Our former Archivist, Margaret Osborne, has recently published two detailed Lives of two of our former Bishops. These will be of great value to anyone interested in the history of the Diocese, or more generally in the place of Catholicism in the social currents of the times.
Arthur Grange Riddell - Bishop, 1880-1907.
"Good Bishop Riddell" was the third Bishop of Northampton after the creation of the Diocese in 1850, following Wareing and Amherst. He was effectively our Bishop for the closing of the Victorian era and the first half of the Edwardian era. Becoming Bishop at the age of 44, with relative youth and energy on his side, he was responsible for the foundation of many of our now-older parishes in the growing industrial and railway towns of a formerly rural area. Bishop's House was built for him in 1885. With a 27-year episcopate, longer even than Bishop Parker, he had time to achieve much.
Margaret's pamphlet is sub-titled "Roman Catholic Revival in the heart of Puritan England" and is available from the Cathedral bookstore and from Daventry parish, in return for a donation to the Sick & Retired Priests fund. As well as being a most thorough account of Bp Riddell's achievements, it is full of period detail. Anyone compiling histories of our older parishes ought to have a copy.
Dudley Charles Cary-Elwes, 1921-32
A member of the Elwes family, with seats at Great Billing near Northampton and at Brigg in Lincolnshire. He was our Bishop during the "Roaring Twenties" , the postwar-adapting phase of the "Downton Abbey" lifestyle, with challenges from Socialism, new technology, and young fashions in jazz and clothes. Margaret's thesis, in a lengthy and fascinating article for the Northamptonshire Record Society journal, is that this Bishop's existing biographies and obituaries have not done full justice to his character and achievements (it did not help his fame that he was overshadowed by his brother Gervase, who became a famous tenor singer.) The full article is in the Society's journal "Northamptonshire Past and Present" - Issue 67 (2014). It can be had for £3.50 plus a stamp from the NRS, Wootton Hall Park, Northampton NN4 8BQ. It will be of particular interest to parishioners at Billing and Peterborough, and any parishes founded or expanded in the 1920's.
"An Enduring Legacy: The Apostolic Ministry of the Cary-Elwes' of Great Billing, 1865-1965".
In summer 2015 Margaret Osborne expanded her researches into Bp Cary-Elwes which gave rise to the above article, and has published, as a 76-page booklet, a hugely detailed account of his family, their seats and local-gentry roles at Billing Hall and Brigg (Lincolnshire), and their wide-ranging involvement and connections in English society from the mid-Victorian era to the 1930's. Their story is parallelled at all points by descriptions of the growth in the Diocese of Northampton, with many vignettes of its characters, clerical, aristocratic, and enthusiastic laity. The final section traces the further development of Bp Cary-Elwes' legacy through to the post-war period, and in the case of his beloved church at Great Billing, to its establishment as the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in 2006.
The work is dedicated to the memory of Fr Damien Walne, much-loved parish priest of Great Billing 1991-2015, who wished that this book should be published. It will be of the greatest interest to locals, and to any student of the Catholic history of this country.
Copies are available from the Catholic Presbytery at High Street, Great Billing NN3 5DT - suggested price £5:00 - cheques payable to Billing Catholic Parish - all proceeds for the benefit of the parish. The Parish Seceretary will doubtless discuss the despatching of copies by post if required. Ring 01604 406410 or e-mail.