Monday, 3 December 2012

Gallows Hill, Warwick

A claim which my own family forebears have made for a number of generations is that Blessed William Freeman, from Menthorpe, Yorkshire, is our ancestor. I have spoken about him before on this blog; he was hung, drawn and quartered at Warwick, 13th August 1595, for his priesthood. He was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929.
Two others were to suffer here on 16th July 1604; Fr John Sugar from near Wolverhampton, hung, drawn and quartered, and Robert Grissold, layman from Rowington, Warwickshire, hung. Both were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.
Recently I went to find the site of the gallows and was unexpectedly helped in this endeavour by a man who lives in the area. The site of the gallows, which is presently unmarked in any way, is at Grid reference: SP298637. This ancient gallows site is south of Warwick town on the old Banbury Road, a stretch of which is still called "Gallows Hill". I took both the above photos of the site, looking north-west, towards Warwick, whose castle you can just make out in the distance. Follow Gallows Hill Road south-east, the site is on the right hand side of the road more of less on the very crest of the hill, and right opposite the drive of Heathcote Hill Farm.
There used to be processions from Warwick to this site up until the 1950s, or even into the 1960s. It would certainly be fitting for some memorial plaque to stand near the place.
These men received the wounds of England's rebellion into their flesh, so that Christ's love would still be present in this land, and so that the Faith would have a home here. What tremendous forebears we have.
Blessed William Freeman,
Blessed John Sugar,
Blessed Robert Grissold, thank you for the light of your witness and your prayers before the Throne of Grace.


David of Warwick said...

In 2013 supported by local priest Canon Stewart a group of local residents successfully opposed a development of 250 houses that would have affected the site of this martyrdom. Sadly, we are now faced with a new application for up to 450 houses which will also affect this site of pilgrimage. It is only through a concerted effort we could defeat this incursion into this historic site,so I do hope your readers will write to Warwick District Council before 25th June to voice their objections to this development - number W/14/0681

Philip Batt said...

We are going to revive the old custom of having a short pilgrimage to this site in memory of the 3 Catholic martyrs. The procession will start from St. Mary Immaculate Church, West Street, Warwick at 2.30 p.m. on Sunday 16th July.
Robert Grissold and John Sugar's feast day is the next day.
Do join us.

Fr Richard Aladics said...

Philip, thanks for letting me know about the procession. I'd love to come but would need to get a supply as it is a Sunday. Fr R