Fighting talk

It was a tragedy,’ says Dame M. Flora Enderby, churchwarden of St Anselm of Canterbury, Lower Pusey in the diocese of Barchester, when the bailiffs arrived during the 11.00am High Mass to evict the priest and congregation from their twelfth century church.

At an extraordinary parish meeting the congregation had voted nem. con. to enter one of the ordinariates created by Pope Benedict XVI for congregations just like them.

‘We have always opposed these damned liberals,’ said Major Arthur Cornwallis, Dame Flora’s fellow churchwarden.

‘Lower Pusey was a rallying point Pilgrimage of Grace. We fought off both lots of Cromwellians, buried our altar stone and font in the church glebe and dug them out again after the Interregnum. In the ‘worst of times’, as the inscription says, our vicar erected a rood screen and altar rails. His successor but one joined the non-jurors.’

‘Come the Oxford movement we were well to the fore. Keble preached here, and one of our young curates joined Newman at Littlemore. We were the second church in England after the Reformation to introduce eucharistic vestments and the third to reserve the Blessed Sacrament. Fr Gillespie was imprisoned with Fr Tooth and the parish was put under the ban by Bishop Fames.’

‘So we know what the Church of England is like. We have the measure of Bishop Dick, as he calls himself. They can take us on if they like. They always lost in the past.’