We are privileged in Oxfordshire to have a number of important historic Catholic country houses, in many of which the Traditional Mass has been said in recent years. These houses were places where, in 'penal times', when Catholicism was legally proscribed, priests were looked after and Masses said. As time wore on and the persecution became less severe, they established more accessible chapels and became 'missions', serving the surrouding area until the parochial system was re-established in 1917. They still have regular public Masses, at least every month, in many cases every week, and the houses themselves are also open to the public.
near Henley on Thames, RG9 6HF
The most important of all these houses, it was a base for St Edmund Campion, and the place where he had an illegal printing press. The chapel dates from the 12th Century.The Stonor family (who now have the barony Camoys: thus, Lord Camoys) have been there continuously since the Middle Ages, and remained Catholic throughout penal times.
The Traditional Mass was celebratook place there in 2011 and 2012, with the kind permission of Lord Camoys; see here for a report.
near Abingdon, OX14 4EN
The house was taken over by a Catholic family, the Barretts (now Mockler-Barrett) in the 18th Century, who established an extremely fine 'Strawbery Hill Gothic' chapel inside it. This was dedicated by Bishop Richard Challoner; a number of Challoner's vestments, his altar cards and his chalice are in the chapel, and are used for Mass.
The Latin Mass Society organises a Mass here each February.
(See here for a report and pictures of a Missa Cantata at Milton Manor.)
near Reading, RG4 7TR
The Blount family (now the Eystons) reverted to Catholicism during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and established Mapledurham as a Catholic centre. The house contains various hiding places, and had a secret chapel in the attic. After the Catholic Relief Act a chapel was built attached to the house, but accessible directly from outside, in a very similar 'Strawbery Hill Gothick' style to that of Milton Manor. The family had a long connection with the Medieval parish church which is close to the house, and one aisle of this, where the Blounts are buried, remains Catholic in this Anglican church.
This was for some years an important venue for the Traditional Mass, before the FSSP became establised in Reading.
(See here for a report and pictures of a Missa Cantata at Mapledurham.)
Other places of interest:
Hendred House, another home of the Eyston family, with a medieval chapel which was restored for Catholic worship during the brief reign of Charles II.
Waterperry, a centre for the Jesuits during the 18th Century; unfortunately the chapel has been demolished.
In Oxford, Holywell Manor, the family home of Bl George Napier, and a centre for Catholic activities for several generations.
Also in Oxford, the Mitre public house, in whose cellars Mass was celebrated in penal times.