Old Catholic Lancashire (1550-1850), W. By Dom F. 0. Blundell, O.S.B.
(Burns. Oates and Washhowne, 6s.) '
Reviewed by PETER F. ANSON
TO those who are interested in per-asonalities and pedigrees this third volume of Dom Odo Blundell's Old Catholic Lancashire will be an almost inexhaustible feast. The ordinary reader, who is not particularly keen about genealogies, May find it rather boring, and at times he will be unable to see wood for " family trees."
However, whatever may be the faults of this book, there can be no doubt that its compilation has been a labour or love to the author. So great is his passion for ancestries that he takes it for granted that all his readers share the same interest, with the result that his hook is far less stimulating than Dom Bede Carnm's Forgotten Shrines, and at the same time not nearly so useful for reference purposes as the volumes of the Victoria County History• devoted to Lancashire.
Fr. Blundell is a little inconsistent. too. about his statistics: for instance, he says in the foreword that Ms chronology is from 1e50 to 1850, yet when ;t suit him, he gives much more up-to date details, or at other times leaves off abruptly.
HE is so absorbed with persons that build
ings arc often passed over with hardly a brief mertion. He refers to numerous churches, but only describes two of them in any detail-Portico and Burscough. Such fascinating churches as those at Hamby, Samlesbury-, Mawdestey, Brownedge, Clayton Green or Si. Alban's, Warrington, are dismissed with little more than a line, sometimes less. On the other hand, there are vivid impressions of the chapels at Ince Blundell and Formby.
We are given overwhelming information about the families which lived in Scarisbrick Hall, but that amating example of Gothic Revival architecture is completely ignored, except in the illustration. A picture of the old church at Lowe House. St. Helens, would have been more within the scope of this book than one or the so-called " basilica " erected a few years ago.
Despite these criticisms it mute be admitted that Fr. Blundell has managed to collect a vain amount of out-of-the-way notes about the lives of Old Catholic Lancastrians, beginning with the curious dedication eulogising the public career of the late Colonel Shute and concluding with a chapter devoted to Lancashire ladies in convents abroad.
Altogether the book is reminiscent of an overcrowded museum, where valuable exhibits badly need a capable curator to arrange them in a more attractive manner.