Thursday, 19 June 2014

A household of faith

No pilgrimage to the gallows site in Dorchester is complete without also visiting the Dorset village of Chideock. Here, the Arundell family kept the Faith through the darkest part of the Penal days. The Arundell family of Cornwall became the ownners of Chideock Castle in 1479. They remained Catholic as the sixteenth century progressed. In the late 1500s Sir John Arundell was imprisoned various times for recusancy and for nurturing a household of Faith in his castle. All the martyrs who were executed at Dorchester had been a part of this centre of formation and evangelisation. The castle was destoyed folowing the Civil War. 
In 1786 the Weld family of Lulworth, also Catholics, bought the Chideock estate and, in 1872, a new Church, honouring Our Lady and the martyrs was opened just north of the village.
This exquisite church is now a beautiful place of pilgrimage, its interior adorned with images of the martyrs of both Dorset and beyond.
The site of the castle, about half a mile from this Church, and entered via Ruins Lane, is now just an open field overlookiing the village. In the 1950s a cross was erected in the centre of the castle site to honour all those who were nurtured in this former household of faith.
The course of the original moat can still be clearly picked out, but there is not one stone standing on another. It is now a very partoral scene with the field given over to ewes with their lambs. However, the site is a wonderful place to pray the Rosary and to ask for the new evangelisation of this island. With such a great cloud of witnesses as our forbears, let our endeavours not fall silent.


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