Martyrs Mementoes

Last year, Fr Nicholas Schofield kindly presented to the Guild about the inspiring martyrs of England and Wales. (See the replay at

A super little book long out of copyright, Mementoes of the Martyrs and Confessors of England and Wales, tells many stories. [Nibil obstat and Imprimatur, 10 March 1910] It was written by Rev Fr. Henry Sebastien Bowden of the London Oratory, a priest who had a role in the long and eventual death-bed conversion of Oscar Wilde.

These mementoes will be published so far as practicality permits for the benefit of Guild members each week through 2022. They will appear in the London Region's Newsletter which you can sign-up for by contacting Stewart Lawrence. We hope they provide interest and devotion.


In this first week, a moving introductory poem with remarkable contemporary parallels; some of the history of Westminster Abbey's dissolution and most notable Catholics particular for their conversion.

January 1 

W. BLUNDELL, 1600 

THE time hath been we had one faith, 
And strode aright one ancient path; 
The time is now that each man may 
See new Religions coin'd each day. 

   Sweet Jesu, with thy mother mild. 
   Sweet Virgin mother, with thy child, 
   Angels and Saints of each degree,
   Redress our country's misery. 

The time hath been priests did accord 
In exposition of God's word ; 
The time is now, like shipman's hose, 
It's turn'd by each fond preacher's glose. 

The time hath been that sheep obeyed 
Their pastors, doing as they said; 
The time is now that sheep will preach, 
And th' ancient pastors seem to teach. 

The time hath been the prelate's door 
Was seldom shut against the poor; 
The time is now, so wives go fine, 
They take not thought the beggar kine. 

The time hath been men did believe 
God s sacraments his grace did give; 
The time is now men say they are 
Uncertain signs and tokens bare.

January 2 

THE time hath been men would live chaste, 
And so could maid that vows had past; 
The time is now that gift has gone, 
New gospellers such gifts have none. 

   Sweet Jesu, with thy mother mild, 
   Sweet Virgin mother, with thy child; 
   Angels and Saints of each degree 
   Redress our country's misery. 

The time hath been that Saints could see, 
Could hear and help our misery; 
The time is now that fiends alone 
Have leave to range –– saints must be gone. 

The time hath been fear made us quake 
To sin, lest God should us forsake; 
The time is now the vilest knave 
Is sure (he'll say) God will him save. 

The time hath been to fast and pray, 
And do alms deeds was thought the way; 
The time is now, men say indeed, 
Such stuff with God hath little meed. 

The time hath been, within this land, 
One's word as good as was his bond; 
The time is now, all men may see, 
New faiths have killed old honesty.

January 3 

ABBOT FECKENHAM, O.S.B., 1585 (i) 

JOHN HOWMAN was born at Feckenham in Worcestershire, and is known by the name of his birthplace.  As a Benedictine monk he became chaplain to Bishop Bonner, and was imprisoned in the reign of Edward VI for his defence of the Faith.  Under Mary he became 
Dean of St. Paul's, and, later, Abbot of the restored Abbey of Westminster.  In spite of its late dissolution, he received the Queen on St. Thomas Eve, December 20, 1556, with twenty-eight other monks, all men of mature age, the youngest being upwards of forty, and all pious and learned.  Some three years later, when he met Elizabeth for the opening of her first Parliament at the Abbey door, he in his pontifical robes and his monks in procession with their lighted candles, the Queen cried out, "Away with these lights ! We see very well."  The Litany was sung in English, and Dr. Cox, a married priest and bitter heretic, preached against the Catholic religion and the monks, and urged the Queen to destroy them.  The Abbot then knew that his fate was sealed.  On July 12, 1559, Feckenham and his monks were ejected for refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy. He was imprisoned, and died at Wisbeach, 1585. His abbey was destroyed, but the stones live. 

"Be ye also as living stones built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God." I PETER ii. 5.

Bl. Thomas Plumtree

January 4 


BORN in the diocese of Lincoln, a scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1546, he was made Rector of Stubton in his native county.  He resigned his benefice on the change of religion under Elizabeth, and became a school master at Lincoln, but was obliged to resign the post on account of his faith.  But it is as chief chaplain and priest of the army of the Rising that he won the martyr's palm.  His voice seems to have been like the Baptist's and to have stirred high and low alike.  His call to abandon heresy and to rally to the standard of the faith ran through the northern counties, and hundreds came in response to his summons. He appears to have been celebrant of the Mass in Durham Cathedral immediately preceding F. Holmes' sermon and the public Absolution which followed.  On his capture after the failure of the Rising, he was singled out as a notable example of the priests who had officiated.  On the gibbet in the market-place at Durham he was offered his life if he would embrace heresy, but he refused, and dying to this world received eternal life from Christ.  He suffered January 4,