Page 1, 2nd May 1952

2nd May 1952
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Locations: London, Lincoln


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By a Staff Reporter SEVENTY-FIVE year-old Archbishop Myers, with the Bishop of Menevia on his left, the Bishop of Northampton on his right and a police sergeant making a fourth in line, led more than 3,000 pilgrims on Sunday along the Martyrs' Way from Ncwgate to Tyburn.

For the first time the Guild of Our Lady of' Ransom's annual Tyburn Walk in honour of the heroes of the Reformation, except for an occasional hymn, was made in complete silence.

The Archbishop and the Bishops, setting a slow, steady pace, walked the whole way with their hands behind their backs, their fingers passing from bead to bead on their rosaries— which somehow recalled the chains the martyrs wore.

Behind them came three laymen— one carrying the Ransom Cross—and a large group of priests, regular and secular, who might perhaps be counted as the representatives of those gallant men who celebrated Mass in secret and the laymen who risked their lives—and often lost them—to harbour their priests.

With halts at the pre-Reformation Church of St. Etheldreda, the Church of SS. Anselm and Cecilia—on the site of the Sardinian Embassy Chapel which perished in the Gordon Riots —and at St. Patrick's, Soho Square, the walk took just on two hours and a half.

Had we halted at all the sites of heroic Catholic deeds we passed, we might have been on the road until at least nightfall on this summer day in spring. Even to most Catholics these spots are "forgotten shrines," One needs Douglas Newston for a guide, and "Catholic London," the book he completed shortly before he died last year.


The bells of near-by St. Paul's were ringing happily as the pain ims queued by the railings of old St. Sepulchre's Church by the Old Bailey. Newton, listening to those bells, would surely have recalled that the bell tolled at St. Sepulchre's as a condemned man was brought out of Newgate Jail across the way.

This day the clocks striking three gave the signal for the Archbishop and Bishops to take the first steps down the hill—the hill which in the martyrs' day was a muddy slope down to the Fleet river and the stone bridge which led up to old St. Andrew's Church: a bad start to a journey for men who were being dragged on horse-drawn, sledge-like hurdles.

By St. Andrew's Church lived Swithin Wells, whose home was a Mass-house and a refuge for hunted priests. Topliffe the pursuivant eventually caught him, and Swithin Wells paid the penalty. But—time pressing—we passed the site on Sunday without stopping, though probably at least a few pilgrims remembered Blessed Swithin and his wife, who missed execution but spent the rest of her life in prison.

On to Holborn—into what Newton called "a focal point of Catholic history," a "rallying ground for the counter-Reformation" and "a centre of the effort that led to Catholic emancipation," but which we today know chiefly as the street of Gamage's stores and the headquarters of the Prudential.

GOOD COVER Bishops abounded in Holborn and its side-streets in Catholic, Reformation and penal days.

A narrow street on the left—Furnival Street—was the home of a number of Vicars Apostolic: a somewhat mean building whence in the days when London had some 20,000 Catholics all told, they ordained their priests and exercised spiritual government not only over the huge London District but also over immense lands in the British Empire.

Near-by Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn, where Bishops had their town residences, were mostly overgrown wildernesses in the dangerous days for men who held the old Faith: and very grateful those men were that it was so: it was good cover for a priest on the run and for men who wished to meet as Catholics.

There was many a secret Masscentre about these parts in inns and private houses. Bishop Challoner lived in a turning off Holborn, and Bishop Douglas, Bishop Poynter and Continued ,m Page 6

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