THE CLOSED GATES OF TRAQUA1R HOUSE
HOW many people feel. as I do, that one of the minor tragedies of life is that we often wait until a man is dead before we find it possible to pay a tribute to him. The same thing applies in a wider field and we sometimes discover an interesting place or thing when it is about to be pulled down or — like the Leonardo — to be sold out of the country.
How many people, I wonder, knew the story about the closed gates at Traquair House until the death last week of the Laird. Mr. Francis Maxwell Stuart. It seems that the great iron gates in front of the 16th century mansion in Peebleshire have been firmly closed for the past 400 years. Now there is some speculation about whether his successor will follow the tradition.
There is more to it than just custom. Legend has it that Bonnie Prince Charlie called on the then Laird to persuade him to join his cause. The Earl refused and escorted the Prince to the gate, closed it behind him and vowed that they would never be opened again until a Stuart and a Catholic filled the Throne of Britain.
Lesser stories account for it by telling us that the gates have been closed ever since Mary Stuart left in a fit of pique after an insult from her husband, Darnley, or since the wife of the seventh Earl of Traquair died in 1796. Neither of these explanations, however. is as attractive as the first.
The house itself has as much tradition attached to it as any building south of the border, and is claimed to be the oldest inhabited house in Scotland. Although the present building dates from the 16th century, royalty stayed there in the 12th century and many Royal charters were signed there. It contains the relics of Mary Queen of Scots and the Stuart kings and of its owners, who kept it as a Catholic stronghold during the Reformation,
Pontefract in history
BUM Pontefract Priory and castle, which figured prominently in Catholic history in the 16th century, have been in the news lately and the castle was the subject of a special article in the "Yorkshire Evening Post" recently.
I was glad to see that Mr. .I. F. Fielding, one of our directors who lives at Leeds, was quick to point out in the Yorkshire paper's correspondence columns that there was a link of great Catholic interest between the castle and two famous Leeds parks.
In 1537, Lord Darcy, who commanded the castle, forfeited his life and estates at Roundhay and Temple Newsam for his part as a leader of the Pilgrimage of Grace, the rising of Catholics against Henry VIII's suppression of the monasteries. The priory was the headquarters of the Pilgrimage of Grace. It was here that after a conference with the clergy a petition to the King was drawn up setting forth the aims and claims of the pilgrims.
Their subsequent fate forms one of the blackest chapters in the reign of Henry. Altogether, 216 of them perished on the block or gallows.
IHEAR that Christopher Fry 1 has taken on the scripting of of a 12-hour film version of the Bible which the Italian film producer, Dino DeLaurentiis, plans to make at new studios just outside Rome. A colossal task, but he seems happy about it. "I like DeLatirentiis", he says. "because he pays more attention than most to his scriptwriters." The actual filming of this new epic will take about three years, and the finished product. I understand, will be sent out to cinemas in a threepart parcel, one section being shown each week.
Tony Hancock, O.P. FAME has its dangers, as Fr. Donald Proudnmn, 0.P., reminded the well-wishers who came along to the party in St. Dominic's, Haverstock Hill, last Sunday t o celebrate his silver jubilee, Fr. Donald, as everyone calls him, is, of course, well-known sif one of the best of Hyde Park's many good speakers and as a fairly familiar figure on our television screens. Recently, he recalled, he met a man who peered at him and asked him was he not surely a television star and would he be having another series soon.
The answer being in the affirmative, the questioner declared his delight and said he always looked forward to his Hancock's Half Hour!
Fr, Mulvey, the Prior, presented Fr. Donald with some special photographic equipment, including a camera and an episeope for the Aquinas Centre as a tribute from his well-wishers.
Losing No Time
ILIKED the NCWC story from 1 Hong Kong of the young Chinese refugee mother who asked Fr. John J. SullIvan, M.M., after the 8 o'clock Mass at a refugee centre: "When can I have my baby baptised?"
Fr. Sullivan replied "Right away" and then seeing that the baby was very small added: "How old is the baby?" The young mother replied matter-of-factly: "ABOUT FIVE HOURS. She was born at four this morning."
Fr. Gordon Albion's "Think Well On It" has had to be held over. Michael de Is Bedoyere is on holiday&