Virginia Barton

Tales of St Frideswide and Oxford

Stripped of the romantic embroideries beloved of simple Christians, St Frideswide’s fairy tale of imperilled virtue, escape and hiding emerges more or less intact.

Reflections on a Lithuanian re-birth

A quietly tenacious people, the obstinate bravery of the Lithuanians has triumphed in the face of what must often have seemed an implacable foe. We of the bulldog breed could yet learn a thing or two from all three Baltic states.

Art for art’s sake, art for God’s sake

“Familiarity breeds not contempt, but indifference”. G.K. Chesterton notes, in his bold hand and green pencil; “but can breed surprise, try saying ‘Boots’ ninety times”.

A musical jungle on the streets

There is nothing much more hopeful than a busker. From time to time (not too often, the public is quickly bored) a young man plays his trumpet outside our branch of Marks & Spencer’s.

Barn-storming in Brentwood and Lyford

The procession shuffled along behind the reliquary and banner, kicking up the hot dust of the field path. I had the fanciful notion that our little train had been joined by the victims of all the persecutions, from every place and every century; all those who have “washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb”.

Of shells and a winning Junta of Jesuits

Shortly after I saw those shells at the Ashmolean Museum I decided to cook Coquilles Saint Jacques à la bordelaise (scallops in white sauce with a spot of white wine, but it sounds more tempting in French).

Church by Oxfordshire church for the glovebox

I thoroughly recommend this guide for glove-box or bookshelf. Such books are like magic keys that open up hidden pleasures and treasures every time the old church door creaks open before one’s curious gaze.

Wanderlust is no respecter of seniority

Funny how once the fledgelings have flit, and the Old Man is contentedly chuntering between woodwork and the potting-shed (or their equivalent), Gran suddenly realises she’s got wings! Be warned world, there are a lot of liberated grans about, emptying their piggybanks and applying for visas.

Newman, the Catechism, Durham, and Kostowiec

Did you know that some post-reformation saints including Francis de Sales and Teresa of Avila are listed in the Alternative Service Book of the C of E? We might reciprocate by finding in our calendar an ecumenical niche for Dietrich Bonhoeffer .

Commonplace book for passions

The success of a country house, from the tourist’s point of view, depends I think on whether one can imagine living in it oneself. There must be a personal touch. Broughton Castle comes within the scope of one’s imagination; one can people it, bring it swiftly to life in any century.

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