Candlemas Talk

24 01 2014

Updated 3/3/2014

Candlemas celebration, South Woodford

Candlemas celebration, South Woodford


Introduced by Fr Francis

Introduced by Fr Francis


I am delighted to say that I have been invited to give a talk at the Parish of St Anne Line in South Woodford, London, by the parish priest, Fr Francis Coveney. It will be on Sunday, 2nd February at 3:30pm in the parish hall behind the Church and I will be speaking on the subject of my book, Anne Line: Shakespeare’s Tragic Muse. If you are in London, do come along. The address is:

St Anne Line Parish, Grove Crescent, South Woodford. E18 2JR. It is a short walk from South Woodford Station on the Central Line so it is not difficult to get to. By road it is near the end of the M11.

The date, 2nd February, is highly significant. It is Candlemas day, known more formally as the Feast of the Presentation and in the past as the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady. It commemorates the time that Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the temple to offer the sacrifice required in the law and were greeted by the holy widow Anna and the prophet Simeon (Luke 2:22-38). Candlemas is also the day on which the holy widow Anne Line was arrested four hundred and thirteen years ago when there was a raid on the rooms she rented in Fetter Lane. It was the eve of her eighteenth wedding anniversary. The Jesuit Henry Garnet described what happened as follows in a letter written on 11 March:

The hour came when the room of the good lady was betrayed by some Judases (as they label many) on the day of the Purification of the Madonna and a furious band of men authorized by Popham entered. The priest was standing blessing the candles and one of that band nearly seized him when he ran in among the Catholics (the heretics take the guilt for bullying a lady Catholic of good faith as though she were a man). They tried to grab the shirt-tale of the tunic and it was torn as the priest made his escape. All the others were delivered to Popham. He commanded that the tunic be repaired but it stayed in rags. The source of this was the testimony of the other lady that was sentenced to death.

Making a point at South Woodford

Making a point at South Woodford

Popham was the Lord Chief Justice. The ‘other lady’ was Mrs Gage, nee Margaret Copley (brother of Anthony Copley, author of A Fig for Fortune, a Catholic response to Spenser’s Faerie Queen – new critical edition by Susannah Monta expected later this year or 2015). Garnet’s letter is written in Italian. The word ‘tunic’ from Garnet’s Italian ‘tonica’ could be translated as ‘alb’ and that is the obvious meaning. It was a white garment worn as a vestment. From the Jesuit John Gerard we learn that Fr Page rushed up stairs and was safely hidden in a priest-hole. This is interesting because the actual house of the arrest has never been identified but this detail suggests that this was a house used by Catholics for some time. We know that Anne Line had only recently moved there. We know also that two houses used by Catholics in Fetter Lane are mentioned in intelligence reports, one of which was owned by the Payne family. It has been suggested that the execution of Fr John Payne at Chelmsford in 1581 may have had a significant influence on Anne Line’s conversion. Later on she was known to the Roper sisters of the family that had hosted John Payne in Beckenham. So, without wishing to sound flippant, it is quite likely that she was arrested at the house of Payne on Fetter Lane, and on the day the Virgin Mary was told ‘and a sword shall pierce your own heart too’.

This is part of Garnet’s letter (digitally enhanced) just to give an idea of the difficulty of working with the source material:

The hour came...

The hour came…


[edit 4/2/14] This is an early and very scrappy transcription of mine of the whole quote above, included some notes:

Hora la stanza de questa buona Signora fu per qualche Giuda [Judases] (Come nd marcano molti) tradita et cosi nel giorno della Purificano della Madonna c’entro [entered] una furia di gente autorizata dal Poppamo, et il sacerdote stando benedicendo le candele, uno di quella brigata l’havea quasi le mani adosso [addosso – siezed] ma urodei [rodare – run in?] Cathci (li heretici mettono la colpa sopru [sopruso-bully] una Signora Cathci se bene cre [cre-do?] do ch’era un huomo) lo tiro per il lembo [shirt-tail] della tonica [tunica], et lo strai: [strai-cio (straccio-cloth, rag)] cio di modo che il sacerdote fuggi et fiascose [fiasco-failure] tutti le altri erano [were] presi [taken] et menati [delivered] a Poppamo. Il quale cdmando che nd si refac [repair] esse [they] quella [that] to: [to-nica-tunic] nica ma che restasse cosi stracciata, p che [perche-because] fosse un testimonia cd radi [radice-root/source] quell altra Signora quale era ancora lei disegnata ella morte,

See the comments for a better transcription by Joe Gobbini

MCD 24/01/2014

Update 3/3/2014
I thought that the talk went really well but the confirmation was that I sold out of copies of the book at the signing afterwards and had to resort to taking orders. People seem surprised that the material is so strong. Well I certainly think so, but it is great to be able to present it directly as well as in a book. On this occasion I tried to focus on the historical research because members of the Essex Recusant Society were in the audience but in a few days time I will be talking to students at the St Anne Line Junior School in Basildon which will present another challenge. I am advised that this age-group are quite unfazed by gory details.


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10 responses

24 01 2014
Andrea Campana

Beautiful, Martin, and excellent reporting. Do you know anything about the Payne family, perhaps where they were from?
Andrea

25 01 2014
Caedwalla

Thank-you Andrea. The priest John Payne came from Northamptonshire according to Challoner. Payne was not an uncommon name so it may be that the house in Fetter Lane is quite unconnected to his particular family. I just don’t know at this stage, but so often with the Catholics it turns out that a network is based on family connections.

3 02 2014
Joe Gobbini

Father Garnet’s Italian is very good, but your transcription of it is mistaken in several points. Here is a more correct transcription.

Hora la stanza di questa buona Signora fu per qualche Giuda (come nõ mancano molti) tradita et cosí nel giorno della Purif.zn della Madonna c’entrò una furia di gente autorizata dal Poppamo, et il sacerdote stando benedicendo le candele, uno di quella brigata l’havea quasi le mani adosso ma uno dei Cath.ci (li heretici mettono la colpa sopra una Signora Cath.ca se bene cre=do ch’era un huomo) lo tirò per il lembo della tonica, et lo strac=ciò di modo che il sacerdote fuggí et si ascose tutti li altri erano presi et menati a Poppamo. Il quale cõmandò che nõ si rifac=esse quella to=nica ma che restasse cosi stracciata, p.che fosse un testimonio cõtra di quell’altra Signora quale era ancora lei disegnata alla morte

The tilde replaces an n or an m, thus nõ is ‘non’, cõtra is ‘contra’, cõmandò is ‘commandò’. The equal sign (which you mistook for a colon) is used in Italian when a word is interrupted at the end of the line and continued in the next line; thus rifac=esse is the single word ‘rifacesse’, etc. Fr. Garnet wrote in haste and it is often hard to tell an n from an r, an s from an f, but knowledge of the language helps. So for instance what you transcribe ‘fiascose’ is really ‘si ascose’ (he hid himself) and has nothing to do with fiascos. I hope this will help you. You are right in saying that working with manuscript sources is very hard.

3 02 2014
mcdodwell

Thank-you, Joe Gobbini, that is helpful. But cut me some slack! I am not a native Italian speaker and this was a rough transcript dug out from a couple of years ago. I didn’t do too badly, though I should have seen ‘si ascose’ given the context. And you are a little unfair over the equals sign. If you actually look at the document you will see that Garnet does in fact use a colon to signify the continuation of a word over a line-break as I correctly interpreted several times in my transcript (i.e. to-nica). What matters in the end is the translation and I would be interested if you have any further comments on that.

3 02 2014
Joe Gobbini

I’ll give you all the slack you want; I meant to help, not to grade. The translation is fine. There is only one point that perplexes me: the identity of the man whose ‘tonica’ was torn. To me it makes more sense if it was a member of Popham’s posse, not the priest. Say this man was about to seize the priest, but one of the Catholic worshippers grabbed him by a corner of his outer garment and held him long enough to prevent him from doing so. So the priest could make his escape. This is how I reconstruct the event, but Father Garnet’s text – I mean the original, I’m not worrying about the translation – is not clear at all. One may interpret it either way: that the priest’s liturgical garment was torn, or that a posse’s man’s secular gown was torn. Today ‘tonica’ only means a clergyman’s talar or a monk’s habit, but in the 16th century it also meant the long gowns that laymen used to wear.

If I had been in England I’d have loved to listen to your lecture. What a fascinating subject! Shakespeare living in what was in effect a police state, having to please his royal and noble patrons, striving to avoid the censure of the bigoted puritans who would soon close down the theaters, and hiding his genius and his faith under riddles and code words. I just ordered a copy of your book. It seems to be selling like hot cakes, because Amazon USA has run out of it and Amazon UK has only three copies left.

4 02 2014
mcdodwell

Well my scrappy notes have drawn some informed comment so I am happy about that. And I am delighted that you have ordered a copy of the biography. I think you will enjoy it.

If we just had Fr Garnet’s letter then perhaps there would be room for doubt about who was wearing the the tonica. But we have two other sources for this incident, namely, Champney’s Annals (used by Challoner) and Fr John Gerard’s autobiography written around 1608. Champney tells us that a pursuivant called Marriot testified that he saw a man dressed in white who he presumed was a priest, and Gerard tells us that the priest took off his vestment to try and blend in with the crowd. The white vestment was highly significant as evidence that a priest had in fact been present and was therefore crucial to the case against Anne Line. This link between the fate of Anne Line and a priest’s vestment was so clear that ten years later Shakespeare can stage the incident in The Tempest where Stephano steals garments (‘trumpery’) hanging on a line and addresses the line directly as ‘Mistress Line’ (which would be the way Anne Line was addressed in the court-room). You need to read the book…

3 02 2014
Andrea Campana

I have noticed that in English tracts written by the Jesuits, who had been studying abroad for most of their lives, the writer will often leave out a letter, such as the above example of the “n” in “contra” as replaced by the tilde. At first, I thought they were shortening words to save on printing costs, but now I’m wondering if they were so used to writing in Latin and Italian that they would simply repeat the rule when writing in English.

4 02 2014
William Tighe

“but now I’m wondering if they were so used to writing in Latin and Italian that they would simply repeat the rule when writing in English.”

No; one finds this same use of the tilde constantly in 16th-Century English (and earlier, as well as into the early 17th Century).

4 02 2014
Andrea Campana

Interesting. Thanks!

4 02 2014
Joe Gobbini

Oh, now I understand.

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