Roses for a memory of a martyr

From a reader in London.

Yesterday was the feast of St John Southworth, [the English priest and martyr whose body may be venerated in Westminster Cathedral] but today was the anniversary of his execution at Tyburn (1654).  I walked the bustle of Oxford Street to the site of Tyburn Tree where he and so many others were martyred and said a prayer at the site. Someone had left a dozen roses on the concrete slab in the traffic island.

This little marker is set into the pavement in a traffic island.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mundabor says:

    To help to find it: this is outside Oxford Street, north of Marble Arch, where the Edgware Road joins the Bayswater Road. You’ll have to go on the little “pedestrian island” at the junction of the two roads.

    It is not very visible. You’ll see the slate only if you go very near; that is, only if you know already what you are looking for. I never found any indication leading there, either.


  2. CatholicinCA says:

    That’s beautiful, even centuries later people still remember. How many remember the names of the adversaries or would place roses at the site of their deaths?

  3. off2 says:

    St John Southworth pray to Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

  4. Not only is it a beautiful gesture, the person who did it literally risked life and limb to get to the traffic island, as the pavements are completely sectioned off with railings at the junction of Marble Arch and the Edgware Road, and the traffic is horrendous. It’s not a traffic island which can be stumbled upon by accident – you have to know it’s there!

  5. Cazienza says:

    I speak from personal experience as I echo Mulier’s words. You need to be rather agile to clamber over the railings.

  6. laud1645 says:

    Pleased to say it is now accesible by foot without leaping railings or scurrying over multiple lanes of traffic. A signpost wouldn’t go amiss

    This is what it looks like now. The local Wetherspoons pub is also called The Tyburn.

  7. I’ve visited that marker numerous times, dodging cars and omnibuses to do so. (In fact, it’s my Blogger symbol.) Its cracks appear to have been repaired with black pitch or asphalt after a recent construction project. How disrespectful. There was talk a couple of years ago of replacing it with something more fitting and observable. Does anyone know what came of that effort?

  8. I just clicked laud1645’s link, which shows the cracks to have at least been repaired with material that matches the marker’s color. That said, I’m still curious about the effort to build a fitting monument or marker.

  9. irishgirl says:

    I’ve seen that marker-it’s near Tyburn Convent, the Mother House of the Benedictine Adorers of the Sacred Heart, who were founded in Paris, France, in the shadow of the Hill of Montmartre. The nuns have a crypt-chapel with a replica of the infamous ‘Tyburn Tree’, where many of the English Martyrs died, along with many relics.
    I stayed at a hotel not far from here on my last two trips to England, and went to Mass more than a few times at the convent chapel.
    I’ve also gone to Westminster Cathedral and prayed by the body of St. John Southworth. He was first buried at the English Seminary in Douai, France. The seminary was closed during the French Revolution, and it wasn’t until the late 19th or early 20th century that the body was rediscovered and brought back to his native land.
    Holy Martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales, pray for us! Help us to be brave and steadfast in the Catholic Faith during these difficult times!

  10. laud1645 – the link you give uses an old photo. There’s an advance warning notice for 21 September 2008 on the island!!

    Rich leonardi – the photo with the black pitch crack is my recollection of how the marker is. I have a picture of the marker taken in 2009 which is cracked, but not as dirty as the picture above.

    I have to admit I haven’t been there for a while, but I’m pretty sure that the traffic island where the marker is (it has been moved, which is how it got cracked) is still pretty difficult to get to…

  11. pelerin says:

    I have been to the Tyburn memorial three times this year and I can assure readers that they don’t have to leap over railings to see it. There is a crossing to the island so it is quite safe provided one abides by the traffic lights. I was there in May with a group and praying the Rosary on such a spot was a beautiful and deeply meaningful experience. It was sad that the memorial takes the shape of a flat man-hole cover but at least it is commemorated. I failed to find it on a couple of previous occasions but once you know it is situated on the traffic island it is easy to find.

  12. leutgeb says:

    I have used that traffic island in the last few months, and yes you do have to wait for the green man on the crossing – it is Oxford Street after all – it’s always busy there – but don’t remember especially problematic. Back there on Monday, I’ll take another look.

    Until I did one of those martyr’s walks I never realised quite how far they were dragged from Newgate Prison to Tyburn.

    Good that people are making public gestures. Pretty rare in the UK.

  13. pelerin says:

    Does anyone know how the plaque got damaged?

  14. Banjo pickin girl says:

    pelerin, it was moved during construction.

  15. pelerin says:

    Sorry mulier – did not see your comment that it got cracked on being moved.

  16. dad29 says:

    Fr. S. was also a very close friend of Wm Shakespeare, to hear Jos. Pearce tell it; there are vast numbers of Southworth references in “Merchant” and other plays.

  17. AnAmericanMother says:

    . . . “And we will be in good company, upon Tyburn Tree.” . . .

    The song is old, it figures in The Beggars Opera to the tune of “Greensleeves”, where it’s sung by Macheath the night before his hanging.

    I will look for this the next time we’re in London. Last time we were there, we were still Episcopalians. At least we got to hear Evensong in St. Paul’s, though.

  18. That doen’t look like quite a dozen. Maybe a few were lost in traffic?

  19. amsjj1002 says:

    This picture brought back memories — we visited the Tyburn site marker the day after Cardinal Newman’s beatification. Late at night and the traffic was noisy and going full-force; I must admit, I felt pretty scared getting to it — I’m not a big city person! I wondered if the crowds were as noisy when they watched the holy martyrs get killed.

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