Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.

I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop...
It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Portuguese Monarchists waving the flag

 The pre-1910 flag of the Kingdom of Portugal


The Special Correspondent has sent me this link to a Twitter post about a demonstration by Portuguese monarchists in Lisbon yesterday: https://twitter.com/ZsuzsannaKun/status/741663202887520260


The Arms of the Kings of Portugal


Thursday, 9 June 2016

The medieval Palace of Westminster

Looking for pictures of Westminster abbey I found these two reconstructions of the medieval palace of Westminster and thought I would post them as well. Both attempt to show Westminster at the beginning of the sixteenth century.


Image: geni.com


Image: geni.com


Oratory Pilgrimage to Westminster Abbey

Yesterday I joined a group from the Oxford Oratory on a pilgrimage to Westminster Abbey. There we had the privilege of celebrating Mass at the tomb of St Edward the Confessor. Fr Daniel, the Provost was celebrant, and it was a remarkable experience kneeling surrounded by so many English monarchs - English Catholic monarchs - at the shrine of St Edward and so close to the site of the coronation ceremonies

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I can be seen here centre right- when I knelt down I was at the side of the tomb of King Richard II who died in my home town at the castle and whose story influenced my choice of later medieval history as a particular academic interest. There were certainly souls to call to mind to pray for.

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Having seen the thre-part series on the life of the abbey on television the other year and the work of the Dean to present the complex to the public I was interested to see how much the interior has improved in terms of access and visibility from previous visits twent odd years ago. Although the abbey was very busy the crowds flowed rather than stagnated and you were not sent round in on elong column the visitor has time to look and reflect on the vast number of things to see and appreciate. You get much more out of your visit I think than you used to and the whole building looks cleaner and better  kept - it did not necessarily do so in the late 1980s and early 1990s. If you have not been for awhile do go and look, and even if you do know the abbey well, go and look again - it is a constant revelation of past art and achievements.

We lunched in the excellent new restaurant anmd after time to look around the cloisters and Chapter House - again more accessible than previously - and, dodging a cloudburst, rejoined our coach in Broad Sanctuary. 

In the afternoon we went to Westminster Cathedral, where we were able to process through the Holy Jubilee Door of Mercy. If the calligraphy looks familiar, it is because, like our own Holy Door, it has been painted by Mrs Freddie Quartley, who is an Oratory parishioner:

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Images: Oxford Oratory website
We concluded the afternoon by saying Vespers in the cathedral Lady Chapel.

This was a splendid day out both as apilgrimage and as an opportunity to see Westminster Abbey - there is so much of our national history there that it can at times almost overwhelm, yet still remains surprisingly intimate.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Victoria Woodhull

As Mrs Clinton emerges as the candidate of the Democrats in the US for the forthcoming Presidential Election it is worth noting that she will not be the first woman to run for that office. That distinction belongs to Victoria Woodhull Martin (1838 -1927) who stood as a candidate in the elections of  1872 - when women did not have the vote, and when she was technically inelligible by reason of her age. There is an online life of her at Victoria Woodhull.

There are other pieces about her at The Strange Tale of the First Woman to Run for President
and at  Notorious Victoria: the first woman to run for president

Victoria Woodhull's life is, as readers will discover upon looking at the biographies, one that does make it look as if Hillary Clinton herself had stayed home and baked cookies.

Victoria Woodhull Martin is not, however, buried in the USA but died in England. Her ashes were scattered in the English Channel after her death at Bredon's Norton in Worcestershire. Nearby in Tewkesbury Abbey there is a wall plaque to her memory which records her work promoting the  "great cause " of Anglo-American friendship under the representation of the crossed flags of the two countries, but does not record her claim to fame as the first female US Presidential candidate.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Restoring the Tomb of Christ

The Daily Telegraph reports that a team of experts began a historic renovation on Monday at the spot where Christians believe Jesus was buried, overcoming longstanding religious rivalries to carry out the first repairs at the site in more than 200 years. Read the full story

The Loch Ness Monster - by Royal Appointment?

The Daily Telegraph had an interesting little story the other day as to how the Loch Ness Monster was nearly named after The Queen.

According to a new book scientists wanted to name the Monster after The Queen to aid its survival as an endagered species but she politely declined, warning the choice would be ‘most regrettable’ if Nessie turned out to be a hoax. The somewhat eccesntric story can be read here.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Oxford Corpus Christi Procession

Here from the Oxford Oratory website are pictures of last Sunday's Corpus Christi Procession.

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On Sunday 29th May, Bishop Robert Byrne, Cong. Orat. led the Oxford Deanery Corpus Christi Procession.

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The marshals are briefed before departure:

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The Blessed Sacrament leaves the Oratory:

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The Procession heads down St Giles':

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The Witney Town Band played stirring tunes and hymns to help us on our way:

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Arrival at Blackfriars:

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Fr Robert Ombres, O.P. preached about the altar at Blackfriars, made from Rouge Languedoc marble: a reminder that St Dominic combatted the Cathars, who denied the goodness of creation. In the Blessed Sacrament, God comes to sanctify and deify the flesh.

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From Blackfriars, Fr Ombres carried Our Lord into the Cornmarket and through the busy shopping streets of Oxford:

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Fr Keith McMillan, S.J. carried the Blessed Sacrament for the final stage of the procession:

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Bishop Byrne gave Benediction at the Chaplaincy, accompanied by the band...

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…and Fr Dominic on the organ:

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After which, we had a very welcome cup of tea, courtesy of the Chaplaincy:

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Photographs by Hannah Chegwyn/Oxford Oratory website