BRAILES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brailes was no end of a town in the Middle Ages, the third largest in Warwickshire, so they built a great church here; that town is now no more than a village, but the church remains, dominated by its tall Perpendicular tower (1) with a large aisled nave and chancel attached (2). The Bishop family bought the advowson in 1584 and held it for over a hundred years, several of them being buried up in the chancel. The Bishops, however, were Roman Catholics. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries John Bishop acquired Rectory Farm, once owned by the Augustinian friars of Kenilworth. He proceeded to establish a hidden chapel in the house, where Mass was said throughout the recusant period. Father George Bishop constructed the present chapel in 1726, in the top floor of the malt barn (3) attached to what is now the presbytery, over half a century before it was legal for Catholics to build them, and it retains some of its original woodwork (4). Ecumenical relations in Brailes were such that in penal times no Catholic, priest or lay, was ever reported to the authorities. There remains a tablet (1809) on the external east wall of the chancel of the parish church (5) requesting prayers for the soul of the Revd John Austin, ‘for many years Pastor to the Catholics of Brailes & Neighbourhood’. That's not something you see every day. ND

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