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Studentate Trip to Mapledurham

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On Saturday 25th April the Dominican students, accompanied by Fr David Goodill O.P., took a trip to Mapledurham, a Catholic recusant house just outside Reading. Built between 1588 and 1612, the house is very unusual in that, unlike most recusant house that were simply adapted. it was purpose-built to be a place where the Catholic Blount family could hide priests and where Mass could be celebrated in secret.

The owner, Mr John Eyston, a descendant of the Blount family, was kind enough to welcome us to celebrate Mass in the family chapel, built in the 18th century, and then proceeded to give us a fascinating and informative tour. The house has several hiding holes in which priests would hide from the authorities during penal times, and we were all most impressed at how cleverly constructed these hiding holes were. They boasted many ingenious features that allowed the priest, among other things, to look out into the grounds of the house and to escape when the coast was clear. The hiding holes must have served their purpose for there is no record of a priest ever being captured at Mapledurham!

The house boasts many other interesting features, including a bureau that hides an altar, complete with tabernacle and candlesticks inside. All of this made for a very enjoyable day, particularly as we were blessed with fine weather. The house is well worth a visit, it would interest anyone but is of particular interest for Catholics of course, being such a good reminder of how much our ancestors in the faith suffered and struggled to remain true to the faith of the Catholic Church during those dark years.

After we toured the house, we shared a meal together in a local pub. The fact that we could now openly enjoy our fraternal life together, and visibly as Catholic friars, was a sign of how times had changed. And so, we thanked God for the witness of those recusants who had gone before us, and pray that we will be faithful to their memory by bearing witness to the Gospel in these lands.

Mapledurham house is located in the village of Mapledurham, Reading and is open to the public from April to September on Weekends and Bank Holidays. More information can be found at www.mapledurham.co.uk


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