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Diary

by
03 August 2011

by Glyn Paflin

Protégé’s parting

IT MAY be to do with its timing, but the phrase “The first fruits of the Oxford Movement” catches my eye on the cover of a new book* by the archivist of the Roman Catholic arch­diocese of Westminster.

This is a human harvest, however, not the family silver departing across the Tiber; and it refers to someone who normally gets only a walk-on part in the great drama of Newman’s secession, but who was one of its last survivors when he died in 1892.

In the index of Ian Ker’s John Henry Newman, William Lockhart earns only one reference to two successive pages; but here he is awarded a slim biography.

Though Lockhart’s life is chiefly of interest to devotees of the so-called Second Spring, Ronald Knox said of him: “If he is remembered for noth­ing else, he should be remembered for having provoked one of the greatest passages in English liter­ature. It was of him Newman was speaking when he preached his sermon on the Parting of Friends.”

So indeed it was; for the scandal of what Edward Churton, a member of the Hackney Phalanx, denounced as the “defection of that rogue, Lock­hart; who has played the Mon­astery a thorough Jesuitical trick, and left N[ewman] to bear the obloquy”, precipitated Newman’s resignation as Vicar of St Mary’s University Church, Oxford.

After his broken promise to Newman about staying for three years as one of the Littlemore “mincks” (as a Balliol man dubbed them), and this brief notoriety, Lockhart seems to have pursued a creditable ministry in the RC Church, founding the parishes of Our Lady and St Joseph, Kingsland, and St Etheldreda’s, Ely Place, working among the poor, writing a little book about the design of chas­ubles, and losing his rose-tinted specs vis-à-vis Pope Leo XIII in the Rosminian controversy.

To the Anglican reader, all the point-scoring rehearsed here against poor old Pusey and the Church of England gets a little wearisome, but Lockhart seems on the whole to have refrained in his latter years from biting the hand that had fed him. Perhaps that is the grace for which he should be remembered.

*William Lockhart: First fruits of the Oxford Movement by Nicholas Schofield (Gracewing, £12.99 (CT Bookshop £11.70); 978-0-85244-753-6)

Way in Essex

THE ARCHERS lost me long ago, but the TV series The Only Way is Essex recently helped to fill the gap. Having grown up in deepest Essex, I found this soapy series astonishing. Particularly intriguing was a swanky party attended by its tanned and sculpted and otherwise adorned reality-TV stars from the south of the county at Hylands House, Wid­ford, near Chelmsford.

This used to be a boarded-up, shored-up, mouldering house in parkland, with ruined labourers’ cottages and the touching graves of the former owners’ family pets. The council had bought it from an old lady with proceeds from the sale of the borough’s water company. A few years ago, when it was almost past rescue, it was belatedly refurbished as a venue for events.

For me, however, it was the forlorn atmosphere of abandonment which was the great attraction — more romantic, to my mind, even than following in the footsteps of the Celtic missionaries, despite the diocese’s best efforts in organising all those pilgrimages. I suppose it was the allure of Brideshead over that of Bradwell.

But now Our Lady of Ulting hoves into view. A recent addition to the many booklets by the Revd John Merrill — he was “Ordained as an Interfaith Minister” in 2010 — reveals that Essex has its very own Walsingham, which you can find by walking along the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation.

In 1477, a Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary was founded at Ulting, and survived until the Dissolution in 1548, when pilgrimages ceased, the Guild’s jewels and goods were sold for £18, and the chapel on the north side of the tower of All Saints’ was demolished.

The author suggests a 16-mile pilgrimage route. You start at Dan­bury Common, and reach All Saints’, Ulting, via Riffhams (a Humphry Repton estate) and Little Baddow, before returning to Dan­bury via West Ulting Hall, West Bowers Hall, and the Danbury Ridge Nature Reserve. “Allow seven hours,” he says.

It sounds quite arduous to me, but I suppose that on a sunny day it might just top up your tan as well as your devotion to our Lord’s mother.

*Our Lady of Ulting Pilgrimage Walk (The Pilgrim Ways Series No. 20) by John N. Merrill (The John Merrill Foundation, 32 Holmesdale, Waltham Cross, Herts EN8 8QY, £6.95; 978-0-9568044-5-7)

www.johnmerrillwalkguides.com  

Verse and worse

I HAVE to get the boss’s permission to print verse, lest we be inundated with unsolicited offerings. But he was won over after Dr Trevor John­son of Henley on Thames sent us his own updated version of Humbert Wolfe’s 1927 epigram:

You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God, the British journalist.
But seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there’s no occasion to.

Dr Johnson’s version is:

We need no longer bribe or twist
The dauntless British journalist,
Yet, given there’s no depth he won’t sink to,
Mayn’t we, his avid readers, stink too?

You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God, the British journalist.
But seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there’s no occasion to.

Dr Johnson’s version is:

We need no longer bribe or twist
The dauntless British journalist,
Yet, given there’s no depth he won’t sink to,
Mayn’t we, his avid readers, stink too?

No pink handbags?

A FRIEND saw a group of purple-cassocked women in Southwark Cathedral the Saturday before last. He jumped to conclusions, and hastened to affirm them. But ap­parently they were the Cranmer Choir.

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