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WHEN ENGLISH CATHOLIC CHRISTIANS HAD TO ATTEND MASS SECRETLY IN PRIVATE HOUSES FOR FEAR OF THE DEATH PENALTY

09 Jan

AFTER THE REFORMATION: RECORDS AND FASCINATING OLD BUILDINGS BEAR WITNESS TO THE SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS WHEN CATHOLICS WERE DRIVEN INTO HIDING IN PROTESTANT ENGLAND. (AN EXCERPT FROM AN ARTICLE IN ‘THE UNIVERSE’ 23/30.12, 2012.)

The Old Mass House at Egton, Yorks was built in the 16th century, and consisted of one living room and two bedrooms on the ground floor. Above these was the oratory, measuring 15 feet by 10 feet. Its greatest height is only five and a half feet.

The oratory was originally approached by a step ladder from the living room. There was a trap-door in the ceiling through which people assembled in the living room could see the priest celebrating Mass. On the other side of the oratory was a secret trap-door through which the priest could escape in times of danger.

A communicating door gave access to two other similar cottages, one of which stood on the site of the present Egton Church of England school. When the oratory was discovered, the calice, vestments, a rosary, and other things were found just as Fr Nicholas Postgate left them. Fr Postgate was martyred at York on 7th August 1679. He was arrested at Littlebeck, near Whitby, whilst baptising a child at the house of Matthew Lyth, by Reeves, an exciseman. Reeves never received the £ 20 reward offered for information about priests, and he drowned himself in a small brook, which to this day is known as “Devil’s Dump”.

 
 

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