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Norwich conference looks at Anglia Catholic history 

A one-day conference looking at the history of Catholicism in East Anglia since the Reformation was held at Norwich Catholic Cathedral on Saturday June 12, to help mark the 40th anniversary of the Diocese of East Anglia.

The conference, attended by over 80 delegates, was opened by Bishop Alan Hopes, who told the conference that a copy of the Catholic East Anglia book was presented to Pope Francis at a recent general audience. Pope Francis replied in English, wishing the Diocese ‘Happy Birthday!’
 
Dr Francis Young’s paper concentrated on the sixteenth-century Suffolk recusant Roger Martin (1527-1615) of Long Melford and his recent discovery of a prayer book that may have belonged to Martin and later to the recusant Rookwood family of Coldham Hall.
 
Dr Young then read, on behalf of Joy Rowe, a paper on a mission in eighteenth-century East Anglia that crossed the border between Norfolk and Suffolk and served a wide area, and which is the ancestor of present-day Catholic parishes in Stowmarket, Diss and Thetford.
 
Professor John Charmley’s paper focussed on the development of Catholicism in Victorian East Anglia, when the region was part of the vast and unwieldy Diocese of Northampton (established in 1850). Northampton was famously described by Cardinal Manning as ‘the dead diocese’ as it was so vast in geographical area yet contained so few churches and priests.
 
Jonathan Hooton spoke about the chapel of Notre Dame High School in Norwich, one of the architectural ‘hidden gems’ of Norwich and the Diocese.
 
During the afternoon a new history of the Diocese, Catholic East Anglia: a history of the Catholic faith in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, published by Gracewing Press, was launched.
 
The launch of Catholic East Anglia was attended by Sir Henry and Lady Bedingfeld of Oxburgh Hall, who graciously gave their permission for a painting at Oxburgh to be reproduced for the front cover of the book. The painting depicts the Bedingfeld family sheltering under the mantle of Our Lady while scenes behind depict war and exile; Dr Young explained that he chose the image because it alludes to the primary patron of the Diocese, Our Lady of Walsingham, but also makes the point that the history of a Diocese is a history of people rather than buildings or institutions.
 
A new society dedicated to promoting knowledge of the history of Catholicism in East Anglia was also established at the conference.
 
The East Anglian Catholic History Society will produce a quarterly newsletter, host talks and seminars, and offer assistance and advice to parish history groups, whether established or just setting themselves up.
 
Visit the Society's website
 
Pictured above, at the conference and book launch at St John's Cathedral in Norwich are, from the left, Dr Francis Young, Lady Bedingfeld, Fr Russell Frost, Sir Henry Bedingfeld, Prof John Charmley, Bishop Alan Hopes, Fr Tony Rogers and Jonathan Hooton.


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