been the cause of one soul at least being joined to the true faith.’
Father Henry Bailey Mary Hughes, Missionary Apostolic, Tertiary of St. Dominic, Founder of a Community of Dominican Third Order Priests and Brothers for the Conversion of Wales on St. Tudwal’s Island, off Abersoch, in the Lleyn peninsula, Caernarvonshire, North Wales, was born at Caernarvon, A.D. 1833; received into the Church, A.D. 1850, and died (in something very close to the ‘odour of sanctity’) at Abersoch, December 16th, 1887. He was buried at Llanengan – where is grave is pointed out as that of a ‘saint’. His Community, unhappily, did not survive his death. May it one day rise again! Jesus, convert Wales! Jesus, bring back the Welsh to the Old Faith. Amen!
The letter from which the following extract is made is dated October 12th, 1887 :-
“… We had three stormy nights this week. Monday the roof was nearly blown off my hut, and Archie had to leap out, and with a yell like a Comanche (?), to lay weights on the plates and keep them from flying off.
Tuesday the rain made its way through, and we had both to jump up and shift our beds to another side of the hut, where we passed a most uncomfortable night; but yesterday we made a few alterations which left the roof watertight, and now we are as comfortable as Australian diggers. We don’t expect to be more so; we are pioneers, and must expect pioneers’ lodgings and rations, and laugh at little discomforts. You cannot break up new lands in kid gloves, nor use silver trowels to found monasteries.
One sheep rushed into the cells for shelter last night, to the great amusement of the young men; we haven’t mounted doors, as yet, only sacks and bits of old canvas across the openings. But before winter we shall have hatches fitted and shall be as warm as we wish. There is snow on the mainland, every mountain has been covered with it for two or three days (it was on Snowdon on Monday last); so winter is showing his nose rather early this year, and beginning with storms. But my young men are full of spirits and laugh at everything; so we will hold the fort, please God, and our friends seem anxious to help us.”
Alas just over 2 months after writing this letter Fr. Hughes was dead. R.I.P.
“The Tablet”, July 2nd, 1864 :-
“The convent of Sclerder, Cornwall, from which the Franciscan Fathers lately departed for Manchester (St. Francis’, Gorton), will henceforth be tenanted by a branch of the Theresians, from the Convent of Lanherne, farther west – Rev. C. McDermott, Chaplain to the new convent. Thus does this celebrated and self-denying Order strike its roots more firmly into the flinty heart of old Cornubia (!).”
So far as regards Sclerder, the Lanherne Theresians soon uprooted themselves from the ‘flinty heart of old Cornubia’ … in 1871 the Sclerder Community transferred itself to Plymouth, and in 1875 to Wells, Somerset (where it still happily remains).
Item appearing in the ‘Obituary’ section of “Franciscan Annals”, July – August 1944 :-
Mother Abbess Clare of the Passion (Amy Elizabeth Rosalie Imrie). The foundress and first Abbess of Sclerder Abbey in Cornwall.
An advertisement appearing in ‘The Tablet’, April 3, 1886 :-
Restoration of the Order of St. Gilbert, or Canons Regular of Our Lady of Sempringham. Wanted a priest who, having the work of England’s conversion at heart, would devote himself to this work. Address: Rev. Father Ethelbert, St. Gilbert’s Residence, Trowbridge, Wiltshire.
“Rev. Father Ethelbert” was none other than Fr. Arnold Jerome Mathew, later Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew, of the “Old Roman Catholic Church”.
FATHER SERAPHIM, O.F.M.Cap.
The ‘English Province of the Capuchins’ was formally founded in 1873. Seven years before this a noviciate had been established at Pantasaph, N. Wales, and among those who entered it during the first decade of its existence was a youth from London called Walter Hanniball. He was only in his sixteenth year when on November 7th, 1878, he received the habit of a Capuchin novice and was given the name of Br. Seraphim. (He was thus wearing the habit of St. Francis several months before – nearly a year in fact – Robert Francis Kilvert died! It seems almost unbelievable.)
Fr. Seraphim (Walter Hanniball), O.F.M.Cap., made his Solemn Profession at St. Anthony’s, Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, London, on Nov. 10th, 1882. He is still living – at the Friary, Chester … I spoke with him this very day (April 11th, 1955)
Fr. Seraphim has now (1961) been dead some few years R.I.P. He was indeed the ‘Patriarch’ of the English Capuchins – having worn the habit almost 80 years!
See also PONTYPOOL, OLTON
Belmont House, Shaftesbury, was too, is now, I believe, an hotel … having been, in its time the home of, firstly, the “Oblates of the Sacred Heart”, and secondly, the Sons of Mary Immaculate.
These last, happily, in the single person of Fr. E. Jeanneau, F.M.I., still retain a footing in the town – having the charge of the Catholic Parish of Shaftesbury, with its lovely church of the Most Holy Name and St. Edward the Martyr … but there is no community, and Belmont House has gone.
1897 Catholic Directory: Shaftesbury, Dorset. The Sacred Heart, Belmont House, Rev.Louis Felon, etc. – Oblates of the Sacred Heart.
From 1906 until 1908 there was in Shaftesbury a Convent of “Filles de Jesus” at Iona House, Victoria Street.
See also MARNHULL
Could this little church (long since replaced by a more permanent structure) possibly have been the original Shanklin Catholic Church taken down and re-erected at East Cowes?
This was the scene of the horrific murder of my fellow school companion of Mount St. Mary’s and Osterley days, the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, Father Anthony Crean (R.I.P.) in 1975. It was at that time a Convent of the Corpus Christi Carmelite Sisters.
Spetisbury has had Canonesses Regular of the Lateran, Bridgettine Nuns of the Most Holy Saviour, Canons Regular of the Lateran, and Ursuline Nuns. Now the former conventual buildings, except one insignificant corner of them, are razed to the ground, the Church is a “Badminton Court”, the cemetery, a forlorn tangle of weeds and rank growth!
1897 Catholic Directory: St. Norbert’s Home School for Young Gentlemen. Under the direction of the Canons Regular of the Lateran – also Preparatory College for the Order. Address: The President, Very Rev. A. Allaria, D.D., St. Monica’s Priory, Spetisbury, Dorset. Or the Rev. Principal, Ambleside, Westmoreland. (The only priest listed under Ambleside at this time is the ‘Rev. Dustan Sellon O.C.R.P. – I believe it must have been just at this time that Fr. Sellon was changing from the Canons of Premontre to those of the Lateran).
The Storrington Premonstratensians (in those days, of course, of what was known as ‘the Frigolet Reform’), as we learn from the ‘Tablet’, set up a chocolate factory (!) within the precincts of their Priory in August, 1892, in order to “give employment to those converts who are discharged by their rich, bigoted employers on their embracing our holy faith”.
A pious hope was also expressed that “the factory will contribute to the support of the church and poor schools of the struggling mission”. One wonders what was the subsequent history and ultimate fate of their Norbertine Chocolate Factory! I fear its life was not a long one… such very French methods do not commend themselves overmuch to us in England.
This is more or less how Swanage looked inside when it was first opened in 1904. A new chancel and High Altar were happily erected by Dom Philip Corr, C.R.L., circa 1930.
SWINDLESHAM HOUSE, BERKS
From ‘The Universe’, Feb 18th, 1949:
“Swindlesham House, Berks, between Reading and Wokingham, formerly a hostel for Miles Aircraft apprentices, is to become St. Mary’s College for boys wishing to be priests of the Society of the divine Saviour. The boys will be aged between 13 and 17. The new college allows for a considerable increase in the number of students. Fr. Richard Dunne, S.D.S., is the superior.
The college is a late Georgian country house completely modernised. There are about 40 acres of grounds. To the left of the entrance hall is the chapel, with three altars, two of them temporary.
The Salvatorian Fathers have the permanent and sole custody of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in St. Peter’s, Rome. They also have the care of St. Peter’s baptistry. The Society, founded in Rome in 1881 by the Ven. Francis Jordan, has several houses in Britain. Rhe British Province was formed in 1947. It consists of between 40 and 50 English and Irish priests.”
‘The Tablet’, Nov. 23rd, 1872 :-
“Consecration of Altar and opening of the new chapel of the Sisters of the B. Sacrament, Taunton. The new and handsome altar of the Convent Chapel, designed by John T. Bentley, Esq., Architect, and destined for the distinctive work of the Order, that of Perpetual Adoration of the B. Sacrament, was solemnly consecrated on the 13th inst., by the Bishop of Clifton, assisted by the Very Revv. Canon Neve and Graham, and the Revv. Hon. E. Arundel, J. Bouvier (M.S.F.S.), A. Russell and A. Frutel.
The Order of the Sisters of the B. Sacrament, or Sacramentines, was founded about the middle of the 17th century, by the Ven. Pere Antoine Lequieu, O.S.D. (i.e. O.P.), for the express puropose of Perpetual Adoration of the B. Sacrament, and is therefore one of the oldest existing communities founded for this distinct work. Towards the end of the same century it received the approbation of Innocent XI, and afterwards of Innocent XII.
The present community is a branch from one of the oldest houses of the Order existing at Bollene (Vaucluse), which had the honour in the great French Revolution of seeing 13 of its number expire on the guillotine for their fidelity to the vows of their religious profession.
This branch of the Order came over to England in 1863, and its members were hospitably lodged by Lord Clifford of Chudleigh at Court House, Cannington, till 1867, when they were enabled to settle in Taunton, without, however, until now, being able to build the chapel and other necessary additions to their house.
The building now erected, consisting of refectory, parlours, sacristies, sanctuary, men’s choir (???) and an outer chapel for extern adorers, was designed by Mr. Bentley, of John Street, Adelphi, and built under his superintendence; the whole of the outside is faced with stone taken from the ruined tower of one of the old Catholic churches of the town of Taunton, which adds greatly to the interest of the picturesque additions to the convent. The altar and sanctuary of the new chapel are of very handsome detail, all referring to the one idea of Perpetual Adoration.
The altar is principally of alabaster, relieved by various marbles, mosaics, gilding and paintings (not yet finished). The tabernacle and throne are extremely beautiful and very delicately worked out. We understand that there is an Association of Perpetual Adoration for Externs connected with the Order, with many indulgences.
Particulars can be obtained by reference to the Convent of Perpetual Adoration, Taunton.”
(It is sad indeed to recall that in 1926 or 1927 or 1928 the Community of Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at Taunton was disbanded, and the chapel and convent are now used as offices of some sort or other! The furnishings of the chapel have found homes in other churches and convents. I served Mass and Benediction here in August, 1925.)
Further notes about the Sacramentines from the Late Sister Francis Agnes Onslow of the Convent of the Poor Clares, Woodchester, and formerly of the Franciscan Convent, Taunton :-
Sacramentines – It was 2 who came to this Community, not 3 as I said. I will copy the history bits from their notices in the Necrology here.
Sister M. Josephine Howe died 1962 after 69 years in religion (aged 93 having spent more than 30 years with us) “having been professed in the Convent of the Sacramentines, Taunton, which was closed by the decision of the Holy See”. (the years mentioned above put the end of the Convent there in roughly 1932) Affectionate notice about her note “more than”…
Sister M. Berchmans Armstead died 1935 in the the 84th year of age and 65th in religion. She spent 6 years with us (which puts closure about 1929) – “spent 59 years in a Convent of Perpetual Adoration at Taunton where she had been an Extern Sister. This Convent being very poor and getting few new members, was closed by our late revered Bishop, Dr. Burton, on 24th May 1929 – Each Sister was granted by the Holy See full liberty to choose …so Sister M. Gertrude, as she was called at Taunton, came to us!! (There was already a SMG here so she chose Berchmans). “She was much respected and loved at Taunton (Franciscan Convent) owing to her office of Guesting for the Convent there…” There follows an affectionate appreciation of her here.
(I said to you, wrongly, that Bishop Lee finished them, but I think he did do a lot of business under Bishop Burton and took trouble over the re-burials, I think this was mentioned more than once with gratitude.
Mary Graham came to our school (at Taunton) in 1852. A note says that she became a Sacramentine and died in 1928. I think she was spoken of in my time (I was at school till 1926 and entered 1931) as the Superior which would look as if the closure was in the year after her death.
I think the picture of the Sacramentine garden etc. is in another album in M. Abbess’s room. You shall see it when you can come again (see photocopied watercolour above).
The Sacred Heart and Our Lady, Maryvale, Berrington Road, Tenbury Wells, was opened (largely through the energies and enterprise of Instructor-Captain and Mrs. G. C. Avery) on Sunday, August 6th, 1939.
‘The Tablet’, Feb. 17, 1894, Church of the Holy Rood and St. Teilo, Tenby.
“… that Saint (i.e. St. Gilbert of Sempringham) being the founder of the only religious Order of purely English growth, which Order Father Vincent Bull, the priest of the mission, has been quietly endeavouring for some years to revive, and he has so far succeeded in this great work that a monastery is in course of erection …”
‘The Tablet’, May 26, 1894, Church of the Holy Rood and St. Teilo, Tenby
“… It is in this mission that the Order of St. Gilbert of Sempringham has been revived. In April last Father Gilbert Vincent Bull laid the foundation-stone of the new monastery and now the first portion of the handsome buildings (from the designs by Mr. F. Walters, F.S.G.) begins to show itself. The Community hope to take possession of this first portion of their house (which consists of the guest house and west cloister) in September next.
‘The Tablet’, Oct. 20, 1894, Tenby: The Bishop’s visit.
“On Monday, the 8th inst., the Bishop (John Cuthbert Hedley, I imagine) paid a visit to this mission. On Tuesday his lordship held an ordination in the Church of the Holy Rood and St. Teilo, when the tonsure and the four Minor Orders were conferred on Brother Bernard Le Verrier (for the Gilbertine Order, which is being revived in this mission). On Friday, after inspecting the buildings of the Gilbertine Monastery, now in course of erection, his lordship left Tenby for Cardiff.
Bro. Bernard Le Verrier later, I think, became a Dominican – and was known as Father Raymond Le Verrier, O.P.
In 1906, Fr. Gilbert Vincent Bull was at Louth, Lincolnshire (St. Gilbert’s own country), and was engaged on building a church and house (for the Gilbertine Community?) at Mablethorpe.
1897 Catholic Directory: Holyrood and St. Teilo. 1893. Rev. George H. Vincent Bull. Holyrood school for the Sons of Gentlemen. St. mildred’s Benedictine Convent and High School for Girls (no mention at all of the Gilbertine revival)
The Capuchin Franciscans took over the cure of souls in the parish of Thirsk, Yorks, in the year 1923. They have now (1961) retired from Thirsk.
Fr. George Bampfield, founder of the Institute of St. Andrew (Barnet Fathers), was an ‘old boy’ of Tonbridge School – as also was another notable Victorian convert to Catholicism, Father Bridgett, C.SS.R.. Fr. Bampfield was Head Boy of the school. He took a First in Classics at Oxford. As a schoolboy, Fr. Bampfield had an eye damaged by a cracker at Tonbridge Fair – and ever after suffered from great weakness of eyesight. It was said of him by the C. of E. Revd Alexander Hore, a contemporary of his at Tonbridge, that “he had everything before him if he had remained in the Church of England, and he sacrificed all to his conscience. Of that there can be no doubt.”
BISHOP ELZEAR TORREGIANI
Bishop Elzear Torregiani, O.F.M.Cap., founded the Catholic missions at Mold, Holyhead, Chester (St. Francis), Flint (tho’ here there was already a chapel built by Fr. Blackett, S.J.), Abersychen, Blaenavon, Cwmbran, Risca, Blackwood (Mon.) and Abertillery.
The great Bishop Elzear Torregiani, O.F.M.Cap., was at Pontypool (St. Alban’s Monastery – now just plain St. Alban’s presbytery) from 1860 until he became Guardian at Peckham in 1876. He was consecrated Bishop of Armidale, Australia, at Peckham. March 25th, 1879.
St Anthony’s Dulwich, London, was founded by the Capuchin Franciscans of Peckham in 1879 – the newly-consecrated (at Peckham) Bishop of Armidale, Australia, Dr. Elzear Torregiani, O.F.M.Cap., pontificated at the opening of the first little chapel.
Meresborough House, Rainham, Kent, was the first establishment of the Companions of St. Martin de Porres (1961-1962) before the Community moved to Weston Manor, Totland, in May 1962.
The Christus Salvator Monastery at Turvey, Bedfordshire (Olivetan Benedictine monks and nuns). Donald visited the community on 5th May 1982 and wrote later, ‘yesterday I met Prior Edward Mary Jones for the first time. D.G. – a most truly happy and blessed experience’.
Taken from ‘The Tablet’, July 12th, 1902 :-
“The Alexian Brothers at Ealing. – The Cellist or Alexian Brothers have lately acquired Mr. Allhusen’s country house, called Twyford Abbey, near Ealing, as a new house of their Order, which will serve as a convalescent hospital for patients, and a place of retreat for elderly gentlemen. The abbey stands in a well-wooded park of 18 acres.
The Order of the Cellite Brothers dates from the Middle Ages. It counts numerous houses on the Continent, and Twyford Abbey is the fourth house of the Order in England (the others being at that time St. Joseph’s, Moston, Manchester; St. Mary’s, Newton Heath, Manchester; and the Sacred Heart, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough – this last long since closed). The Brothers took possession of Twyford Abbey a few months ago.
A chapel has been fitted up which on July 2nd was blessed and the first Mass was offered up and a short sermon preached by the Right Rev. Abbot Geudens, of Corpus Christi Priory, Manchester, who is the ordinary confessor of the Brothers in their two houses in Manchester.”
Nov. 27, 1951. From ‘The Tablet’, August 30, 1902 :-
“Twyford Abbey, Ealing, W. On Friday last, the Octave of the Feast of the Assumption, the solemn blessing and erection of the Stations of the Cross took place in the neat oratory that has been prepared and blessed for the use of the Alexian Brothers and their inmates in the Abbey.
In the fine abbey house itself surrounded by beautiful grounds, the Brothers are proceeding with fitting up the rooms for the reception of aged infirm gentlemen, who will be under the care of the Brothers.”
“Greyfriars”, Walsingham, with its lovely Chapel of St. Aelred, was set up as a Capuchin Franciscan house, at the invitation of dear Bishop Youens, of Northampton (R.I.P.), on November 26th 1937. The Capuchins left Walsingham, unhappily, in 1948 or 1949, I think.
St Michael’s Passionist Church and Retreat at Wareham, Dorset, was founded in 1888. The ‘Tablet’ of May 19th, 1888, records that “the beautiful house and grounds at Westport, Wareham, formerly occupied by Mr. Hutchings, solicitor” were blessed and opened on May 8, 1888, as St. Michael’s Passionist Retreat. The house was given to the “Cross and Passionate” (sic!) Fathers by a lady benefactress, I believe. The dedication to St. Michael is interesting … could it be that in this new foundation in Dorset the Passionists were seeking to keep fresh the memory of their first historic monastery in England – St. Michael’s Retreat, Aston-by-Stone, Staffordshire – so inexplicably given up not long after the death of its saintly founder and first superior, the Venerable Father Dominic of the Mother of God (Barberi)?
Or could it perhaps be that the lady behind this Wareham foundation was an admirer or “spiritual child” of the famous Fr. Michael Watts-Russell, C.P., and wished to honour his Patron in the church and monastery she was giving to God and the Passionist Congregation?
The foundation-stone of the church attached to this Retreat was laid by the Duke of Norfolk on April 29th, 1889.
Unfortunately, however, St. Michael’s Retreat, Wareham, was destined for the same fate as St. Michael’s Retreat, Aston-by-Stone … it was given up altogether in 1901, and from then until 1907 the church was ‘served’ from various nearby places – Lulworth, for instance … but mostly from Swanage by the Canons Regular of the Lateran.
In 1907 this Gothic stone church was taken down and removed from Wareham to Dorchester – where it was re-erected as the Catholic Church of Dorsetshire’s county town, being dedicated anew … this time under the invocation of “Our Lady Queen of Martyrs and St. Michael” (“Our Lady of the Martyrs” was the title of the original little post-reformation Catholic Church in Dorchester, founded from St. Augustine’s, Weymouth, circa 1867).
Why the Passionists abandoned poor little Wareham I just cannot imagine. Apparently it was left, from the Catholic point of view, churchless from 1907 until 1933 when the little church of St. Edward the Martyr was opened (remarkable only by reason of its truly wonderful tabernacle upon the High Altar – a veritable gothic ‘sacrament-House’, quite unusual in so small and poor a church).
It is interesting to note that Fr. Christopher Heron, C.P., was stationed at St. Michael’s Retreat, Wareham, Dorset. This must have been his last or almost his last, Passionist appointment – for soon after its closure as a Passionist house, he became a secular priest in the Birmingham diocese, and, in 1924, was parish priest of St. Mary Immaculate, Bicester, Oxon (on the point – 1961 – of being replaced by a much needed new church). I feel that, while at Bicester, he had a reputation for (let us hope, mild, and harmless, and not too frequent) drunkenness (!) … and I, as a Catholic boy of that time in the overwhelmingly non-Catholic “City of Oxford High School for Boys”, had much to put up with on his account from boys attending the school from Bicester and neighbourhood! May he rest in peace. Amen.
“The Mansion” (or “Yend House”), East Street, Warminster, Wiltshire – residence of Mr. John Edmund Halliday (who died in 1913 at the age of 74), of the “Warminster Pew Case”. From about 1907 until 1919 “The Mansion” was rented by an exiled community of Ursuline nuns, from Ploenmel in Brittany, was St. George’s Convent and school. Its chapel was Warminster’s first post-reformation Catholic church.
The altar from the Ursuline Convent Chapel at Warminster was re-erected in St. George’s Catholic Church, Warminster, when it was built and opened in 1922.
Nov. 14, 1951. From ‘The Tablet’. Aug. 3rd, 1872 :-
“Church of Our Lady of Seven Dolours, West Brompton. Four novices of the Order of Servites, received the habit in this church on the Feast of St. James. Though the Order was founded in the 13th century, it was only in 1867 that it was guided to these islands (D. David Knowles is of the opinion that the Friars Servants of Mary had at least one house in this country in pre-‘reformation’ days), and the convent at West Brompton is the first and only one for men in the United Kingdom. Including the Very Rev. Prior Father Bosio, who presided, there were counted, after the clothing, 13 in the choir wearing the habit, of whom three were choir novices, one lay-brother novice, two lay tertiaries, one lay-brother, and seven monks (sic!) in holy orders.”
The Picputian Convent at Weymouth was founded on March 25, 1898, from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, by Mother Mary Agnes, SS.CC., and seven other sisters. The new High School building (frankly hideous, in my opinion) was opened in 1909.
Weymouth was not an offshoot from Trowbridge, but the complete transference of the Trowbridge community to Weymouth.
As the Trowbridge Picputian foundation was not begun until 1896, it could have had an existence of but little over a year’s duration. It was called “St. John’s Convent” while at Trowbridge, and was situated in Wingfield Road – where also is St. John the Baptist’s Catholic Church, and, since 1927, the Convent of the Sisters of St. John of God.
From the (London) “Times”, July 5th, 1955 (a Tuesday)
Miss O.K. Parr. “Beatrice Chase”, of Dartmoor. Miss Olive Katherine Parr, who under the name of Beatrice Chase wrote many novels as well as religious books, died late on Sunday night in hospital at Newton Abbot, Devon. She would have been 81 to-day. Born in 1874 at Harrow-on-the-Hill, the eldest child of Mr. Charles Parr, she was educated at the Convent of the Holy Child in Cavendish Square, and from her earliest youth took a lively and practical interest in all things appertaining to the roman Catholic Church. With the enthusiasm that never failed her she organized the Catholic Children’s Crusade for Cardinal Vaughan.
But it was at her home on Dartmoor, Venton House, Widicombe-in-the-Moor, where she settled 53 years ago, that she found the best outlet for her energy. There she wrote her books, tended her garden, befriended the whole neighbourhood, and studied the people of Dartmoor. Her books, a combination of religion and sentiment, became very popular, especially during the 1914-18war, when the late John Oxenham wrote an account of her, calling it ‘My Lady of the Moors’.
In this book he described Beatrice Chase for her readers, and the result was an almost embarrassing popularity for her. Admirers went to Venton House in such numbers that she was obliged to hang forbidding notices on her gate refusing to see anyone except by appointment. Among her best known books are ‘Through a Dartmoor window’, a description of Dartmoor combining local characterization with a strong religious element, ‘My Heaven in Devon’, a description of Dartmoor delights and beauties, ‘Pages of Peace from Dartmoor’, a blend of romance and mysticism, ‘The Twelfth Amethyst’, ‘White Knights on Dartmoor’, and ‘Completed Tales by My Knights and Ladies’. She wrote almost to the end, ‘The Dartmoor Window – Forty Years After’ being published in 1948, and ‘Dartmoor the Beloved’ being published in 1951.
Beatrice Chase was the organizer of the Crusade for Chastity in which many influential people were interested, and at Venton House she had a chapel with full privileges (but, as regards “privileges”, only from 1910 until 1929) where she and her household worshipped.
To some she appeared slightly imperious, even awe-inspiring, but others found her easy of approach and a sympathetic companion.
The death in action in the earliest part of the War of the man to whom she was engaged was a shock from which she did not really recover. Thenceforth she devoted herself entirely to her work, which became her great interest and consolation. For the fastidious her writing is too luscious and extravagant, but it appealed to a large majority that regarded her as the apostle of beauty and purity. Perhaps the secret of the popularity she undoubtedly had at one time lay in the fact that she believed almost passionately in herself and in her work, a belief supported by the large and steady sale of her books, and by the stream of admirers who went to Dartmoor every year in ever increasing numbers. Having lived on Dartmoor so long she was passionately keen on its preservation, though opposed to the National Parks scheme.
The continued use of the moor for military training found in her a doughty opponent and she used every means in her power to cajole and persuade the authorities to confine their training areas to those parts that had been used before 1939.
She had lived alone in her isolated (?) house for a number of years and some 12 months ago it was necessary to remove her to hospital under the terms of the National Assistance Act as a person in need of care and attention. She had been a voluntary patient since that time.”
From the ‘Times’, December 12th, 1955 :-
“Wills and Bequests. Miss Olive Katherine Parr – Beatrice Chase – of Widicombe-in-the-Moor, Devon, left £3,631 (net value £2,019). She desired to be buried in a field known as Hermitage Platt, Venton, clothed in her Dominican Tertiary habit, without a coffin “and please leave the graves of the three little cats undisturbed under the big stones at my feet”. She left all her copyrights in books and films and interest in copyright in books and films, mss., papers, royalties, including royalties from plays or films and literary property of every kind, including her autobiography, to the R.S.P.C.C., and all household effects not otherwise disposed of, and three freehold cottages, subject to a mortgage, to the R.S.P.C.C..
Dom John Stephan, of Buckfast Abbey, said on Saturday that Miss Chase’s executors had decided that her wish to be buried in a field could not be fulfilled, and she was buried in a coffin, wearing her tertiary habit, in the churchyard of Widicombe-in-the-Moor. Her grave was next to that of her mother. R.I.P.”
I only saw Beatrice Chase once – in the August or early September of 1928 when I visited, in company with my late Aunt Grace, of Plymouth. Her chapel (called ‘The House of Bread’) at Venton (still then, in full working order, as her upset with the late Abbot Vonier , of Buckfast, had not at that time quite reached the unhappy climax which resulted in the withdrawal of “full privileges”). May she rest in peace.
July 11th, 2000. Venton House, near Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Devon, was for many years the residence of the fervent Dominican tertiary the late Beatrice Chase who maintained there a delightful little chapel which she called “The House of Bread” (Bethlehem I suppose). All went well for several years under the wing of Abbot Vonier of Buckfast (The Blessed Sacrament reserved and Mass every Sunday and Holy Day provided by the Abbey). As might have been expected with such a rather eccentric lady and a strong character such as Abbot Vonier, difficulties arose which put an end to the relationship and Venton no longer appeared in the “Catholic Directory”. Miss Chase, alias Olive Katherine Parr, developed some rather far-fetched devotions which attracted some people to her chapel and Abbot Vonier wanted her to stop this. But she would not do so. She wrote a number of semi-devotional books, too, which did not obtain the approval of Abbot Vonier. She had a sort of confraternity of White Knights for men which involved a rather too high (almost impossible standard of “Holy Purity” which I am sure few men could ever hope to attain. She was not very realistic in this particular matter. I think, with her death all this came to an end of course . but even before that took place the whole thing was definitely on the wane. It could not last.
I used to have at least one of her books. I remember – but I must have given it away years ago. I visited her house and chapel in 1928 and briefly met her – but even then, I think, the chapel (tho’ open) was under Abbot Vonier’s “interdict” (altho’ the red lamp still burned before the altar). some devoted followers referred to her as “My Lady of the Moor”.
Compared with what goes on in certain religious (even Catholic) circles today what she was judged guilty of was nothing very outrageous.- certainly nothing that would really merit the condemnation that fell to her lot . Memory should be kind to her.
St Richard’s Wiveliscombe. Mass was celebrated in this building during the war and Father Edward Anderson was the priest then. The building was a work place for women machinists, and they occupied the bottom floor. The chapel was above, and, during the genuflection at the Credo, the floor literally sagged, partly because the Mass was also attended by several P.O.W.s from Germany. The P.O.W.s moved the chapel downstairs for the next Sunday and they lined the walls with sacking from sacks which they dyed dark red. . Soon after this the P.O.W.s returned home to Germany.
To be continued…