Alfred Hope Patten

Hope Patten’s Coat of Arms

It is arguable that the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham would not exist as it currently does (at least not by name, and would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?), were it not for the life’s work of Alfred Hope Patten. His tireless work to build up pilgrimage to Walsingham has had a profound effect on both Anglican & Catholic Communions.

Alfred Hope Patten was born on the 17th November, 1885 in Sidmouth. He was something of a sickly child, and education was constantly interrupted by illness of one form or another, particularly at times of stress, such as examinations. The family also moved about a great deal, until ending up in Brighton (Hove actually) at the turn of the century, when Alfred Hope Patten discovered Anglo-Catholicism at St. Michael’s, Brighton, and he took to it like a duck to water, engaging in many and various Devotions, as well as the most severe fasts. As he got older he made visits to Belgium, and there saw continental devotion being lived at its fullest, without the fetters of anti-Clericalism and Freemasonry.

Patten also felt at this time a draw towards the Religious Life, but attempts to join already established communities did not work out, and eventually in 1911 he went to Lichfield Theological College to study for Ministry in the Church of England. However, come final examinations he had another illness and could not sit them. However, the Bishop of London took pity and ordained him deacon, to serve Holy Cross Cromer Street, under Fr Francis Baverstock, who first planted in the young Rev’d Patten’s mind the idea of restoring pilgrimage to Walsingham. He is buried near Hope Patten in the churchyard at Walsingham.

This idea of restoration of the Cult of Walsingham was further enhanced by Hope Patten’s second curacy, St. Mary, Buxted, Surrey. Here there was to be found a replica of the Holy House of Nazareth, built by Fr. A. D. Wagner, builder of so many of the Brighton “Shrine” churches. His Anglo-Papalist leanings were fully confirmed when as curate to W. Robert Corbould, at Good Shepherd, Carshalton Beeches.

The original shrine in the parish church at Walsingham

His curacies stood him in good stead as a solid Anglo-Catholic party man, and in 1921 his chance came to take up the living of Great & Little Walsingham, with Houghton St. Giles. In 1922 he installed an image of Our Lady of Walsingham (based on the mediaeval seal of the shrine) in the Guilds Chapel (in the North aisle of the church), and in 1923 the first (deeply unsuccessful in terms of numbers) public pilgrimage came to Walsingham; this also coincided with the establishment of the Guild of Our Lady of Walsingham, locals who were willing to help with pilgrimages, particularly in terms of accommodation. Hope Patten was very much at the heart of the village community in Walsingham, particularly gifted in drawing young people to himself, and in getting them to sing and serve. He was also president of the village football team, somewhat surprisingly.

From these small seeds mighty oak trees grew: in October 1931 the image was transferred to the newly built Shrine and Holy House which is now so well known, and pilgrimage began in earnest, with sisters from the Community of St. Peter, and later the Society of St. Margaret (three of the original sisters’ successors have joined the Ordinariate) being recruited to look after hospitality and the sacristy. It was also at this time that Hope Patten took under his wing the young and extremely competent Derrick Lingwood, the son of the grocer. Lingwood was able to take over Patten’s more than chaotic paperwork and administration.

Patten was also able to garner support from other, more well known, sources in the Church of England, including the Abbot of Nashdom; Stephen O’Rorke, the retired Anglican bishop of Accra, as well as other notable personages, clerical and lay. These laid the foundations for the first College of Guardians, who, to this day govern the Anglican Shrine. It is run in such a way that it has no interference from the Church of England, and it is set in statute that if the college all convert to Catholicism, the Shrine may be given over to the Catholic Church. Now there’s something to pray about…

The Shrine continued to expand and grow in size and popularity, all under Hope Patten’s creative guidance. Not without failure, and in the face of fierce opposition. Not least from the Anglican Bishop of Norwich, who was not sympathetic to the cause in the least, and blighted the efforts to build up the shrine over many years. Though he and Hope Patten did come together against the proposed Prayer Book of 1928. The bishop feeling it went too far in its Catholicity and Hope Patten feeling it didn’t go far enough.

The Holy House today

Patten’s great dream was to revive a community living under the rule of St. Augustine, and so he began the Community of St. Augustine in 1936. This would stagger along, and flounder, and lurch for the rest of Hope Patten’s life; he being the only member who was to remain constantly; he was not an easy man to live with; and membership of the Community was less a vocation to the religious life as a vocation to live with Alfred Hope Patten.

Patten was by no means a saint, though many thought of him as one. As Colin Stephenson puts it at the end of his book “Walsingham Way”: “…there were sides to his character which did not fit into conventional patterns of sanctity. There were delusions of grandeur, but there was also a very profound humility which hated any sort of self publicity. There was a sternness and in some ways a ruthlessness when he was crossed, but there was also an almost feminine tenderness to those in trouble. There was a loneliness and detachment, but a frantic desire for companionship and understanding. He was always conscious of his priesthood, and being a perfectionist he demanded of himself in this respect the standard he required in others”.

Hope Patten’s Memorial Card

Hope Patten died on this day, at the end of the afternoon procession (attended by a great number of Anglican bishops, prior to the Lambeth Conference: a testimony to how far the Shrine had come in terms of acceptance by the church of England). He stepped behind a pillar (a priest should never be at a loss in front of his people) and collapsed; he was taken to his room in the college and died there a short time later.

It is easy to speculate: what would Hope Patten have done about the Ordinariate? Many will also have conflicting opinions about this. He had little interest in the Catholic Church in this country during his life; although an unwavering devotion to her on the continent. An interesting episode came to light, however, with the publication of Michael Yelton’s biography of Hope Patten: the night before his death, he was in conversation with a young friend, to whom he said “The time has come for you and I to become Roman Catholics, but we will have to discuss it later”. Who knows what might have happened had he lived a while longer?

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American Ordinary on the CDF

Back in March, Bishop Steven Lopes, of the American Ordinariate, gave a talk on his work at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and on the work of the Congregation generally. It is a very interesting document, and may be read here.

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Annual Ordinariate Festival timetable announced

The annual Ordinariate festival will take place Friday 2nd- Saturday 23rd September, with talks taking place in Piccadilly and Westminster; speakers include the Bishop of Brentwood and Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith, the well known priest-journalist.


Friday 22nd September 2017, 7.30pm
Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory, Warwick Street, London W1B 5LZ
Alan Williams, SM, Bishop of Brentwood: “Evangelism”
Followed by Reception

Saturday 23rd September 2017
Westminster City School, 55 Palace St, Westminster, London SW1E 5HJ (opposite the Cathedral)

10:30 – Arrival at Westminster City School (Tea and Coffee)
11:00 – Welcome; address “The Ordinariate and the English Way” and questions
12:30 – Mass – Westminster Cathedral
13:30 – 14:15 /14:30 Lunch served in Westminster City School – 2 course hot lunch – (£12 Booked)
14:30 – Second address: Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith on “Proclaiming the Gospel in the Internet Age”
1600 – Home

To book the two course lunch, please contact 24 Golden Square, or see the ordinariate website. Please book lunch by noon on Saturday 16th September, 2017


Posted in News

St. John Boste

One may be forgiven for thinking that all English martyrs were called John! This is not entirely the case but we do have something of a run of them at this time of year.

John Boste (or Boast), also termed by the Lord Huntingdon “the greatest stag of the north” eluded capture for ten years, ministering during some of the most difficult of penal times: the 1580s & 90s.

Born in Cumbria in the 1540s, he was an academic, being a fellow of Queen’s College, Oxford from 1572, although later resigning his fellowship around the time of becoming a Catholic. He was also made headmaster of his former school: Appleby Grammar School. He fled to Rheims and was ordained priest in 1581.

On returning to the English mission, he arrived first in East Anglia, before going to London and posing as the servant of Lord Montacute, and then returning to his native Cumbria, where, for the next ten years, he ministered in secret to recusant Catholics in that area. He travelled from house to house in the company of John Speed, a layman, who was also to be caught and martyred in 1594. Fr. Boste was known to the authorities, but skillfully evaded capture until, in 1593, he was betrayed by Francis Egglesfield whilst leaving the Waterhouse on the Egglesfield estate.

Egglesfield asked for a blessing as Boste was leaving the house, which Boste willingly gave, not realising this was the signal to the Militia. He retreated into the house, before being found in a priest hole behind the fireplace. He was then handed over to Richard Topcliffe for interrogation and torture in the Tower of London, before being returned to Durham for the July Assizes, where he faced trial and condemnation. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

An eye witness account states that he was “resolute, bold, joyful, and pleasant” throughout his torture, trial and execution. He publicly absolved Bl. George Swalwel, who had recanted his faith out of fear, and who then returned and suffered martyrdom for the faith.

He announced that he was not a traitor, saying: “My function is to invade souls, not to meddle in temporal invasions”, and going up the steps of the scaffold, he recited the Angelus, and was martyred with great brutality; being cut down from the gallows semi-conscious, and hacked as he stood.

He was martyred on this day in 1594, at the age of 50.

Posted in English Martyrs

Ordinary Interviewed

Our Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, has given an interview to; read more here

Posted in News

St. Philip Evans & St. John Lloyd, Martyrs of Wales.

The Roman Martyology records no fewer than 60 saints who bear the name John, and no fewer than 13 Philips. This is by no means a complete list, and many good and holy men and women who have not been raised to the altars have also received these names at baptism, confirmation and religious profession.

In some ways, therefore, today’s two saints, Philip Evans, SJ, and John Lloyd, are unremarkable and very ordinary priests. But the reformation, and indeed the whole of human history, is full of ordinary people performing remarkable works.

St. John Lloyd, the older of the two saints by some 15 years, was born at about 1630, and went to the Royal English College at Valladolid, being ordinaed priest on 7th June 1653. The following April he returned to Wales, and spent 24 years ministering among the Catholics of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire operating over a vast area. His brother was also a secular priest: Fr William Lloyd, who was also imprisoned in the Titus Oates plot, but died as a result of his torture before he was executed.

John Lloyd was arrested 20th November, 1678 and placed in solitary confinement, until being united in a cell with the younger Philip Evans.

St Philip Evans was born in Monmouthshire in 1645, studied at St. Omer, in France, and was ordained for the Society of Jesus in 1675. He immediately returned to Wales, and spent the next four years administering the Sacraments around Abergavenny, in his native Monmouthshire, staying in various different houses and continuing largely unmolested. He stayed at Sker House, with the Tuberville Family, where he was eventually arrested, in the wake of the Titus Oates plot. His betrayer was the younger bother of the owner of the house. He was arrested on the 4th December, 1678. He was then taken to Cardiff and imprisoned in the Castle Goal. For the first few weeks of his incarceration he was in solitary confinement, before being put in the same cell as Fr. John Lloyd. They were imprisoned until trial in May of 1679.

Their trial found them guilty of being priests, and they were sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered on the 9th May, 1679. It was not, however, until July that the sentence was decreed to be carried out. Philip, a light hearted man, was found playing tennis (they were allowed quite a bit of liberty) on the 21st July when news that the execution was to take place the following day reached him. The jailer told him he should return to prison, to which he responded “what haste is there? First let me play out my game!” which he duly did.

Philip was also a fine harp player, and when his jailers came to collect the two priests on the morning of the execution, they found Philip playing his harp, in spite of his leg shackles. These shackles took an hour to remove, so tight were they, and caused him excruciating pain.

Eventually they were led out and dragged on hurdles through the streets of Cardiff to what is still known as “Death Junction”. Philip was the first to be executed, saying: “This is the best pulpit a man can have to preach in, therefore, I cannot forbear to tell you again that I die for God and for Religion’s sake.” He addressed the crowd in English and in Welsh, then turning to Fr Lloyd, who stood waiting his own turn, he said, “Adieu, Mr Lloyd! Though only for a little time, for we shall soon meet again.”

Mr. Lloyd then had to watch as his friend and cell mate was hanged drawn and quartered, before suffering the same fate himself. Both men were under 50 years of age.

Oddly, they both had sisters who were nuns of the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, at Paris (the Blue Nuns). St. John’s sister died four years before he did, but St. Philip’s sister still lived when they were martyred. St. John wrote to her, after his tennis match, and told her of his impending execution , telling her to neither mourn or worry for him.

They were executed on this day, 338 years ago.

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St John Plessington

Continuing our series on the forty canonised martyrs of England & Wales

20th July: St. John Plessington

It is, as we have said before, so very easy to lump the martyrs of England and Wales together in one solid mass of witness, we seldom think of them in terms of who they were, where they came from, the time in which they lived.

Our martyr today, St. John Plessington, was born about forty years after the death of our last martyr: St. John Jones. He was born into a recusant family at around 1637 (more than that we cannot say with any certainty); we do know, however, that he was born in the delightfully named Dimples, in Lancashire, in what is now the Shrewsbury diocese.

He was educated by Jesuits in Scarisbrick, before going to study for priesthood at the Royal English College of St. Alban, in Valladolid in Spain. He entered the college on 18th November, 1660, under the assumed name of Scarisbrick, and was ordained priest on the feast of the Annunciation, 1662, before returning to exercise his ministry in England.

He returned to Lancashire, and worked in Cheshire and Holywell, being based out of Puddington Hall, where he served as tutor to the Massey family children. He carried on a quiet, harmless existence from 1663-1679.

However, he became one of those accused in Titus Oates’ Popish Plot: a fabricated plot wherein Jesuits and others were working to assassinate Charles II. Oates, a well known perjurer, had been received into the Catholic Faith, and gone off to Valladolid and St. Omer, in France, with the intention of learning more of the methods of Jesuits, and working to bring about the end of their work in England. He may well have known Fr John.

Legend has it that the reason Fr. Plessington was fingered in the Oates Plot because a local Protestant landlord was furious at his blocking a marriage between the landowner’s son and a Catholic heiress. Plessington was tried, and hanged, drawn and quartered on 19th July, 1679, near Chester. On the scaffold, he forgave those who had born false testimony against him. His words on the scaffold were also written ahead of time, and widely circulated:

It perhaps shows how much feeling was turning against such state persecution of Catholics (the last martyr, Oliver Plunkett was martyred only a couple of years later in 1681), ad perhaps a testimony to the esteem in which they held their local Catholic priest, that the local residents refused to allowed his dismembered remains to be exhibited before the rude and scoffing multitudes, but instead he was buried in the churchyard at St. Nicholas, in Burton.





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American Ordinary on the Ordinariate Liturgy

Image result for bishop steven lopes

The Rt. Rev’d Steven Lopes, who became Ordinary of the American Ordinarite of the Chair of Peter in February of last year, has written a dissertation on the nature of the Ordinariate Liturgy which was presented to The Liturgical Institute, Mundeline at the end of June this year.

We encourage anyone with an interest in this Use to spend some time reading and reflecting on Bishop Lopes’ words.

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St. John Jones: English Martyr

This begins an occasional series of articles on the lives of the forty English Martyrs of England and Wales, observing their local feasts.


It is very easy to lump together those forty martyrs, canonised by Bl. Paul VI in 1970, as one solid wall of the confession of faith. Each, however tells their own unique story and it is these we hope to explore over the next months.

12th July, St. John Godfrey Jones

John was born into a recusant family in  Clymag Faur in Carnaervon in about 1530: his family continued to practice the faith throughout the reformation. During the restoration, John entered the Friars Minor at Greenwich, and there was clothed, taking the name Godfrey. In the novitiate he  had a great reputation for personal holiness.

With the death of Queen Mary, and Elizabeth’s accession to the throne, Br. Godfrey, still only a novice, and the rest of the community at Greenwich fled to the continent and Godfrey was professed at Pontoise. He was probably ordained at Rheims, and spent some years ministering in France, before being assigned to Ara Coeli in Rome, the headquarters of the Friars Minor at the end of the 1580s

Fr Godfrey was however  filled with a burning desire to return to England and minister to Catholics worshiping in secret; it is easy to imagine him receiving letters from home about the problems recusants were facing, and wishing to be amongst them at least to console them. His order, however, did not share the desire to lose one of their brightest and best to the rack, noose, hurdle, and torturer’s tools. It took an audience with Clement VIII to receive the permission, which he granted gladly, with the words  “Go, because I believe you to be a true son of Saint Francis. Pray to God for me and for his holy Church.”

With this he returned to England, arriving in the early 1590s. He ministered primarily in London, always on the move, always vigilant, always careful. Until, at the end of 1595 he was caught by the notorious “Priest Catcher” Richard Topcliffe, a member of parliament and a man with a mania against Catholics. He received information that a priest called John Jones had been visiting two known Catholics and celebrating Mass there. It transpired that this was untrue, as said Catholics were in prison at that time.

This dd not stop Topcliffe from arresting Fr Godfrey. He was tortured and scourged in the hope of extracting information, before being taken to Topcliffe’s house: Topcliffe being possibly the only man in England to own his own rack.

After this, Fr Godfrey was imprisoned for two years, in the Clink prison in Southwark, doubtless having to beg for his food from passers-by through the iron grates. He did at this time sustain another of the forty martyrs in his faith: St. John Rigby.

Finally, on the 3rd July, 1598 the good friar was brought to trial on a charge of “going over the seas in the first year of Her majesty’s reign (1558) and there being made a priest by the authority from Rome and then returning to England contrary to statute”. He was convicted of high treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered at St Thomas Watering.

His initial interrogator, Topcliffe, presided over the execution as a kind of macabre Master of Ceremonies. Henry Garnet, SJ, recounts that Jones was tied to a trellis and dragged to the place of his torment. He was held there for an hour before execution during which time Topcliffe harangued the crowd with his supposed crimes. Garnet recounts that the crowd was touched more by John’s prayers than by the calumnies of his torturer and executioner. His remains were hung up on the road between Newington and Lambeth.

Today is the anniversary of his martyrdom. May he pray for us.

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Happy Feast of St. Benedict

The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary

On this feast of St. Benedict, we rejoice in the gift to the church of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, formerly of the Anglican Community of St. Mary the Virgin, Wantage and now part of the Ordinariate. The Sisters live their life following the Rule of St. Benedict.



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