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Heidi Cooper SCL Stained glass window of saints

We are grateful to Heidi Cooper SCL (left) for providing this information

Saints John Houghton
& Robert Lawrence

Did you know that we have our own local Saints who lived right on our doorstep?

Saints John Houghton and Robert Lawrence who we see depicted in a beautiful stained glass window at the back of St Mark's Church (right) lived approximately twelve miles away. They lived at Beauvale Priory, a few remains of which are still standing. If you go up a farmtrack at the back of the 'Horse and Groom' pub at Moorgreen it is possible to see the ruins. (They are on private land so permission has to be sought in order to go into the field where they are.)

There is also a small Shrine to the martyrs in the RC Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel at Hilltop, Eastwood.

Every year I join if possible the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nottingham on their annual Pilgrimage to Beauvale Priory. There is a procession to the ruins, the rosary, and a celebration of Mass. This pilgrimage takes place annually on the Sunday nearest to the 4th May. I took some photographs of the ruins themselves, the pilgrims procession, and the new memorial stone which was blessed by Bishop McMahon OP. This stone is on the site of the original high altar of the Carthusians Church. (Pictures below & at bottom of page. For more on Beauvale Priory on the Greasley Parish website CLICK.)

St John Houghton and Robert Lawrence were Carthusian Monks. The Carthusians were an order of Monks established by St Bruno during the 12th century, in France. They lived a hermits life, each with their own little house and garden within the “Charterhouse”, but coming together for Night prayer, Mass, Vespers in the Church and a meal shared in common on Sundays. The rest of the time they spent alone in silence. There is still a “Charterhouse” at Parkminster in Dorset where Carthusian Monks continue to live in the same way as St Bruno's monks.

Beauvale Priory

There were actually three Carthusian Monks martyred on the 4th May 1535; St John Houghton, St Robert Lawrence and St Augustine Webster. They were the first martyrs of the English Reformation.

John Houghton came from Essex and had studied at the University of Cambridge. He joined the London Charterhouse about 1515, was elected Prior of Beauvale in Nottinghamshire in 1531, and later the same year became Prior of London.

Robert Lawrence was a monk of the London Charterhouse who had succeeded John Houghton as Prior of Beauvale. Augustine Webster, a monk of Sheen Charterhouse near London, and also a graduate of Cambridge, had been Prior of Axholme in Lincolnshire since 1531.

Beauvale Priory

After the Act of Supremacy of 1534, which declared King Henry VIII to be supreme head of the Church in England, Lawrence and Webster went to London to consult with John Houghton about the religious issues involved. The three Priors approached Thomas Cromwell, the King's chief minister, and tried to get for their communities a form of the oath of supremacy that would be acceptable in conscience, but they failed and were committed to the Tower of London.

At their trial they pleaded not guilty of the treason with which they were charged and firmly maintained that the King could not be head of the Church. The jury deliberated at length without result, but were finally coerced by Cromwell's threats into bringing a verdict of guilty.

On the last day of their lives St Thomas More, from his prison window in the Tower, saw the martyrs being taken out to Tyburn, and turning to his daughter, said:

"Lo, dost thou not see, Meg, that these blessed fathers be now as cheerfully going to their deaths as bridegrooms to their marriage?"

Many of the Court are said to have been present as the monks were hanged, drawn and quartered. All three refused the pardon offered to them at the last moment if they would accept the King's supremacy.

May the blood of the Martyrs, and their prayers, assist in healing the wounds caused by our divisions!

Collect for the English Saints and Martyrs of the Reformation Era: 4th May:

Merciful God, who, when your Church on earth was torn apart by the ravages of sin, raised up men and women in this land who witnessed to their faith with courage and constancy: give to your Church that peace which is your will, and grant that those who have been divided on earth may be reconciled in heaven, and share together in the vision of your glory: through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Beauvale Priory

Beauvale Priory

Beauvale Priory

For more on Beauvale Priory on the Greasley Parish website CLICK