This took place on Saturday 31st May, but so much has been happening since then it is only now that I am getting round to posting the pictures.
It was a glorious day, the chapel was full of Catholic families from Oxford, Reading, Abingdon, and points in between, and, the feast being the Queenship of Our Lady, the celebrant, Fr John Saward of SS Gregory and Augustine, preached beautifully on Our Lady. The Oxford Gregorian Chant Society provided the music, under the direction of our professional coach, Mr Adrian Taylor. Afterwards the schola and a number of others had lunch in a nearby pub, the Pack Saddle, and then returned with the general public for a tour of this fascinating house, where Catholicism was preserved throughout penal times.
The chapel itself is an important example of the chapels which served as de facto parish churches in the 18 and 19th Centuries. Surprisingly, formal parishes were not established in England until after the First World War. Mapledurham's secret attic chapel served the local population until the Catholic Relief Act of 1791 made it possible to build a publicly recognised chapel, albeit with neither a steeple nor a bell - it was consecrated in 1797. Unlike the chapel in the nearby Catholic houses of Milton Manor, there is a public entrance to the chapel from the outside, as well as a door from the main house for the family. Nevertheless it discreetly blends in with the rest of the house. As it happens the Anglican parish church is only a hundred yards from this side of the house.
I very much hope to establish a sung Traditional Mass at Mapledurham as at least an annual event. The chapels of the Recusant Catholic houses of the Oxford area are of such significance for the preservation of the Faith, and above all the Traditional Mass, from the 16th Century right into the 20th, it is appropriate for us not only to pay our respects to them but to assist, in a small way, with their upkeep, which is often a headache for the extraordinarily dedicated families who live in them.