5 July 2017

Recusant Ickford

Ickford is only a couple of miles along the River Thame from the recusant centre at Waterperry. Ickford church has a number of monuments to the Phillips family, who seem to have oscillated between being Recusants and Church Papists. Fr Thomas Phillips, in the first part of the eighteenth century, joined the Society of Jesus; I feel he was a man after my own heart, because he developed a great love for teaching the Humanities. When his superiors refused his plea to be allowed to teach a course in that subject, in a fit of pique he left the Society and acquired the patronage of King Charles III. The King secured him a canonry at Tongres and a dispensation to apply its income to his work in the English Mission. He ended his life chaplaining in great Catholic houses, such as that of the Earls of Shrewsbury; among his works was a lengthy biography of Cardinal Pole. Perhaps we could see him as a link between the dangerous recusancy of the seventeenth century and the first glimmerings of the catholic revival which was to happen in the nineteenth; and as a precursor of learned gentleman clergy in the English Catholic Church, such as Lingard and Tierney and Oliver.


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