Page 4, 19th September 1952

19th September 1952
Page 4
Page 4, 19th September 1952 — In a Few Words

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Organisations: Catholic Church


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In a Few Words

the Isle of Purbeck, history pursued us. A Stonyhurst man should not fail in that district to pay a visit to Lulworth Castle, once the home of the Welds, who gave Stonyhurst to the Jesuits and now the burnt-out shell of its former self, owing to the great fire in 1929. The park is open to the public. and there is something very sad and strange about the occasional car driving up through a beautiful park to enable its load of visitors to wander round the ruined towers within which small trees have grown.

Our earliest church •

AFEW hundred yards away from the castle stands the oldest public Catholic church in the land. for George III allowed the Squire of Lulworth to build himself a Catholic church in his grounds in 1780. or rather suggested that if he built something in the shape of a mausoleum whose interior was a Catholic church, no one need know that the law of the land had been broken. The plan was successfully carried out, for though 1 was looking for the church. 1 never thought the strange Georgian building could possibly be the church.

To be restored

ER. LOMBARDI, parish priest and chaplain to the Welds, took me round, and later I called on Mr. Weld himself, who now lives in the village. The interior. they told me, is going to he remodelled by Mr. Goodhart Rendell to bring it back to its Georgian character. In Victorian days the square Georgian windows were replaced by imitative rounded windows and other unsuccessful changes made. By next year it is hoped that the church will be restored according to the plans which were shown me. It should then look a perfect period piece. I imagine it is the only Catholic church in the country without any exterior indication of its being a church except for a small cross and a Latin inscription to the effect that the building is dedicated to God. The history of still penal days is enshrined here at Lulworth.

A Catholic village

T ULWORTH CASTLE itself was L./bought by the Welds in the 17th century, and it was one of the finest Jacobean houses in the country. The cause of the fire has apparently never been satisfactorily traced, but the tragedy seemed all the greater in that the house had just been done up and completely modernised. I was shown photographs of the magnificent rooms taken shortly before the fire, as well as one of the clouds of smoke arising from within the towers while the fire was raging. But one felt that in these days of taxation and smaller living there was something to be said for the present home of the Squire in the lovely village where three-quarters of the inhabitants are Catholic, in the centre of many acres stretching to Lulworth Cove, all of which are still part of the estate.

Purbeck stone

THE Isle of Purbeck owed its pros' perity to the Purbeck stone, from which parts of our great cathedrals were built, though, alas, it is now mainly quarried for crazy pavements. The village of Worth Matravers was once more important than Swanage, and its past prosperity lives on in its extraordinarily interesting parish church dedicated to the sailors patron. St. Nicholas. Saxon and excellent Norman work characterise it. One particularly interesting feature is the "hagioscope" (crossword puzzle setter, please copy) or "squint." which works its way sideways through the chancel wall to enable worshippers at the side to see the altar. One could spend hours in such a place recapturing the long history of the men of Dorset as they toiled and prayed in their strong stone villages through generation after generation.

St. Edward and Plymouth

THE dominating saint of the district is St. Edward the Martyr, whose bones (1 was told) are deposited in a bank in Shaftesbury, though I believe that there is no certainty of authentification. St. Edward was murdered in Corfe Castle by his step-mother. Elfrida, second wife of King Edgar, so that her son, Ethelbert the Unready, could reign. Edward was popularly, but surely very inaccurately, acclaimed a martyr, but the holiness of his short life earned him Papal canonisation. I was glad to see that the neighbouring Catholic churches at Wareham and Swanage are dedicated to St. Edward, while the church at Sherborne is dedicated to St. AIdhelm. Indeed throughout the diocese of Plymouth, with its many new and handsome Catholic churches, there is a strong sense of Catholic continuity in the dedication of Catholic churches and one rarely comes across the French and Irish dedications which were so popular elsewhere. Another interesting point about the diocese is that it seems to have more churches per head of the clergy than any other. As one of them told me, in Plymouth you have to be prepared to be a solitary country priest. But the senst of England's Catholic past is as strong here—or stronger—as anywhere else. A great and romantic field for conversion.


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