Item 12 - Fr Baker to Bishop Clark: Expects to stay at Downham

Identity area

Reference code

GB ARCHON 2913 DEA-05-01-02-01-12

Title

Fr Baker to Bishop Clark: Expects to stay at Downham

Date(s)

  • c. 12 August 1975 (Creation)

Level of description

Item

Extent and medium

1 page; folded; 2 sides; typescript

Context area

Name of creator

(1915-2004)

Biographical history

1915: born on May 1 in the Angel Hotel at Clowne, Derbyshire, where his father was the landlord. The family moved to Great Yarmouth, where he attended the grammar school.
1938: Oscott
1942: ordained
1949 - 1975: PP at Downham Market
2004: died

He went to the Jesuits' Campion House in Middlesex before going to the prestigious French seminary to become "a gentleman of St Sulpice"; but, in 1938, he was asked to leave after publishing an article suggesting that the Treaty of Versailles had been too severe on Germany to be the basis of a lasting peace. On returning home Baker was not accepted by the Jesuits, then earned a living selling books in Glasgow, tried the Dominicans, he eventually went to Oscott seminary at Birmingham. After being ordained priest in 1942, Baker served as a curate at Luton, High Wycombe and Wymondham, Norfolk, before going to Downham Market in 1949.
When the New Mass came out in 1969, Fr. Baker refused to say it and continued to offer exclusively the Tridentine Latin Mass as codified by Pope St. Pius V in 1570. In 1975 Father Baker was suspended by Bishop Charles Grant. Bishop Grant told Fr. Baker not to say Mass in his Church, so Fr. Baker obediently said Mass in his Presbytery instead.
With the help of donations a house was purchased for his presbytery & chapel, at 48 Bexwell Road, Downham Market, named the "St. Pius V Chapel". He said Mass there until his death in 2004
In 1984 he explained that the present Pope was "no more a Catholic than Ian Paisley - and no more a pope than Billy Graham". He added that "the new Mass is a sacrilegious parody of the true Mass: it is sinful to take part in it."
Gradually Baker's congregation fell to about 20, though it would swell when the film producer Mel Gibson, who bought a house nearby, appeared for Sunday Mass and stayed for coffee afterwards.
On July 2 2004 Father Oswald Baker declared: "I am ready to die" - which he then did.

Archival history

pre-2018: DOM

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

RCDEA Archive

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Income in the parish has increased - so, not living on a "pittance". Willing to accept position as a curate so that the parish priest from Swaffham does not have to travel to Downham. His weekly visit to the convent in Swaffham means he could easily report to the PP. Changes would be detrimental to this parish. Suggest that any priest free to officiate do so at Oxburgh instead. Not impelled to move; willing to stay.

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DEA

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Related units of description

203x165mm; folded once

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Status

Draft

Level of detail

Minimal

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