Sunday, 26 August 2012

Summer School

Our annual Summer School, for students of Thomas More College in New Hampshire and others, directed by Leonie and Teresa Caldecott, turned out to be great fun. The 2012 course concluded by looking at Christian writers of the later nineteenth and twentieth century who represent a “Catholic literary revival” – part of the Catholic resurgence prophesied by Newman in his “Second Spring” sermon of 1852, after the lifting of restrictions that had been imposed on Catholics since the Reformation. We studied the roots of this revival in the English Catholic culture before and after the Reformation, including the dissolution of the monasteries and the persecutions that followed. The conflicts and tensions in Reformation England were studied through the eyes of our greatest writer, William Shakespeare, with the help of Lady Asquith, author of the brilliant Shadowplay.

Thus for the the first part of the School we located the students at Downside Abbey, in the West Country near Bath, where the Abbot, Dom Aidan Bellenger, gave some superb lectures on the dissolution of the monasteries, and other lecturers spoke on the subsequent history of the Reformation. Downside is near to Mells, too, the family home of Lady Asquith, and there were excursions there and to Wells, Bath, and Glastonbury. Then off to Oxford via the White Horse of Uffington and the recusant house at Mapledurham, kindly hosted by the owner John Eyston (a direct descendant of St Thomas More).

In Oxford the students stayed at the Benedictine Hall of the University, St Benet's, and there we began to focus on the 19th century Catholic Emancipation, the Oxford Movement, and the Catholic revival itself, with G.K. Chesterton its biggest fruit (and here access to the Chesterton Library gave an almost sacramental connection to the great man himself). Visits to colleges, to C.S. Lewis's home at the Kilns, his grave in Headington Quarry and Tolkien's grave at Wolvercote, all helped to bring the ideas to life. (The picture shows Aidan Mackey and Stratford Caldecott with some of the students in the Chesterton Library.)

The last evening in Oxford was spent with Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis's friend, and the final day involved an excursion to London, to see Westminster Abbey, St Thomas More's cell in the Tower of London, and a performance of The Taming of the Shrew at the Globe Theatre. The experience of a lifetime? Perhaps, though we hope to see many of our students return to visit us in the future.

Leonie, Teresa, and Stratford Caldecott

Photos are from our Facebook page. Watch out for announcements by the end of the year about next summer's programme!

See also the following posts:
Revival and Romanticism
Effects of the Reformation

1 comment:

  1. It looks like they all had a great time in Oxford visiting all those places and learning so much. Elena Theleman, Tyler Worthy, J Wann and Lorie go to Thomas More with me. It is so cool that they all got to go. I can't wait to hear about it from them!