Trip to Canterbury, 2009
“When April with its sweet showers dost soothe the sweet showers of May, then people long to go on Pilgrimage.” So said Chaucer in the 14th Century in his great classic tale of Pilgrimage to Canterbury, and so with a joyous heart and a coach full of parishioners we made a happy trip to the oldest Church foundation in England – Canterbury.
Canterbury takes its importance for us as Catholics and also for Anglicans, as their Primate church, from the journey made by St Augustine in 597 at the bequest of Pope Gregory to go and evangelise the Angles that he found in a slave market in Rome. It is also very significant for us in the Parish of St Anselm as St Anselm (1033-21 April 1109), as well as being a Doctor of the Church, was also Archbishop of Canterbury and is buried there.
Canterbury, by the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket in 1170 (who incidentally had great connections with the Priory at Merton, the ruins of which are under the Savacentre in Colliers Wood) became the most visited shrine in England and was to do so until the dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530’s after Henry VIII split with Rome.
We had Mass in the underground crypt and remembered our great patron and the evangelisation through his writings for which he is most famous. For us too it was a chance to remember that the land in which our parish is situated was once annexed to the Parish of Bec in Normandy which was the Mother House for Anselm. He was part of the Benedictine Abbey there and was its abbot for a period of time before moving to England.
Father Will, Father Gary and members of the Parish enjoyed a wonderful celebration Mass in the crypt of St Anselm with music, supplied by Martine Mercer and Roger Burton, and we finished off with tea, memories and walkabouts in the beautiful city that is one of England’s great spiritual homes.
On Thursday 1st August 2013 some 52 members of the parish accompanied by our parish team, including Fr William, Fr John, Fr Chris, Tom Gately and Martine Mercer set out for a summer feast and pilgrimage to a major seat of English Catholic History – Arundel Cathedral and Castle, the seat of the Duke of Norfolk.
Arundel became the setting for one of the most notable stories of Catholic bravery during the eventful years of English Reformation when Philip Howard relinquished his life reminding us that “the more afflictions we undergo for christ in this world the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next”. He was imprisoned and executed in the Tower by his own cousin, Queen Elizabeth.
For the journey itself, we could not have had a more noble day, sunshine all the way. Father Will celebrated Mass in Arundel Cathedral at noon with Fr John and Fr Chris and Stephen de la Bedoyere gave us a stirring talk on the life of St Philip Howard as we gazed on his tomb now situated within the Cathedral to coincide with his canonisation in 1970. Following Mass we were given a guided tour by our excellent guide, Oliver Hawkins.
We then retired to the Castle and grounds to enjoy our picnic lunches in glorious sunshine and to enjoy the beautiful gardens of the castle. Happy groups of St Anselm’s parish members could be seen in small groups enjoying the atmosphere of the setting and being transported by the buggies around the large grounds of the castle. One or two intrepid travellers traversed to the town and joined us back on board for the return journey, all exhausted, not only by the heat of the day, but after a truly magnificent adventure! The outing was a great success and thanks in no small part to our Parish Administrator, Martine who took the lead in organising, booking the coach, Mass at the Cathedral and visit to the Castle and making sure the clergy, parishioners and all had a stress-free and well planned day. She is not undaunted by the process and promises to organise more such days in the future.
Minster and Broadstairs 2014
Minster Abbey is a special place of worship and we were warmly welcomed by the Sisters of St Benedict on this annual outing in August.
In the 20th century the Priory was restored and a third religious community came to this tiny hamlet. It happened in 1937 almost by accident in searching for a place to flee from Eichstatt in Bavaria, the sisters managed by fair means or foul (smuggling money and many amazing stories) to flee Nazi occupied Germany and set up this community here. This unbroken tradition means that this religious house has been the longest inhabited community in Britain, going back as it does to Saxon times.
The day itself was superb and the setting for our Mass officiated by Father Will and Father Chris was breath-taking in its simplicity. Surrounded by wild flower meadows and high up in the upper room of an old barn, we celebrated and reflected. The Sisters provided hospitality afterwards and soon we were on our way to a lovely lunch and walkabout (and for some enthusiastic members of the party, a dip in the delightful place that is Broadstairs). If one forgets the joy of the English seaside then a trip to Broadstairs is recommended. Special cafes, lovely service, leisurely walks around the town, ice cream a-plenty, it was to prove a perfect place to spend the afternoon. The coach returned to Tooting after some vibrant singing of old and perfect songs (who can forget Father Will wallowing in mud!). Prayers, reflection, fun, we are ready for another adventure and another year – God willing.
These events have become an annual and really appreciated part of the Parish diary and are highlighted by fellowship and friendship. Long may they continue?
St Augustine’s Abbey and Broadstairs, 2015
On July 30th St Anselm’s Parish went on its annual day pilgrimage and outing. Following the success of its trip to Broadstairs last year a second visit was felt appropriate but this time celebrating Holy Mass at the Shrine of St Augustine in the Pugin Church in Ramsgate. We were welcomed by Father Marcus Holden and his hospitality team provided us with light refreshments.
This important church is built near the spot where St Augustine landed for the first time in AD 597. This momentous arrival was to shape the story of Christianity in England. This church has been declared England’s Newest Shrine to go on pilgrimage, so it was appropriate that we attend with prayerful heart. We were not disappointed as the service in the Pugin church was inspirational under the direction of Father Marcus Holden and Fr Will.
The church too is a masterpiece of design, being the brain child of Pugin who, in the short life time as an architect, has left an important and dynamic mark on the image of what we think of as being British. (Look at the Gothic elements of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and you will see his work.) He reinvented the process of design construction allowing for the most up to date Victorian practices to be developed and this church is an ideal church for everyone to attend and feel once more in touch with the spirit of the early evangelisation of the people of Britain. It was appropriate after our own call to Evangelisation (the Vigil Service called for by the Bishops of England and Wales) in early July that we went once more on a pilgrimage of renewal.
In the afternoon we travelled to Broadstairs for walking, fun and fellowship and the journey home made us realise how much we owe to St Augustine who brought to Britain the faith enshrined in law, learning and the written word for the first time since the Romans. We owe him a great debt of gratitude and joy.
Hever Castle 2016
2016 is the year of the English Garden and where better could the parishioners of St. Anselm’s enjoy for their annual summer outing on August 4th than here in Hever Castle in the “Garden of England” in the County of Kent – the showcase of the English Country garden.
Join us for a moment on this special day and be transported back to the beauty of the English countryside, where history, natural beauty and the spirit of tranquillity transcends the centuries. One place in Hever in particular where all the elements combine is the beautiful English rose garden inspired by the poetry of one of America’s greatest poets Emily Dickenson- one of her poems comes to mind:
“Nobody knows this little Rose
It might a pilgrim be
Did I not take it from the ways
And lift it up to thee.
Only a Bee will miss it
Only a Butterfly,
Hastening from far journey
On its breast to lie
Only a Bird will wonder
Only a Breeze will sigh
Ah Little Rose – how easy
For such as thee to die!”
The day began with a departure from Tooting Bec at ten o clock, with Fr. William blessing us on our journey and praying that we would remember those unable to attend, asking us to reflect and enjoy the beauty of the day to come. The journey down was quickly achieved and soon we were enjoying the beauties of Hever. If you have not been there treat yourself, it is only 30 miles from London but the countryside and the natural beauty and the Kentish landscape is all around. To then have the pleasure of a fairy tale image of a Castle (that has stood on this site since the 13th century) as our focal point made us realise that a special treat was in store.
This famous castle once the home of two Queens of England – the ill-fated Ann Boleyn and the clever survivor of Henry VIII, Anne of Cleaves, is a testimony to the skill of the English Craftsman. Restored by William Waldorf Astor in the early part of the 20th century it was the setting for many famous parties. Its Tudor magnificence is fully restored and the picture collection is now one of the best and most influential (short of the National Portrait Gallery) of Tudor portraits. These special improvements have been brought about by the Guthrie family who have invested millions in its restoration since 1983, making it a sanctuary for wild life and for us as visitors and new generations to come.
Fun, frolics, rain (what summer would be without its showers.) Father Will on the lake with three ladies of the Parish chaperoned by one other gentlemen rowing around frantically trying to enter safe harbour to avoid the shower- “too late I hear you say” …. You would be right! Conversations, bags of shared food and goodies, the shopping and the oohs and ahhs….
Then more tea, coffee, sandwiches the odd glass of Vino- (that splinter group that went to the Henry VIII) and soon it was arrival back at Tooting Bec at half six, exhausted and ready for bed! It was a fantasy day out and a day to savour the joys of this England.
# Mrs. Guthrie the present owner is both a fan of Roses and of Emily Dickinson… Hence the connections that inspired the gardens… Check them out on Hever website… awesome.