Monday, 4 April 2011

So casually are we traduced....

Readers of this blog will have seen my recent posts on Coughton Court, country seat of an old Recusant family, the Throckmortons.
When I visited there recently I stood on the edge of a small group while a guide (each room has a knowledgeable volunteer who offers information) gave forth on the history of the period.

"The Pope at the time excommunicated Queen Elizabeth and told Catholics that is was their duty to assassinate her"

Spouted the guide firmly.
I could not believe what I was hearing, so much so that I interjected and stated that the Pope issued no such command.

"Oh yes he did!" Was the response and I am afraid that I made the less than original reply - "Oh no he didn't".

For the sake of clarity I now relay the ensuing conversation:-

Guide: "Well he implied it"

Me: "No, he did not even imply it"

Guide: "Well he might not have implied it"

Me: "He didn't so please stop distorting the facts"

Now this may all sound rather trivial and even childish but stop to think for one minute, just how many vistors each day would leave Coughton Court under the impression that Catholics are a violent lot who only listen to the Pope on matters secular as well as spiritual. A modest estimate of visitor numbers would be c. 240 each day, 1,680 each week and, very roughly, 60,000 each year.
So are prejudices implanted and ingrained.

A hiding hole for priests revealed at Coughton
Court, still the seat of lies today regarding the Faith

Moving on to another room I asked yet another guide about an item of furniture and she relayed the information that it came from a Cambridge convent after Henry VIII had "closed" the monasteries and religious houses. More angst on my part. I politely pointed out that Henry did a shade more than "close" the monasteries".

There is an undercurrent of anti Catholicism in England and Wales, I have come across it many times in my career and, of course, socially. It never erupts beyond much more than a sideways swipe at all things Catholic at a dinner party or a mealy mouthed comment at a business meeting but it is the sort of thing that would not be contemplated if Islam or race or homosexuality was the topic of conversation.

Heavily distorted historical "facts" passed on to an audience who have no reason to suspect that the truth has been distorted beyond recognition, only adds fuel to the flames and helps embed prejudices.
I recall how, in history lessons at school we were first taught the textbook answers and then, pause, the Catholic ones. Thankfully, we never seemed to confuse the two.

The words of St Robert Southwell ring as true today as they did back in Reformation times......
We are generally accounted men whom it is a credit to pursue, a disgrace to protect, a commodity to spoil, a gain to torture, a glory to kill”….

He might have added....."a requirement to traduce!"


  1. Not at all trivial or childish. You did the right thing. The poison has been given drop by drop so everybody would believe it. Thank you for standing for the Catholic Church - as you always do.

  2. well done, im afraid its just ignorance about history's details, :( many ,many people who ought to know better just dont bother because they cant be bothered and the myths are easier than the facts. I frequently get cross at TV programmes and guides who get Christian art or artefacts completely wrong!!

  3. Thanks for this post. Well done for speaking out for the Truth. If repeated often enough and long enough, 'lies' become 'facts', especially when backed by ignorance - sometimes innocent, sometimes deliberate. Perhaps a gentle letter of correction to the National Trust, who I believe own Coughton Court, might not be amiss. In fact no sooner the word than the deed, now where's my pen?

  4. History is written by the victors, as we know; hence the anti-Catholic undercurrent which pervades to this day.
    Well done, sir, for your counter-cultural stance!

  5. Good for you for speaking up! I hope that guide will think twice when he gives his spiel again.

  6. I visited Coughton Court last year, but don't remember any anti-catholic words. Isn't that the place where the lord of the Manor eneded up living in a small room at the top of the house? However, at Baddeseley Clinton, I did encounter some anti-catholic stuff from one of the tour guides, nothing really nasty, just drip, drip sarcasm really.
    My membership has run out now, so I don't visit any nat trust places anymore boo hoo!

  7. Reminds me of a conversation I had with a guide at Exeter Cathedral who had been telling a crowd of American tourists that St Boniface converted the Germans with the help of priestesses... 'Well perhaps they were deaconesses' she replied to my initial expostulation. Where do they find these people?

  8. Just wanted to let you know that as a result of your post, the guides at Coughton Court are reviewing the presentation material to prevent inaccurate information being passed to the general public. If you send me your email address I will send you a copy of their very friendly letter. My email address is ''. Thanks 'umblepie'