Weekend 488.2

St George's CathedralWent to Mass at St. George’s Cathedral in Southwark. It was the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in London since the Reformation. It was also severely damaged in WWII by an incendiary bomb and visited by his Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1982.

The outside of the cathedral is very modest whilst the interior is similar to my own adopted parish of St. Margaret’s of Scotland in terms of its lack of ostentation. It’s accessible and cozy and the latter is not a word typically associated with cathedrals. There is some stained glass but it must be relatively new since the one dedicated to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre is from 1996. The glass is etched with the following:

“Pray for the Deceased Members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem 7th December 1996.”

I also learned more about the persecution and martyrdom of Catholics in the UK (Weekend 482.3). One of the few features in the cathedral to survive damage during the blitz was a memorial to Provost Thomas Doyle. The plaque next to the memorial reads:

“Two and a half centuries of penal laws against Catholics followed the Reformation of Henry VIII. By the 18th century some attitudes towards Catholics had changed but there was still a great deal of hostility.

In 1778 the first Catholic Relief Act allowed priests to minister openly and Catholics to buy or inherit property. This was not popular with everyone and in 1780 Lord George Gordon gathered about 50,000 protesters in St George’s Fields. They were to march to Westminster to present a petition seeking the repeal of the Act. What was initially a peaceful protest turned into a violent rampage, later known as the Gordon Riots. The cathedral stands on land which was once part of the same fields where Gordon gathered his followers.”

Lord George Gordon was an interesting fella and the riots were the subject of the Charles Dickens novel Barnaby Rudge. This quote from History Today about the Gordon Riots is interesting (the ghost of Santayana):

“The Gordon Riots, however, which showed how easily a big political gathering could erupt out of control into terrifying mass violence, sent a chill down the collective spine of the English propertied and ruling classes that lasted for years and helped to inspire repressive legislation and harden resistance to reform.”

In Our Time: S21/33 The Gordon Riots (May 2, 2019)

Unrelated Weekend Historical Note
Visited St. Peter in Petersham and the graveyard is the burial place of Captain George Vancouver.

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