Just down the road from where we live, and across the flood-plain of the Thames, is the Church of Sandford upon Thames: which has a marvellous piece of undamaged medieval sculpture which survived by being carefully buried face-downwards so as to look like a paving stone in the Churchyard. Disinterred in 1723, it is Maria Assumpta, her aureole clutched by some very determined angels and at the bottom two angels holding a carved stone reliquary (empty). I wonder how many churches in England tried to protect their treasures in this way, and when. We shouldn't assume that it had to be in 1546/9; there is evidence that a great deal survived until the Civil War.
The officiating priest in 1839 was that admirable (why is there no cause for his beatification?) missionary for Jesus and hymnographer, Fr Faber, composer of so many of the lovely hymns in the English Catholic Hymn Book (see the post of February 4). Of course he was still an Anglican at the time he was at Sandford. A devoted client of our blessed Lady, it is recorded that after one particularly moving Marian Extravaganza at Brompton he asked, in tears, 'Do you think Mamma was pleased?'
He is now interred in the Brompton Oratory, which he founded; the only church in London where I feel really at home. I wonder how his spiritual journey was affected by his years at Sandford, looking at that early sixteenth century carving of Mamma's Glory; and whether, amidst the Baroquery which he assembled for his Oratory (built after his death), he ever thought back to his days under our Lady's care in a little church by the Thames.
I include below a comment made some years ago by my friend Professor William Tighe, who seems to stroll in and out of the prosopography of the Tudor Court with distracting familiarity.
To be continued.