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West Midlands - Day 2

Oratory House & Cardinal Newmans grave (B16 8UE)



Church: The Birmingham Oratory is an English Catholic religious community of the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, located in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham. The community was founded in 1849 by the Blessed John Henry Newman, C.O., the first house of that congregation in England.

Address: Hagley Road, Birmingham B16 8UE, UK (52.38483, -2.00464)
English Heritage Building ID: 217208 (Grade II, 1952)

Place
The living quarters of the Birmingham Oratory, called the Oratory House (1850–51), fronting Hagley Road, served as Cardinal Newman’s home from 1852 to 1890 (except for four years spent in Ireland). His personal papers are located here. The Birmingham Oratory was to play a major role in the life of J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of “The Lord of the Rings,” who was a parishioner there for about nine years during his childhood. J. R. R. Tolkien lived at Fern Cottage in Rednal at the age of 12, and his mother died there in 1904. He wandered widely around the Lickeys and later recalled: “When I think of my mother’s death ... worn out with persecution, poverty, and, largely consequent, disease, in the effort to hand on to us small boys the faith, and remember the tiny bedroom she shared with us in rented rooms in a postman’s cottage at Rednal, where she died alone, too ill for viaticum, I find it very hard and bitter, when my children stray away.” The body of Cardinal Newman was buried in the small Roman Catholic cemetery at Rednal, by the Oratory country house. Attempts to move his body to Birmingham Oratory, near Birmingham’s city centre, as he was being considered for canonisation, failed due to the absence of any mortal remains.



Life
Who: John Henry Newman Cong. Orat. (February 21, 1801 – August 11, 1890), aka Cardinal Newman and Blessed John Henry Newman and Ambrose St. John (June 29, 1815 – May 24, 1875)
In accordance with his express wishes, Cardinal John Henry Newman was buried in the grave of his lifelong friend Ambrose St. John (1815-1876.) The pall over the coffin bore the motto that Newman adopted for use as a cardinal, “Cor ad cor loquitur” (Heart speaks to heart), which William Barry, writing in the “Catholic Encyclopedia” (1913), traces to Francis de Sales and sees as revealing the secret of Newman’s "eloquence, unaffected, graceful, tender, and penetrating.” Ambrose St. John had become a Roman Catholic at around the same time as Newman, and the two men have a joint memorial stone inscribed with the motto Newman had chosen, “Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem” (Out of shadows and phantasms into the truth), which Barry traces to Plato’s allegory of the cave.
Source: Newman's Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint, By John Cornwell

Housman’s & The Clock House, Bournheath (B61 9HY)

House: Housman’s was the home of A.E. Housman, the poet, during childhood. Very simple but attractive XVIII century, 2 storey brick farmhouse with roof of old tiles. Sashes in cased frames.
Address: Valley Road, Bournheath, Worcestershire B61 9HY, UK (52.35841, -2.07569)
English Heritage Building ID: 155679 (Grade II, 1972)



Place
Housman’s is a private home, originally The Valley House, an early Georgian farmhouse, part of the Clock House estate. Here in 1859, A.E. Housman was born, just before the family moved to Perry Hall. The Clock House once stood where there are now several modern houses, behind a long brick wall. Originally XVII century, it was at different times home to three generations of Housmans. A.E. Housmans lived there in his teens and with his brothers and sisters enjoyed the large garden (now private), country life and long walks. The high ground a few hundreds yards from the Clock House was known to the Housman childrens as Mount Pisgah. It commands extensive views including Bredon Hill, the Malverns, the Abberley Hills and to the west the Shropshire Clees which were to Housmans the “blue remembered hills” behind which the sun set. He romanticised about the land beyond them and it became the setting for “A Shropshire Lad.” It also overlooks Bromsgrove and the spire of St. Johns is a marker for where Housmans enjoyed his early years at Perry Hall and to where he walked daily to school.



Life
Who: Alfred Edward Housman (March 26, 1859 – April 30, 1936), aka A. E. Housman
A. E. Housman was a classical scholar and poet, best known to the general public for his cycle of poems “A Shropshire Lad.” Lyrical and almost epigrammatic in form, the poems wistfully evoke the dooms and disappointments of youth in the countryside. Their beauty, simplicity and distinctive imagery appealed strongly to late Victorian and Edwardian taste, and to many early XX century English composers (beginning with Arthur Somervell) both before and after WWI. Through their song-settings, the poems became closely associated with that era, and with Shropshire itself. The eldest of seven children, Housman was born at Valley House in Fockbury, a hamlet on the outskirts of Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, to Sarah Jane (née Williams, married 1June 7, 1858 in Woodchester, Gloucester) and Edward Housman (whose family came from Lancaster), and was baptised on 24 April 1859 at Christ Church, in Catshill. “I was born in a house called The Little Valley (to distinguish it from The Valley Farm on the other side of the road) about two miles north west of Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, in the parish of Catshill, near the hamlet of Bourneheath.” Naiditch demonstrates from census results that A.E. Housman is mistaken, and that he was born at the Valley House, near the Clock House, in Fockbury. “The one (house) I liked best (Fockbury House, known as The Clock House), and lived from 1873 to 1877, has been utterly ruined.”
Source: Alfred Edward Housman: recollections, by Katharine Elizabeth Symons

Perry Hall, Bromsgrove (B61 7JZ)

School: The former home of Old Bromsgrovian A.E. Housman, the only mixed boarding house, the only exclusively Sixth Form boarding house and the only house in Bromsgrove town itself; Housman Hall houses one hundred girl and boy boarders aged between sixteen and eighteen.

Address: Kidderminster Road, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire B61 7JZ, UK (52.33594, -2.07239)
Website: http://www.bromsgrove-school.co.uk/housman-hall.aspx
English Heritage Building ID: 155719 (Grade II, 1952)



Place
The house is possibly of XVII century origin but present building is of XVIII century red brick - work with sandstone plinth and two semi-circular arched doorways having (probably XVII century) studded boarded doors with strap hinges. 2 storeys, 3 windows left hand portion has XIX century Gothic headed lights in painted woodwork, and hipped roof of old tiles. Right hand lower portion is of similar brick- work but has square headed casements and gabled end facing the road. Part old tiles and part machine tiles. Now a residential hall belonging to Bromsgrove School, it was built in 1828 as a house for John Adam’s, a distant relative of A.E. Housman. The poet’s father, Edward, set up office there as a solicitor and it was the family home where Housman lived until he was 18. With his brothers and sisters Housman enjoyed its extensive gardens and had a perfect childhood. But the idyll was shattered when his mother died on his birthday in 1871 and in increasing financial difficulties, Edward moved his family to the Clock House. For most of the XX century Perry Hall was an hotel.



Life
Who: Alfred Edward Housman (March 26, 1859 – April 30, 1936), aka A. E. Housman
“From 1860 to 1873, and again from 1877 to 1882, I lived at Perry Hall in Bromsgrove, at the foot of the church hill.” A.E. Housman was educated at Bromsgrove School (Worcester Rd, Bromsgrove B61 7DU), where he revealed his academic promise and won prizes for his poems. A.E. Housman’s poem "Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists?,” written after the trial of Oscar Wilde, addressed more general injustice towards homosexuals. In the poem the prisoner is suffering "for the colour of his hair,” a natural quality that, in a coded reference to homosexuality, is reviled as "nameless and abominable" (recalling the legal phrase peccatum illud horribile, inter Christianos non-nominandum, "the sin so horrible, not to be named amongst Christians.”) Despite acclaim as both a scholar and poet in his lifetime, Housman lived as a recluse, rejecting honours and avoiding the public eye. He travelled frequently to France where he enjoyed reading “books which were banned in Britain as pornographic.” A fellow described him as being “descendend from a long line of maiden aunts.” He died in 1936 in Cambridge and is buried as St. Laurence’s Church (Ludlow, Shropshire SY8).
Source: Perry Hall Hotel, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. A Short History of the Hotel and Its Association with A.E. Housman

Ragley Hall, Alcester (B49 5NJ)

House: The country estate of George Seymour (1871-1940), Earl of Yarmouth and 7th Marquess of Hertford. Seymour inherited Ragley Hall in 1912 but never lived there, preferring the high life in London. Ragley Hall is a mid XVIII century park landscaped by Lancelot Brown, with late XIX century formal gardens and pleasure grounds laid out by Robert Marnock.

Address: Arrow, Warwickshire B49 5NJ, UK (52.198, -1.89599)
Phone: +44 1789 762090
Website: www.ragley.co.uk
English Heritage Building ID: 305020 (Grade I, 1967)



Place
Ragley Hall is located south of Alcester, Warwickshire, eight miles (13 km) west of Stratford-upon-Avon. It is the ancestral seat of the Marquess of Hertford and is one of the stately homes of England. The house, which was designed by Dr Robert Hooke, was built for the Edward Conway, 1st Earl of Conway and completed in 1680. The Great Hall is thought to have been decorated by James Wyatt in 1780. Financial instability of the Seymour family left the house threatened with demolition more than once. In 1912, following the death of Hugh Seymour, 6th Marquess of Hertford, the estate's trustees recommended that the house be demolished. However, during World War I and World War II, the house found use as a military hospital. Hugh Seymour, 8th Marquess of Hertford, who inherited Ragley Hall from his uncle in 1940, fought to save it after the war. It was refurbished between 1956 and 1958, when it became one of the first stately homes opened to the public. In 1983, the painter Graham Rust completed a huge mural including pets, friends and family members which is known as "The Temptation" and is exhibited on the Southern staircase. Ragley was the site of the Jerwood Sculpture Park, opened in July 2004. The Park included works that won the Jerwood Sculpture Prizes, and the work of Dame Elisabeth Frink, among others. However the site was closed in April 2012.



Life
Who: George Francis Alexander Seymour, 7th Marquess of Hertford (October 20, 1871 – February 16, 1940)
George Seymour, 7th Marquess of Hertford, was the son of Hugh Seymour, 6th Marquess of Hertford. Seymour became a Lieutenant in the Warwickshire regiment before joining the Black Watch. He became Earl of Yarmouth in 1884 and the 7th Marquess of Hertford in 1901. In 1895 he arrived at the sugar district of Mackay, Queensland, Australia, taking up a small mixed farm. Despite his senior rank and status, the local population showed him little respect, scandalised by his behaviour. The local paper called him a ‘skirt dancer’ and local memory is of him performing dances in a sequined outfit with butterfly wings and of hosting male-only parties on his isolated property. Seymour seems to have returned to England for Queen Victoria's Jubilee then travelled to the US, where he married Alice C. Thaw of Pittsburgh on 2April 7, 1903; their childless marriage was annulled in 1908 on the grounds of non-consummation. Alice Cornelia Thaw (January 2, 1880 – May 8, 1955) was an American philanthropist, born to William Thaw, Sr. and Mary Sibbet Copley. She was the younger sister of Harry Kendall Thaw. Lord Hertford filed for bankruptcy in 1910 and inherited Ragley Hall and its large Warwickshire estate in 1912, but never lived there, preferring the high life in London. Lord Hertford died in 1940, aged 68 and childless, and his titles passed to his nephew, Hugh Seymour.
Source: Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon. Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History Vol.1: From Antiquity to the Mid-Twentieth Century: From Antiquity to the Mid-twentieth Century Vol 1 (p. 403). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

Queer Places, Vol. 2.2: Retracing the Steps of LGBTQ people around the World
ISBN-13: 978-1544067568 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1544067569
CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/6980566
Amazon print: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1544067569/?
tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IZ1KZBO/?tag=elimyrevandra-20

Queer Places, Vol. 2.2 (Color Edition): Retracing the Steps of LGBTQ people around the World
ISBN-13: 978-1535453332 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1535453338
CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/6444429
Amazon print: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1535453338/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IZ1KZBO/?tag=elimyrevandra-20


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