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Home > Media > News > HERITAGE TREASURES

By Brian Andrews, Archdiocese of Hobart Heritage Officer.

Amongst the many treasures of the Archdiocese of Hobart is a small silver Recusant chalice, over three hundred years old, which is intimately related to the persecution and sufferings of English Catholics in the centuries following the English Reformation. The term Recusant was applied to those Catholics who refused to attend Divine Service in the Church of England. This resulted in civil and, in the earlier period, criminal penalties. Masses were celebrated in secret for these Recusants by priests who were under penalty of death for treason should they be discovered and apprehended. Chalices from this period are referred to as Recusant chalices.

The curve-sided bowl of our chalice is not original, but its three applied cast cherubs on the stem prove that it belongs to a series of up to eighteen which were made for Jesuit missionaries belonging to the College of the Holy Apostles, a division of the English province of the Society of Jesus dating from 1623. This particular ‘College’ covered the English Counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridge, the chalices being paid for by William, the fourth Lord Petre (1627–1683), and made by the London goldsmith Andrew Moore c.1650–60. Remarkably, given their purpose and the dangers attendant thereto, at least sixteen are known to exist.

One of the priests who came out to Tasmania in 1844 with Robert William Willson, our first Bishop, was Fr William Bond. For some years he acted as chaplain to the Weld family and is said to have been Pastor of Chideock, Dorset. The Welds were an ancient Catholic family, their seat being at Lulworth Castle, Dorset. Jesuit clergy had served as chaplains there since 1641. In 1802 Thomas Weld purchased the Chideock estate from another ancient Catholic family, the Arundels, and gave it to his sixth son Humphrey who built the manor house and converted the old barn into a chapel. The Jesuit connection with the Welds gives a reason for our chalice to have finished up in Chideock, and Fr Bond may perhaps have been given it before leaving England. He served as chaplain to the Oatlands Convict Probation Station from January 1849 until 1851, the year in which St Paul’s, Oatlands, was completed. This provides a convincing link with the fact of our chalice having come from that church.