Saturday, 31 December 2011

This is what's "down the road"

This, for those from overseas who might not know it, is the only site memorial that we in Great Britain have to our Reformation Martyrs - the men and women who offered up their lives and suffered most brutally for the sake of Our Blessed Lord and His Mass.

The memorial lies on a small traffic island at one end of London's Edgware Road facing Marble Arch.

It is hardly what one could describe as uplifting; a small, cracked roundel set into the pavement.

St Thomas More (yes I know he was martyred at the Tower, not Tyburn) would have said that this apology of a memorial was the result of "a weak clergy lacking in grace".

Somehow that quote resounds constantly in my ears these days.

I posted on this issue about 12 months ago when I had only just begun my blogging nightmare journey.
I did not really expect any sort of reaction from the Church authorities and I have not been disappointed.

But, really, it is shameful!

Would some brave soul bring this issue to the attention of Archbishop Nichols and would His Grace make the cause for a fitting memorial one of his New Year resolutions?

With the London Gay Pride event due to pass within a few hundred yards of Tyburn this summer would it not be a good and wholesome thing to mark what we Catholics deem important?

This post would not be complete without coverage of the 'new' image that is on display, just a few rope lengths from where the martyrs shed their blood - here it is.............

So profound, so moving, the "Jelly Baby" sculpture
standing at Tyburn - dedicated to.....what?

It was destined to be in place for 12 months up until April 2011 but from all accounts it's still there. Wonderful!


  1. "This, for those from overseas who might not know it, is the only site memorial that we in Great Britain have to our Reformation Martyrs - the men and women who offered up their lives and suffered most brutally for the sake of Our Blessed Lord and His Mass."

    Richard, were the other site memorials destroyed after Vat II or was this always the only memorial? It's just the way your post concludes, you seem to be holding our present Archbishop solely responsible for this lack.

    If this has always been the only one, then why not have a go at all the Archbishop's in the hundreds of years before the current one as well? All the Latin Mass Priests and Bishops. Their oversight may be the cause of the decline in religious observance as you would wish to see it?

    Or maybe everything, absolutely EVERYTHING wrong with the church today is AB Vincent Nicholls and Vat II's fault.

    Just not the lack of martyr monuments though, eh? ;)

  2. Ros, badly phrased perhaps. I meant that this is the only one in London.
    The lack of a decent memorial goes back before ++ Nichols time. I am not sure that I am trying to blame anyone...just trying to get a wrong corrected.
    The present Archbishop is the man to fix it though!

  3. As Catholics in Great Britain, we are, and remain a minority. Our martyrs were put to death by the English/British establishment at sites of public execution which were, and largely remain, in the hands of that establishment. That a small understated tablet was allowed at the site of Tyburn tree is a concession by the authorities who, in case you haven't noticed, remain deeply antipathetic to Christ's true Church. We are tolerated- a fact for which many who suffered during the centuries of the penal laws would have been grateful. Many of the martyrs have been commemorated in the dedication of churches and schools near to where they suffered. Indeed although Tyburn Tree is marked by a small plaque there is, nearby, a community of sisters engaged in perpetual adoration- a much more eloquent memorial than any monument. And, yes, I do know of another site memorial which I visited in 1970 although I do not know if it survives in Catholic hands. It was in a private garden at Red Hill, Worcester, close to where St John Wall OFM, Bl. Edward Oldcorne SJ and the Venerable Ralph Ashley were martyred. I seem to recall, too, the dedication of a site plaque commemorating Catholic martyrs in Oxford not so long ago. It is also worth recalling that Harvington Hall, near Chaddesley Corbett, a recusant house with many priest hiding holes and associated with St John Wall and St Nicholas Owen SJ is owned and maintained by the Archdiocese of Birmingham as a memorial. A good blog for information on our English and Welsh martyrs is .
    I hope this is helpful.

  4. Excellent post, Richard.

    Of course, most people who pass by the Marble Arch area never see this memorial. But at least some manage to come across another - the Tyburn Convent, which is our martyrs' shrine and also a shrine to the Sacred Heart (a devotion that was first preached by St Claude de la Colombiere just round the corner, in St James's).

    Like Patricius, I am sure I have come across a few other memorials around the country. We do need more, though!

  5. AFAIK, the Tyburn tree (first a real tree, then a mechanical one) was the general place of execution for several centuries and I personally wouldn't see it as identified with Catholic martyrs or linked to them in any special way.

    In my eyes, the fitting place for a monument to Catholic martyrs would be on Church ground, preferably in London, in order to avoid all the polemics and controversies. The monument to Cardinal Newman at the Brompton Oratory is in my eyes a good example.

    Happy New Year!


  6. And a Happy and Holy New Year to you Mundabor.
    Tyburn was and still is a focal point for English Catholics especially. So much holy blood was shed there that it follows that it is a holy place.
    It is, whether one likes it or not, inextricably linked to the martyrs and, just as we mark the graves of those who fell in battle in Northern France, so I believe, we should hold Tyburn in similar esteem.

  7. Patricius - I cannot agree with your case. I believe that we need to keep our Catholic history in the public gaze so that true history does not become more distorted than it already is.
    I really wish to be more than just 'tolerated'.
    A Happy and Holy New Year to you.

  8. There is a Catholic monument there! The Jelly Babies are perfect for the wibbly wobbly bishops who want a rainbow church of.... [rant went on for some hours].

  9. Gareth.....marvellous! Perhaps we will get a monument to Allsorts of Martyrs!