John Gerard, Catholic Priest, 1597

The Salt Tower

John Gerard (1564–1637) was an English Jesuit priest, operating covertly in England during the Elizabethan period in which the Catholic Church was subject to persecution.

John is noted not only for successfully hiding from the English authorities for eight years before his capture, but for enduring extensive torture, escaping from the Tower of London and, after recovering, continuing with his covert mission. After his escape to the continent, he was later instructed by his Jesuit superiors to write a book about his life (Latin text).[2] An English translation was published in 1951.

Gerard was finally captured in London on 23 April 1594, together with Nicholas Owen. He was tried, found guilty and sent to the Counter in the Poultry. Later he was moved to the Clinkprison where he was able to meet regularly with other persecuted English Catholics. Due to his continuation of this work, he was sent to the Salt Tower in the Tower of London, where he was further questioned and tortured by being repeatedly suspended from chains on the dungeon wall. The main aim of Gerard’s torturers was to identify the London lodgings of Fr. Henry Garnet that they might arrest him. He would not answer any questions that involved others, or name them. He insisted that he never broke, a fact borne out by the files of the Tower.

Henry Garnet wrote about Gerard:

“Twice he has been hung up by the hands with great cruelty on the part of others and no less patience on his own. The examiners say he is exceedingly obstinate and a great friend either of God or of the devil, for they say they cannot extract a word from his lips, save that, amidst his torments, he speaks the word, ‘Jesus’. Recently they took him to the rack, where the torturers and examiners stood ready for work. But when he entered the place, he at once threw himself on his knees and with a loud voice prayed to God that … he would give him strength and courage to be rent to pieces before he might speak a word that would be injurious to any person or to the divine glory. And seeing him so resolved, they did not torture him.”[4]

A famous exploit of his is believed to have been masterminded by Saint Nicholas Owen. With help from other members of the Catholic underground, Gerard, along with John Arden, escaped on a rope strung across the Tower moat during the night of 4 October 1597. Despite the fact that his hands were still mangled from the tortures he had undergone, he succeeded in climbing down. He even arranged for the escape of his gaoler (jailer), with whom he had become friendly, and who he knew would be held responsible for the jailbreak. Immediately following his escape, he joined Henry Garnet and Robert Catesby in Uxbridge. Later, Gerard moved to the house of Dowager Elizabeth Vaux[1] at Harrowden. From this base of operations, he continued his priestly ministry, and reconciled many to the Catholic Church, including Sir Everard Digby (one of the conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot). He later suspected Digby of plotting something, but did not act, thus allowing the plan to proceed undetected. When the plot was discovered, Gerard was a very wanted man due to his links to those involved.

He was incorrectly implicated by Robert Catesby’s servant Thomas Bates. Staying a while at Harrowden, then escaping from there to London, he left the country with financial aid from Elizabeth Vaux, slipping away disguised as a footman in the train of the Spanish Ambassador[5] on the very day of Henry Garnet’s execution. Gerard went on to continue the work of the Jesuits in Europe, where he wrote his autobiography on the orders of his superiors. He died in 1637, aged 73, at the English College seminary, Rome.

John Gerard Escape

4 Comments CherryPie on Mar 3rd 2015

Traitor's Gate

Traitor’s (or Traitors’) Gate was a watergate – originally simply called the Water Gate – beneath St Thomas’s Tower at the Tower of London.

The gate was built in the late 1270s on the orders of Edward I to provide a convenient means by which he could arrive by barge. It acquired its present name as the Tower evolved into a place of imprisonment – and sometimes torture – for those accused of treason, notably in the 16th century during the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

The archway was bricked up in the mid-​​19th century because the embankment works caused the river to run deeper, making the gate of little practical use for would-​​be visitors – traitorous or not – at most phases of the tide.

Traitor's Gate

4 Comments CherryPie on Mar 2nd 2015

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.

Joseph Addison

Garden Pathway

13 Comments CherryPie on Mar 1st 2015


Between April 1917 and January 1919, the Stamford Military Hospital provided a Sanctuary from the Trenches for soldiers injured during the First World War. As a reflection upon the 282 soldiers that passed through the hospital during this period, the structure comprises 282 individually cast concrete cubes.

Save for one nameless soldier, each cube features a soldier admission number. These records were sourced from a log book kept by the sister in charge of the hospital, Sister Catherine Bennett. The unknown soldier’s cube has been included nonetheless, but remains blank.




10 Comments CherryPie on Feb 28th 2015


This sundial is in the style of one commissioned by William III. It represents Africa, one of the four continents known at the time. The figure depicts a Moor, not a slave, and he has knelt here since before 1750.*

*Information from a signboard next to the statue.

4 Comments CherryPie on Feb 27th 2015


The present Hall was initially built in 1616 by Sir George Booth, who received one of the first baronetcies to be created by James I in 1611; it was later remodelled by John Norris for his descendant, George, 2nd Earl of Warrington between 1732 and 1740; it was further altered by John Hope towards the end of the 18th century and by Joseph Compton Hall between 1905 and 1908. The Hall itself, the stables, and the carriage house of Dunham Massey are all Grade I listed buildings, three of six such buildings in Trafford.[7]

The site is moated and lies immediately west of the village of Dunham, with the deer park to the south. The Hall was donated to the National Trust by Roger Grey, 10th and last Earl of Stamford, in 1976. The Hall was used as a military hospital during the First World War. Inside is a significant collection of Huguenot silver, the carving The Crucifixion by 17th-century wood carver Grinling Gibbons, and a white marble bust of the Emperor Hadrian; the head is antique, but the neck and shoulders are 18th-century; it was probably acquired by the George, Earl of Stamford and Warrington. The collection of paintings in the Hall include Allegory with Venus, Mars, Cupid and Time by GuercinoThe Cascade at Terni by Louis Ducros; and portraits by William BeecheyFrancis CotesMichael DahlA. R. MengsSir Joshua ReynoldsGeorge RomneyEnoch Seeman, and ZoffanyGeorge Harry, Earl of Stamford and Warrington removed a selection of paintings to Enville Hall[8] in the late 1850s, and it was not until Roger Grey, 10th Earl of Stamford succeeded as Earl, that some were rebought by the family after sales in 1929 and 1931.[9] The deer park at Dunham Massey is the only medieval park in Trafford or the surrounding area still surviving.[6] *




*From Wikipedia

10 Comments CherryPie on Feb 26th 2015

Dunham Massey

Deer May Safely Graze


Board Now...

10 Comments CherryPie on Feb 25th 2015

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