12 November 2022

WARE (1): S Edmund of Abingdon and Canterbury; and Bishop Challoner

Together with the Birmingham and Brompton Oratories, the Chapel at Ware is one of the candidates I would put forth if I were asked to nominate three Catholic churches to survive a holocaust. It was built before the English Church had cathedrals, and so it in many ways has the feel of a Cathedral, particularly of the London District. This is partly because of the numbers of Vicars Apostolic buried there, or remembered by chantries; and, aesthetically, it is the product of A W Pugin's successful realisation of the spirit of late Gothic Christianity. 

I think he would have been pleased to see it in heavy use around dawn when traddy clerics are in residence: the murmur, the tinkling of bells, as priests and their servers take turns saying their private Masses at the (is it six?) altars. There are also many relics, and a beautiful Shrine Chapel of S Edmund of Abendon*, containing a femur of the Saint brought from his shrine at Pontigny. He also features prominently in the glass.

The College also has fascinating museum items. I feel an interest in Bishop Challoner, V.A. of the London District, partly because I have been able to say Mass from his Missal in the recusant Chapel at Milton Manor near Oxford, where Challoner liked to stay and where he was buried in the Squire's vault inside the Anglican Parish Church. (The prayer for his beatification is said after each Mass at Milton.) 

Ware possesses the lead crucifix which was on his original coffin (before the poor fellow was exhumed and carted off to Westminster Cathedral). It has his splendid tall baroque mitre, exhibited beside a Puginesque Gothic mitre about a tenth of its height! And various other memorabilia.  

* Yes; I think that is the correct, or historical, way of spelling Abingdon. I love this great Saint's festival in November, and enjoy visiting the Church  there  ... full of allusions to the Order of Malta.


Shaun Davies said...

I don't like to sound schoolmasterly and pedantic but there are eight Altars, actually, if you include the Scholefield Chantry Chapel (added in 1862) adjoining the main College Chapel.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I accidentally deleted a jolly comment alluding to a typo in the needlework in the Slipper Chapel. Sorry. If the writer does it again, I will certainly enable it.

Christophorus said...

If you will excuse my pun "Where is the Chapel at Ware?" I can't find it on google.

Thank you

frjustin said...

This is off topic, but with Advent Sunday coming up, I would like to inform readers that there is a website which provides an annual Ordo ("Liturgical Calendar") for the Extraordinary Form in English and Latin.

For the "Liturgical Calendar General Roman Calendar (Extraordinary Form)", go to
This lists every day of the year for 2021, 2022, and 2023.

For the "Calendarium Liturgicum Calendarium Romanum Generale (forma extraordinaria)":
This also lists every day of the year for 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Each Ordo also includes a link to today/hodie.

Chrysologos said...

Ad Christophorum:
The Chapel is the Chapel of St Edmund's College, Ware q.v. Google finds it with no problem.

John Vasc said...

Somebody really should make a modern English translation of the Anglo-Norman/Latin text of the 'Speculum Religiosorum'/ 'Speculum Eccelsiae' of St Edmund of Canterbury (=Edmund of Abingdon). Even just an up-to-date English version of Richard Rolle's version would be a start. St Edmund's work is such a stimulating and well-written approach to contemplation - first through doctrine, and then connecting the hours of Office with the stages of Christ's Passion.
Or is there such a modern text already? If so, I haven't come across it. (There was some excellent research work on the texts by Helen Forshaw fifty years ago.)