My article ‘The Bishop’s Palace at Ely as a Prison for Recusants, 1577-1597’ has just been published in volume 32 number 2 of Recusant History, the journal of the Catholic Record Society. As it happens, 32:2 will be the last ever volume of the journal under the name Recusant History, as the journal changes its name to British Catholic History next year and comes under the umbrella of Cambridge University Press.
My article explores the physical setting of the recusant prisoners in the Bishop’s Palace at Ely, traces the timeline of their incarceration and examines the products of their imprisonment: Sir Thomas Tresham’s designs for Bishop Goodrich’s Long Gallery, Thomas Throckmorton’s Tabula Eliensis and George Cotton’s Japonian Epistles. I argue that the prisoners were able to have an active cultural life, not least because Thomas Tresham had a significant library of books in the Palace from which the other prisoners could borrow. I make the case that the prison writings and prison art of the recusant laymen imprisoned at Ely was every bit as significant as the contribution to Elizabethan Catholicism made by the imprisoned priests in nearby Wisbech Castle.
The article is the culmination of over two years’ work on the Bishop’s Palace at Ely, which included an archaeological investigation of the Long Gallery in October 2013.