Dutiful and devoted readers will recall that Ickford was only a couple of miles along the River Thame from the recusant centre at Waterperry. Ickford church has a number of monuments to the Phillips family, who seem to have oscillated between being Recusants and Church Papists. Fr Thomas Phillips, in the first part of the eighteenth century, joined the Society of Jesus; I feel he was a man after my own heart, because he developed a great love for teaching the Humanities. When his superiors refused his plea to be allowed to teach a course in that subject, in a fit of pique he left the Society and acquired the patronage of King Charles III. The King secured him a canonry at Tongres and a dispensation to apply its income to his work in the English Mission. He ended his life chaplaining in great Catholic houses, such as that of the Earls of Shrewsbury; among his works was a lengthy biography of Cardinal Pole. Perhaps we could see him as a link between the dangerous recusancy of the seventeenth century and the first glimmerings of the catholic revival which was to happen in the nineteenth; and as a precursor of learned gentleman clergy such as Lingard and Tierney and Oliver.
Well, it was a very jolly walk that Pam and I had, despite the bulls; I wonder what those celibate clergy over there get up to on their days off. A friend of mine in the clergy of Kerry tells me that when his confreres meet, cards, nicotine, and whiskey feature large. Doesn't seem to me as much fun as matrimony.