On the news they are calling them 'protestors'. A more accurate name might be rioters and robbers, people who are using the pretext of a shooting by the police to pillage and destroy their own neighborhoods. So to turn your minds to calmer times, think rural Dorset, two hundred miles from London; and think the 1640's.
In 1635 the Chief Justice of England, a very wealthy gent indeed called John Bankes, bought a large estate in the Southwest of England, a rural retreat. Until the reign of Elizabeth I it had been a royal castle, first built in Saxon times and greatly enlarged by the second King after the Norman Conquest, Henry I. In many ways it resembled the Conqueror's own great Castle built to dominate London, the Tower. Like the Tower, it was faced with fine ashlar and painted white. Standing on a natural mound of chalk with rivers cutting ravines on either side, it was an impressive, even terrifying, statement of royal power. Elizabeth had sold it to a lawyer in one of her many attempts at balancing the Royal books. By the next century, during the reign of Charles I, there seemed to be no need for great defensive castles. Everyone was building gracious country houses, with large windows and no towers or battlements. So perhaps John Bankes was being a little retro in buying such an out-dated pile. Or perhaps he could already forsee trouble.
Trouble certainly came. His Lordship was away fighting with the King's troops against Cromwell's Roundheads ('protestors' or 'rioters and robbers'?) and it was left to Mary, his wife, to undertake the defence of Corfe Castle. That she did with a loyal band of servants, and Corfe successfully withstood two sieges. Alas, she was betrayed by one of her servants and the Roundhead troops were secretly given entry to the Castle.
So amazed were those troops at the bravery of Lady Mary that she was handed the keys of the Castle as she left, and it is said her little procession passed through ranks of opposing soldiers, who all looked away as she passed, unable to look her in the eye. After the Restoration of Charles II, the Bankes estates were reclaimed; but the Castle was no longer habitable, having been slighted by Act of Parliament in 1646; that is, its towers and walls were undermined, gunpowder was put in the cavities, and the resulting explosions created great gaps, and great piles of masonry which still lean at impossible angles. In the 1980s Ralph, the last descendant of the Bankes family, handed over the entire estate to the National Trust for England. It is reckoned to be the most generous gift they have ever received, for the great house of Kingston Lacey near Wimborne was the replacement for Corfe, and it is very grand indeed. There are many thousands of acres now owned by the National Trust, from the shore at Studland to Kingston Lacey a dozen miles and more to the north.
Today we took grandson Huw to see it. The Trust is employing many actors some, I guess, students on vacation, to flesh out some of the history. We heard about bow-making, saw food cooked in ancient vessels, listened as Knights told us of the weight of armour they had to carry. Nothing, unfortunately, about the Church in all this. Yet there was certainly a Chapel and a Chaplain in residence, and one of those who held the Castle in times past was a Bishop of Bath and Wells. In 1642 Parliamentarian soldiers were using the parish church as a base for some of their guns, watered their horses from the font, and made shot from the lead of the roof and the organ pipes. The parish Church was not put into decent order again until a major rebuild in the 19th Century. There is a later Lady Chapel, with a lovely Annunciation window. The catholic revival in the Church of England had its influence even in deepest Dorset.
How our forefathers in the Faith must have despaired when the king was beheaded and Puritanism made the only acceptable religion. Those 'riots' in East and South London are very small matters set against the murderous times of the English Civil War. Even the Ordinariate will one day be seen sub speciae aeternitatis. Pray that whatever we do in establishing it we may do in charity; for it is not history which will judge us, but Our Lord himself.