A visit to Arrowsmith House

A group from St Francis Xavier’s Church Liverpool visited Arrowsmith House on the 29th August and celebrated mass there with parish priest Denis Blackledge SJ.

Tradition has it that St Edmund Arrowsmith SJ was captured on the moss nearby after celebrating his last mass at the house and he was taken to Lancaster Castle to be hung, drawn and quartered on 28 August 1628.

The grade II* listed heritage building, which dates from 1580, is in the village of Brindle or Hoghton near Preston and is now owned by Director of Music at St Wilfrid's, Maria Hall. Her parents, Cyril and Marie Hall, bought Arrowsmith House half a century ago. Cyril died about 15 years ago, but Marie carried on living in the house, and Maria, their only child, stayed nearby, until her mother died a couple of years ago.

She then took over the house. Trained as a teacher, she taught in a local Catholic primary school. Maria is also a musician, and for many years has been organist at St Wilfrid’s parish in Preston. After further studies in liturgy and catechetics, she now works freelance in formation and consultancy for parishes and schools in liturgy, music and religious education.

Maria loves to welcome small groups for pilgrimage to her home, Arrowsmith House. An upper room in the house, traditionally the spot where St Edmund said mass, is laid out for the celebration of the Eucharist, which is celebrated there one day a month by the local parish of St Joseph's, Brindle.

During the visit of St Francis Xavier’s group, Maria led a moving reflection from the words of Arrowsmith’s trial before mass was celebrated. The day concluded with a delicious lunch at the Hospital Inn.  Everyone agreed it had been a memorable and enjoyable day.

Fr Denis Blackledge SJ said: "When I was parish priest at St Wilfrid's Preston 1988-96 I used to take small groups for mass there, and now that I'm parish priest at St Francis Xavier's Liverpool it seemed a good idea to do the same from here. It makes a good day out for a minibus load of folk, and they are touched by the privilege of celebrating mass where one of our Forty Martyrs of England and Wales risked his life celebrating mass. We try to do it as near as possible to his feast day on 28th August. The fact that St Edmund was a Jesuit makes it a double bonus!"